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Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and how I deal with training for events – both cycling and running. I usually have an active and busy schedule which can make it hard to fit in training. And using a paper diary, I end up filling in gaps with stuff then realising I’m not superwoman!
In the past, when an event was months away, I’d almost forget to start training as it felt so far away when I registered, then there’d be no time to train properly.
It’s ironic though, because I know how good it feels to get to the start line of an event having trained well, and having prepared. And it doesn’t need to take 6 days per week of training.
When I originally wrote this post, back in 2016, I reached out to friends for inspiration on how to keep on track with your training when you’re busy. I’ve updated it with more advice and information on Beyond CC… my latest venture with cycling Coach Alison Wood of Veloqi CC.
What Is Beyond CC
Basically, Alison and I are creating the ultimate community for women who ride and are looking to take on the challenge of training for their first century (100miles) in 2022.
It’ll be an inclusive space to support you on your journey, no matter your start point.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- Monthly training plans to suit your experience
- 2x weekly strength and conditioning sessions
- 1x weekly indoor cycling community meet-up
- Monthly seminars to support training (nutrition etc)
- Professional support from both Alison and I – Personal Trainers and Cycling Coaches
So, What Makes This Different To Other Communities?
First of all, this is a community for women who ride, run by women who ride. We wanna scrap the traditional cycling club model, and be more inclusive. It’s a safe space to ask questions and get the support you need.
But we meet you where you are, and then help you to go beyond what you think you can do!
Find A Plan That Works For You
A training plan is kinda like a road map to get you to your event and the more time you have till your event, the less intense your training needs to be. You’ll have more time to build up your base fitness before focusing on more specific training (which will feel a lot easier once you’re more physically prepared).
You can usually find suggested generic training plans on the event website but these may not suit your schedule or abilities.
Use Your Training Plan As A Guide
At the start of each week, take a look at your training plan to see what sessions are suggested for the week.; “that way you know what you’re doing when the day comes and this could make it a little easier to commit to” Vik told me on Twitter. Then put all your sessions for the week into your diary like you would a meeting or appointment.
If you use a programme like Training Peaks to track your training plan, you can set it up to email you each morning with your schedule for the day.
On one of our Beyond CC calls, I asked Coach Alison, if you’re too busy to do all your sessions in a week, is there an order that you should prioritise the sessions?
Coach Alison said the main thing was to “do something”. She also told us, if you’re super tired then ride for one hour on feel. If you’re short on time, then squeeze in the shorter, harder session and even repeat it in the week if you don’t have time for the longer ride.
Make The Most Of Your Day
The one suggestion that we never want to hear, is to start your day earlier! It could be just 30 minutes earlier – short, high intensity sessions are just as effective, and valuable as longer ones. Maybe jump on your indoor trainer for 30minutes of intervals before breakfast?
My friend Megan told me that it’s also kinda in your mindset too; “My wake-up time isn’t ‘usually 7:15 but 6:15 because I’ve got to cycle’… I say ‘…it’s 6:15 because I’ve got to do stuff and better myself before work each day’”.
This mindset shift is so valuable and it’s one that I’m getting to grips with as I read my first book of the year – The Miracle Morning.
Then Gareth on Twitter blew all our excuses out the window with this quote he had come across – “You can always make time at the start of the day but there is never more time at the end of a day”. I feel like the best part of exercising is the morning is the feeling of accomplishment and knowing that you’re sorted for the day.
Georgina of Fitcetera reminds us that “if your plan says do a 6 mile run try doing two x 3 miles (one in the morning, one in the evening) or however you can fit it in”!
Cycle commuting (cycling to / from work), cycling to meetings, or home from events …or to go and pick things up on your days off were all suggested by Julie (@fattymustrun).
The biggest takeaway from being flexible though is not to panic if you miss the odd session, or have to cut one short – the occasional missed session won’t make that much of a difference to your progress. Just make sure you prioritise the important sessions.
It also wouldn’t go a miss to have a contingency plan in place too. Ever booked in for a class and then it gets cancelled?! Or your meeting overruns and you can’t make that virtual ride you planned?!
Rest & Recovery Is Still Important
On our Beyond CC call, I asked Coach Alison about tracking other things you do because as she explained, exercise is a form of stress on the body, so in order to track stress accurately, you need to record as much as possible.
If you use Strava, then it tracks your Fitness & Freshness, including fatigue. If you use Training Peaks, it tracks your Training Stress Score. Using a heart rate monitor is the best way to keep an eye on your training progress.
For me this means recording when I’m teaching my weekly classes, especially if I’m doing a lot of the work too.
But Coach Alison also reminded us that physical exertion is not the only form of stress we experience. Your work, your family commitments and more all contribute to what she called the ‘stress bucket”. They fill up our bucket and if it overflows, that’s when we reach burnout and progress is limited.
So cycling can be both a way to fill our bucket (those short hard sessions) and a way to empty your bucket. Those long weekend rides on your training plan don’t need to be intense.
Use them to get out with friends, your club or by yourself – whatever you need to keep some balance.
It’s important you get at least one full rest day per week, and if’s it’s a rest week, make that at least two full rest days.
Bethan added that “The other thing to remember is that exercise is particularly good for you in busy times, it gives your head space to rest and lifts that foggy cloud we all get when we’re super busy”.
Your Training Time Can Be Productive
When I’m out running on my own, and particularly for long runs, I love listening to podcasts or audiobooks. Becs says that “you may even find you’re more productive in the afternoon as it gives you the chance to refresh and refocus your priorities as you work out”.
Indoor cycling can be great for this – catch up on your favourite Netflix series or catch up with friends on a Zwift meet-up. I always keep a notepad on my trainer table to jot down ideas that come to me or make notes for later.
You can also come join us on Saturday mornings for a Zwift meet up at 1045am; follow me on Zwift – Elle Linton – and then get in touch so I can send you an invite!
We’re super excited to be on this journey with an amazing group of women in 2022!
How do you keep your training consistent when life gets busy?