What to do on days with no planned workout?

What should I be doing on my days with no planned workout if I have an extra hour or so to spare?

Here’s the situation:

Goal: Solo 24 hour MTB race at end of June. I have no plans to win or go fast. I just want to be in good enough physical shape so that my main obstacle is mental toughness.

Current plan: Low volume (started in January) based on most recommendations. Weather is getting good enough to starting doing long z2 road rides on my free weekend day. Trails are in mucky shape still, unfortunately.

Me/Training background: 35F structured training amateur. My usual cycling season consists of 15-25 km trail rides 2-3 times a week. I probably have no business doing a solo 24 hour, but I have a poor memory for pain and sign up for silly things now and then because I get bored easily.

The ask: The TR plan has me doing workouts on Tues, Thurs, and Sat. I will start incorporating long rides on Sun. What should I do on Mon, Wed, Fri if I only have an hour or so to spare ? Should I ride, cross train, rest? If I ride, should I be aiming for a certain intensity? I’m confused about how to optimize training time and balance workouts with rest. Thanks all!


You would be fine doing an easy ride on those days, up to some zone 2 but I wouldn’t push it much past that. The low volume plans have very high intensity on few days to make up for gaps so you need good recovery on the days between. Some not too crazy strength/core training and/or something balance/yoga based might also be good to help with mountain bike skills and bone density. You could also consider looking at the medium volume plan if you do regularly have time for that kind of volume. Usually those incorporate a recovery ride or z2 ride a few days a week between the more intense sessions built into the plan.


I like riding my MTB so I’d hit the trails personally. Not to mention it is a great way to de-stress after work.

That said, just be sure to keep Monday extra chill (or a rest day) as it will follow a hard workout and a long ride… but other than that… just go out and enjoy riding your bike. Maybe work on some skills (you aren’t going to get that on the trainer).

Whatever you do… just be sure to keep it fun!


I don’t think any low volume plan could ever prepare you to be cycling for 24 hours straight. I don’t know how long your long rides are but I would try to at least get close to doing 16-18h rides by May. I am currently training for la Marmotte an event which I hope I will complete in 7-8h (but probably will require more) and being on the saddle that long with only having done 3-3.5h rides already scares me…

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Thanks everyone so far! It sounds like keep it chill/fun on the weekdays off and go as long as possible weekend ride. The anxious part of my brain wants to just cram in as much intensity as possible to make up for the limited time in the saddle overall, but I’ll try and stick with the plan.

You will need long rides to figure out a few things. Fuel for 24 hours: you will need your daily requirement but add on calories burned while riding. Hydration goes along with this. Then there’s the how long can you sit on the bike. Toughen up that tussy.

Then it gets dark. Lights and spare batteries need to be tested.

Over all sounds like good fun to me. Good luck.

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Take a nap. Or eat some chicken.

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I keep it as a day off the bike and go for a walk.

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If you feel you’ve given TR a good amount of historical power/HR data, I’d turn on RLGL and let that help to guide. For Wed/Fri you could try to add 1 hour endurance rides and monitor for how you feel and see if the system adds any additional warnings.

I personally started with a LV plan, with the idea to add endurance rides but I’ve now added so much endurance that I’ve knocked off some of the intense rides that LV contains. Some of this was my own doing and some with a nudge from RLGL.



Pick what you think you might need:

  • Add Z1/2
  • Weight/Strength training.
  • Yoga, foam rolling, or massage.
    Whatever you do, ease into it to determine what you are capable of in the long run.
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I’m on LV as well & I add a 4-hour most weeks for endurance fitness & a pre-dawn-all-day-into-the-night ride about once a month to check in on which parts of my body get sore or stiff after that duration & how well my gut can process food. A series of 1½h workouts won’t tell me any of that. To the downsides of upping the distance, I’m not so sure that there’s any substantial fitness benefit from riding beyond hour 6, however, the fatigue from such a ride is disruptive to my following training schedule & that requires some shuffling. LV so I can usually get away with it. RLGL currently does not recommend me enough time off after a long slow distance adventure. But that’s exactly it: it’s an adventure. Valuable, but not something I can afford every week.

+1 to those who mentioned strength training above. The lower back especially has a bad reputation for getting sore. I’ve found that strength exercises targeting it have benefited me, & can now report zero soreness there after 14 hours on a bike. I go to a gym about twice a week for strength.

TR has this blog post about pacing plans. I think it’s a good starting point but for an adventure ride I prefer to err on the conservative side so that I can be a functional human the next day. I find that .55 to .6IF for 12h is good for that. But if it’s an A race then to hell with being functional afterward. :crazy_face:

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LOL, this is exactly how I find myself signed on for a 24HR this summer.

The answer to your question is ‘it depends’. (and, obviously, I’m not a coach). What is the course like? What are your limiters? For a first crack at MTB 24 hr racing I’d be concerned with having the core and upper-body strength to stay on the bike in the last few hours. If you know that won’t be a problem and the course will be easy enough that you can ride it without going over threshold too much then how good is your fat metabolism? 1 hour is (I read) long enough to be worthwhile at Z2 so three extra hours of work per week should make fueling less of an issue come race day. Lastly JoeX’s comment has a lot of truth in it: have a look at recommendations for protein consumption for athletes your age as you might be surprised at how much you need during training and possibly the most important part of recovery is good quality sleep.

Very best of luck!


I’m on low volume masters and just doing a 100 at Unbound. With Red light/ Green light I’ve added a 1 hr of low level endurance on Monday and Wednesday. I’m nervous about when it gets warmer around here that doing long Sunday rides will screw up recovery that should be taking place on Sundays and Mondays. Typically Saturdays are my toughest days so curious that to see what Red/Green light do for Sundays.

I’m a high volume rider (about 20 hours a week) on a low volume plan. I just go out and ride my bike.

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Same here, days off bike are walk days.

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Curious what focused exercises you do for the low back. Do you aim for high reps vs. more weight or perhaps isometric work?

On the Mondays/Wednesdays, does your calendar indicate any light? I’m wondering because today is a rest day for me, but I have a yellow light that says “Your recent training stress is high. This is a recommended endurance day to reduce intensity.” Is the intended interpretation that:

  1. If I choose do exercise, I should keep it in the endurance range, or
  2. I should do an endurance workout to help with recovery?
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I would try to look at it from the other side… You are riding 100 miles. Will the long rides “screw up recovery” or will not doing the long rides negatively impact your race?

IMO the long rides are the most important aspect to marathon events. Everything else should be planned around it.


This one


I do what Les Woodland described as a “dorsal hyperextension” in his book “Cycle Racing: Training to Win”. A google search on that term brought up nothing on strength training so I don’t know what the exercise is actually called, & I’ll just leave it to Les to describe:

The gym I go to has an apparatus with a stop that the athlete can place their feet in front of so that they don’t need an assistant to hold their ankles. A straight body on this apparatus is angled upward at 45°; bent 90° at the hips the upper body is angled downward 45°. Counting, one movement per second I go up, hold, down, hold, 8 reps, 3 sets. I started with no weight & gradually got up to holding 20+5kg plates against my chest. (I weigh ~73kg, so I think a 25kg weight is plenty.) I get concentric, isometric, & eccentric contractions in the glutes & the lower back, & isometric in the hamstrings. I’m aware that this is exactly the type of movement that people caution against when picking up a heavy object, but my thoughts are that’s because picking objects up in a hurry is often accompanied with a jerking action, so I take the exercise slowly & smoothly. I haven’t found the exercise to be painful except for the usual sore feeling of worked muscles.
Bent-over rowing with a barbell, or body rows, will also work the lower back. Which is most effective? I don’t know.

I also lighten my strength training during recovery weeks, usually keeping it above the navel, & fewer sets for the remaining exercises. Makes for a very short session. :laughing:

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I just got a Yellow today and I don’t think it was there until I answered the question about how motivated I was to work out. I think I’ve gotten a couple yellows after Saturdays which typically are my tough day. I’m thinking a tough Saturday followed by a long outdoor Sunday would put me into red for Monday. This will be fun to play with maybe just move all my days up so that I can have a day off between my hard day and a long outdoor ride on Sunday.