In search of the 'Too Close to the Volcano' Plan

So, we have all been there. Those times in life when we get a little to close to Mount Sufferlandria and training becomes the last thing on our minds. It might be the all consuming project at work (my current nemesis). But I also remember having new babies, complicated child care or schooling schedules, or other general life events which cause the same problems. Unlike sickness or injury we are perfectly capable of GvA’s “best” ideas but feel so burned that hitting Recharger day after day is oh, so appealing.

But, being the fierce Sufferlandrians we are the idea of abandoning our homeland for some time in Couchlandria is equally hard to contemplate.

So looking for some guidance or plan suggestions for these times when you are just too close to the volcano and crave some structured training to maintain gains made when life was a little more normal and to be ready to pick up again when normalcy returns. Ideally the suggestions require minimal mental effort to achieve (no hammer or shovel level motivation required) and provide a chance to get away from the heat and be able to return refreshed and recharged to face life’s other challenges.

@DarrenDa Have you checked out the Transition Plans? Those were developed for the situation you are describing. You can also layer on some yoga as an option.

I have looked at the Transition plans but at six weeks they were a little short. And I also got the impression they were more about transitioning down to base miles and then back up. I was hoping to avoid going back to a pure base miles approach as I was hoping for more training stimulus to maintain fitness where possible on those days when I could get away and hit it a little harder.

@DarrenDa Ok - so maybe just stick with something like all purpose road but reduce your metrics - maybe 80 to 85%? SUF has lots of HIIT training - usually one or two a week for most plans so you may need to adjust on the fly sometimes.

Hey Darren – There are two transition plans. The ‘Down’ plan is for when you’re coming off of a big seasion and want to start to wind down your training. The ‘Up’ plan is when you’ve been riding a bit and want to prepare yourself for more intensity. Neither one prepares you for ‘base’ as we’re not a big believer in that concept.

So what’s the right plan for when life is getting in the way? Or like I said in the title - I have managed to get a little too close to the volcano? Sounds like transition is not it - I don’t really want to transition down to an off-season level or up to more training given the 12-14 hour work days I have been doing.

Is there something out there to provide descent training stimulus to help maintain at least most of my previous gains but understands that right now I cannot commit to pursuing the improvements I really wish I could be making?

And I realize I may be asking for the impossible here. If so it would be great to know because its one less thing to worry about. I had some big plans for the summer - 6 days of riding in the Pyrenees assuming I could get there. This has been postponed because of work commitments and I would love to maintain the improvements I made before life got in the way so when next year comes around I am building on top of where I left off and not starting over.

It sounds like you could benefit from using the ‘chat to a coach’ service. I’ve used it before and it was really good to go through some of these questions that are sometimes hard to cover off on the forum.

My suggestion would be something like novice all road to give some structure. If you don’t want the intensity of the hard sessions just swap them out but think something has to ultimately give way. Ie you won’t retain all current fitness by dropping volume and intensity. But…you’ll be way fitter than if you aim for the stars and then blow up and stop all together!


I’d say Yes.
Training and gaining = takes time; maintaining = takes time
You ain’t got the time.
We all wish we could have the best of both worlds (family/work time AND bike time) but really we have to compromise one or the other.

The best bang for your buck here would be a low volume, high intensity plan. If you reduce both volume AND intensity then it is impossible not to de-train to some extent. So maybe a couple of short, but hard hits per week when you can fit them in - ideally several days apart. There are plenty of workouts in the SUF library that would serve that purpose.

A few years ago, before I got into increased road riding and SUF I used to do “Sprint-8” HIIT training on my cross-trainer and bike machines. Sprint-8 is a very simple 20 min HIIT session with 8x30 sec maximal sprints with 90 sec recoveries. It is pretty effective for what it is and a good option if you simply don’t have time for anything else. It can be done on any trainer, but I think it was originally developed for bike. See link below for detail:-

Also worth adding that it’s always a good idea to review your nutrition, sleep etc at these times. Any improvements in those will bring benefits right down the line, both on and off the bike!