Best use of two hours

Thinking outside the box a bit here…

Suppose I have a maximum of two hours to train on a given day and I want to follow a polarized training approach. I’m fit enough and have enough lifetime miles that a 2 hour endurance ride won’t really be enough stimulus.

Would it be more beneficial to go for a two hour walk or hike, a 2 hour “endurance+” ride, or just stick with the standard, steady, endurance ride within my time constraint?

Clearly the two hour hike would be load bearing, which is good, but probably would have the lowest average heartrate. Endurance+ would create the largest TSS, but may tend to disrupt the 80/20 ratio.

Hi Steve,

Good question! Certainly there is a value in the two hour hike. It will increase the adaptive stress, but it is also less cycling specific so it shouldn’t be a regular go to.

The thing to be careful of in this question is to think of workouts in isolation which is something you should never do. Always think about your workouts in terms of blocks or weeks. Yes, for someone like you a two hour workout in isolation isn’t enough of a stimulus. But three days in a row of two hours each with the first one being an interval session is.

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I’ll echo @trevor’s comment of workouts in isolation. I think that’s a really great point. One ride by itself will be easy for you, but if you can turn that into a small block of training, the 2 hour ride might be plenty of a stress if it comes on day 3 or day 4 perhaps.

Over the winter months, I’ve done a similar approach of hopping on the treadmill with my ski pack on and doing some hikervals or other running intervals. Sometimes it was just because of time constraints, and it turned out to be a pretty solid session that would fit into the 80/20 approach nicely. Other times I just didn’t feel like riding the trainer, and wanted to mix it up with the available time. I like loading the body differently. Just need to do it when any potential negatives won’t affect the overall progress (e.g., not doing something way out of the box the week of a race).

I should add some context. It often occurs that I’ll have planned for 3-4 hours on a Saturday, but suddenly discover that I really only have 2 hours or less. In that context I’ll have either taken a rest day on Friday, or (more typically) had back-to-back endurance days (sub 2 hours total, likely spit sessions between AM and PM commutes).

Point well taken on the ride in isolation vs. in the context of a block, though, as well as the specificity element. The hike wouldn’t be an acceptable alternative with 8 weeks before my go-fast season. Right now I have 24 weeks before go-fast time, so it sounds like the occasional endurance hike wouldn’t be the worst thing to try. Of course it’s also something to build up to in it’s own right so as to minimize soreness going into the next block. So many variables!

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