I’m a cyclist at my core, but these days my life doesn’t revolve around my bike the way it did when I was 20. I’m a cyclist, but I’m also a father, husband, and business owner. I don’t have endless hours to spend building up the massive endurance base that characterizes so many classic training programs. I don’t have time to be the cyclist I was 30 years ago, and to be honest with you, I don’t have any desire to be that guy again. My life is fuller—and more fulfilling—than it has ever been, and although I’m glad cycling is an important part of my life, I’m equally glad that it ranks behind my family and business in priority.
My current relationship with cycling is not unique; there are tens of thousands of cyclists in the United States who still love to ride but used to ride a lot more than they do now. Almost every cyclist I talk to over the age of 30 has some version of the same story. They all used to go out on epic 4-hour-plus rides on weekends and put in 15 to 20 hours of training on a weekly basis; many raced, and some even claim to have kicked butt. Then they got a real job, fell in love, bought a house, had kids, and so on. Cycling is still their passion and still takes up significant space in the garage, but now the car is worth more than the bike on the roof (instead of the other way around), and the kids’ soccer games and recitals take precedence over a long training ride or driving 3 hours each way to race a 1-hour criterium.
Our relationship with our sport may have changed, but our desire to be fit, fast, and powerful hasn’t diminished. I hate being slow, especially because I know what it feels like to be fast. I hate getting dropped, because I know what it feels like to drive the pace and make others suffer. And I hate to see riders soft-pedaling ahead of me at the tops of rolling hills, because I used to be the one politely slowing down so my friends could keep up. I love the feeling of being on top of the gear, spinning along effortlessly in a fast-moving pack. I love knowing I have the power to accelerate up a small hill, jump out of a corner, bridge a gap, or take a good pull through a strong headwind. I love how it feels to look around and know I have more left in the tank than some of the other riders, and that they’re closer to their limits than I am to mine. I like being fit, fast, and powerful on the bike, and after talking to thousands of cyclists on my travels around the world, I know you do, too.
For the majority of working cyclists, your training program is the only thing stopping you from enjoying cycling the way you used to. Why? Because predominant theories in training are still stuck in the 1980s.
Yes, we have dramatically improved the precision of training with power meters, heart rate monitors, and global positioning system (GPS) units, but the fundamental infrastructure of training hasn’t changed in a long time. As athletes, our lifestyles have changed dramatically, but our approach to training has remained essentially the same.
The Time-Crunched Training Program (TCTP) is a new approach to training that takes a different path to endurance fitness. It works around busy schedules by systematically applying greater intensities to achieve bigger gains with fewer and shorter rides. But that doesn’t mean it’s a shortcut to fitness; there’s no such thing. The workouts are strenuous and the workload is high. Because of that the benefits match and sometimes exceed those achieved through programs that call for twice the weekly training hours. If your ambition is to race at a high level, either again or for the first time, the TCTP will make you competitive in local and regional races. If you just want to improve your strength and stamina on the bike, it will give you the fitness you need to push the pace at the local group ride and enjoy challenging rides. If you want to achieve high performance fitness in the limited time you have available for training, it’s time to embrace a new approach to endurance training.