🚆 Training Plan for the Divorced

Apologies for the provocative title. There’s actually a good technical question behind that.

How can I design a training plan that accounts for being a single parent half the time? Former spouse and I will be alternating 2-day weekday blocks and 3-day weekend blocks sharing custody of our child.

In short: every other weekend, I won’t be able to complete any long training sessions. We limit TV and electronics, so a 1-h training session on those weekend days for me will be the most I can do. Maybe add a 1h stroll with my daughter for fun - at less than 10 mph, I don’t expect that to affect my training at all. On the flip side, I’ll have free reigns every other weekends to ride longer.

My ability to do anything longer than 2 hours during the week is basically nil.

I’m sure I’m not the only age group athlete in that situation. How can I best structure a training plan that can accommodate my parental situation, allow me to focus on my daughter on the days where I have her, and allow me to train productively around that on and off schedule?

Does anyone have good experience or recommendations to share?

Many thanks,


Hi @CEBorduas, I don’t have firsthand experience myself, but know parents in similar scenarios and can see similarities to other athletes in our community with on/off schedules (e.g., first responders, Physicians, etc.). What immediately comes to mind is 2x per month 3 day weekend training blocks when your daughter is with her mom.

As an age grouper, a weekday 2 hour time limit for training is quite a blessing, so I think if you can use your weekdays as your consistent time to train whatever aspects of your fitness are important at that time, then your “off” 3 day weekends are a great time off the bike to let the body recover while you are with your daughter. I might consider 10-14 day training blocks to work around the times when you have your daughter so you can balance a training overload with recovery and family time. So with the weekend you have your daughter, that’s at least 3 days of that block that are off, add a few more recovery days in there and you’re down to 5-9 days of quality work that can be accomplished within that block. Pretty solid.

Accounting for the different types of work that can be done, you can probably knock out some solid sprint or VO2 max/zone 5 type of work and get adaptations with up to 2 blocks of that approach. Threshold adaptations would take longer, so you might consider 12-20 weeks for that type of focus.

Thanks @ryan !

Would you have a suggestion of how I might schedule my key workouts on such a 14-day schedule? I don’t race and I focus primarily on having the best overall base form I can have. I do 3 or 4 sportives (160 km or 100 miles with some climbing) per summer.

Not knowing any better, my intervals tend to be always the same (6x5s or 4 or 5x8 slightly over threshold - 90-92% of HR max). I think that dedicating some workouts to AeT/Tempo might be beneficial, too?

I also need to integrate strength training into this, probably 2 times a week during the winter months, and once a week during the summer (where I’ll be riding longer and outside).

What would be the best way of piecing/blocking this to achieve the best possible stimulation, and without recovery from one activity compromising the ability to complete the others too much?

Perfectly valid question @CEBorduas.
In addition to @steveneal :

As a full-time single parent, here are my tips:

  • use a (silent) smart trainer when your daughter is sleeping
  • ride together to whatever entertainment is available, and far enough from home to make it an endurance training. Kids love to look around on bicycles. It will be fine for her as long as you sell it as entertainment, and make sure it is. (works until about 6 years old)
    – you can even have her coach you if you ask here to keep a look at speed/power output/hr. Young kids love to do things together, as long as there is honest attention.
  • make sure you have something to recover from when your daughter is with you
  • if you an afford it, take half a day off work to do some quality training
  • accept your new life
  • do the math: where you 100% committed to your daughter 50% of the time, before the separation? Probably not. So it is perfectly fine to arrange entertainment for when daddy is getting his training. Be transparent, ask for help (stay over, sleep over, sitter). And when she is old enough and responsible enough to handle a smartphone, leave her at home with somebody close in case of emergencies.
    I trained my son from 4 yrs old to use a walky-talky kind of app while I wasn’t at home, while having a separate channel to the neighbours for emergencies. As long as you stay close to home, you can easily extend the time outside, but close to home. This is actually a great way to develop her self-confidence, pro-activeness and independence. Not everybody will agree, especially couples.

Expect your ex spouse to complain when your daughter tells her that you went cycling to the zoo, 2 hours from home. If your daughter was happy, ignore your ex :slight_smile:

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