Balancing Work and Riding Commitments

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Your fitness questions answered (Courtesy of Cycling News)

Lack of sleep


My question is a general one that I, and probably others, have problems with when having a full-time job, family, etc. What do you recommend on those intense workout days when you are lacking adequate sleep? I can feel that my body needed an extra 1-2 hrs of sleep, and doing intervals, sprints, or even a training race is the last thing I want to do. Do you recommend taking the day off the bike altogether, do a recovery ride, or shorten the workout by a certain amount?

I’m doing all that can to improve my sleep, but when trying to stick to a training plan, it can be very frustrating when you aren’t well rested.



Scott Saifer says:

Hi Mark,

I encourage all my clients to follow this rule: If you are well rested and feeling good, train long or hard as the program suggests. If you are feeling less than great, do a Recovery Ride of the full length of the suggested ride for the day. If you are really tired, replace the training with a nap. For my clients that regularly have trouble getting enough sleep for good recovery, we have the rule that they must sleep to train.

The training plan might say something like “Sprints (10) if you got 8 hours sleep last night, else Short Recovery Ride” or “Endurance Spin: 4 hours if you got 8 hours sleep last night, else Short Recovery Ride” and so on. When the body is ready for rest, rest will do more to make it stronger than any number of intervals, sprints, training races or long rides. Only replace a ride with a Day Off if you are rather tired or sick. Otherwise, an easy ride is better than no ride and better than a hard ride when tired.


Balancing work and riding commitments


I used to do a lot of racing, however I’ve just started a new job as a waiter which means I work either 12 hour shifts or do split shifts e.g 1130am-1500pm and then 1700pm – 1200am, and I’m struggling to stay race fit. Do you have any tips which I could do to try and keep at my level?

Many thanks.


Scott Saifer says:

Hi Tom,

I’ve had a few waiter-clients. Waiting tables and bike racing is a tough combination. Being on your feet 12-hours a day is really not conducive to recovering from whatever training you manage to squeak in. Here’s the general advice though.

On work days do an hour or two at most of easy spinning. Don’t ride hard in the 8 hours before working. Standing, you won’t recover from it well enough to get a training benefit, and going to work shortly after a hard ride increases your chance of getting sick. On non-work days, sleep in and then go as long as you have time and energy for. Only go long or hard when you’ll have a good opportunity to recover before your next work day.

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