Using commutes for training can be a time saving idea. Let's say biking to work takes you 5 to 10 hours a week. That's plenty of time for exercising. Why not use that time to actually get fit which has many benefits?

Intervals are usually required for if you're looking into breaking the plateau. With frequent stops, maybe power meters make staying in our target zone easier.

If your only options are bike boulevards, greenways, trails, and low volume residential streets, can you effectively train? Safety is important. There's curbs, roundabouts, stop signs, yield signs, downhills, major street crossing, etc which can cause interruptions.

The intervals include anaerobic, VO2 max, threshold, and sweet spot. Some workouts say to do 20 minute threshold or sweet spot intervals, and others say to do VO2 max for a few minutes.

I'm doing sweet spot base training, and I plan on doing general build.

How much interruption is too long? Can I just aim for 40 minutes in the target power zones and for the rest of the ride recovery zone? It's likely to be interrupted 20 times by major street crossings. Each intervals might last 2 minutes followed by half a minute of waiting for the lights to change. Maybe they can be used for mini recoveries.

Can workouts also be split? Say your commutes are shorter or you're busy. You might split your workout throughout two or more rides or days, or use your breaks at work or school for your workout. For example, if you 4x10 or 6x10 intervals can you do 2x10 in the morning and 2x10 in the afternoon, or 3x10 on Monday and 3x10 on Tuesday? It's commonly agreed that you can split workouts without compromising health benefits but would you hinder gains in endurance or rely more on glycogen?

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    Totally! Intervals are just short windows of maximum effort. Stop signs are a good way to do full-power starts and sprint up to maximum speed as quick as possible.
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 19:36
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    Depending on what you mean by bike boulevards or may not be reasonable to get up to a decent speed. Certainly around here if you're not sharing with cars you're sharing with pedestrians and slow bikes, and it's rare in rush hour to have a clear stretch with good enough visibility to go much more than about 30km/h. In fact attempts have been made to enforce a 20mph limit on major bike routes around this city. Even for me that's just a fast cruising speed. Streets are often much better for putting the power on
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 20:33
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    The main concern would be whether attempting to ride hard on such boulevards is safe for you and others. Most bike paths I've ridden are unsuitable for anything other than cruising along at quite modest speeds. Too narrow, winding, too many obstacles and of course a wide variety of others using the path. That's why cyclists who are training (rather than exercising) do so on the regular roads as they lend themselves to greater speeds and usually have longer sections available outside of city/town limits. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 2:53
  • Do you have any hills? Even charging up a small hill can be a decent interval
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:06
  • @ChrisH Bike boulevards use traffic calmed neighbourhood streets. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_boulevard
    – Brian
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


In principle yes, but keep in mind that, while you will be using public places you will be likely meet other cyclists who are not there to train and will act, to your eyes, just like moving obstacles: kids riding and suddenly stopping or turning, flocks of teens looking at their phones while riding one hand and then suddenly stopping their bike across the lane, elderly people just taking a ride to enjoy the sun, etc.

You, while busy in training, might even call them like CSO (Cyclist Shaped Object), but in reality they are as legitimate users as you are. And I know fellow amateur cyclists who prefer to practice peloton techniques on the highway rather than on a cycling lane (dumb, isn't it?).

With that in mind, how heavily will that affect your training schedule? If you are really chasing the numbers and the performance I assume the impact will be heavy, and maybe it is better if you look for a better place (either less used or dedicated to training). If you just want to put some more effort, go for it and take it as a good chance to also improve your reflexes.

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    Spot on. As an example I was (not training but) riding along a nice straight bike path the other day at ~25km/h ready to pass a much slower bike. 'd already eased off and was covering the brakes. Just as I was about to call out a greeting the other bike swerved to avoid something I couldn't see; I had to hit the brakes. I was lucky to (a) not hit the other cyclist or the fence, and (b) stay upright -- my front wheel slid in a patch of wet leaves (in typical English fashion we both apologised and all was well). Had I been concentrating on training or going fast we would have collided
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:05
  • Even though you passed with a reasonable distance?
    – Brian
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 21:36
  • @Han-Lin the path is around 2.5m wide and the other cyclist was over to the left (as is the norm here) I moved over to the right to pass (on the same line oncoming bikes would take). The other then pulled out a sensible distance round the obstacle (a bike lying partly on the path while the owner rested), which meant an overlap between the lines our handlebars traced out.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 17:00

We don't have exactly that sort of street here but on similar streets issues include:

  • pedestrians being much less cautious and stepping out from between parked cars than on normal roads
  • slow and/or unpredictable bikes (often the same cyclists wear headphones)
  • cars emerging from driveways or parking spaces without looking for fast bikes (or other fast traffic).
  • traffic claming measures that are fun if you're lucky, but hazardous if they obstruct lines of sight or squeeze oncoming traffic into your path.
  • delivery vehicles double parking because they can get away with it as they're not blocking "real" traffic (and there are often a lot of parked cars making it worth their while).

You might get a good sprint in sometimes but it would be very hard to stick to an interval plan safely (and I'm not just referring to your own safety)


A lot of multi-use trails and bike boulevards will have slower traffic unless you hit them really early. At interval speed, you will be a menace to that traffic, and they will interfere with your workout. Getting enough space to do a 20-minute threshold or sweet spot interval in most cities is probably impractical or impossible.

Keep in mind you also need to warm up and cool down. Shoehorning a proper threshold/sweet spot interval session into a commute is probably not a great idea, even if traffic permits. You won't have enough time in zone unless you're a beginner. Also, even a 30 second pause from such an interval allows your heart rate to recover a bit - I believe mine goes down by about 10 beats/minute. That can enable you to extend your interval session, and I will do it once if I'm trying to push for a long interval. Doing it repeatedly will probably make your session less effective. Same for VO2max intervals.

If and only if traffic permits, I can see doing anaerobic intervals. You basically sprint all out for 30 seconds, then ride easy. I think that 8 sprints in about an hour ride is one example of an anaerobic capacity workout. I can see building a commute around that.

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