|When short on time, climb.|
It's common for athletes with jobs, families, and other commitments to occasionally find themselves struggling to put in training units as they were originally planned. The age old question then becomes..."Do I skip it, or push it to another day?".
A Matter of Interference
A thoughtfully crafted training plan uses the theory of interference to associate three training units; yesterday's workout, today's workout, and tomorrow's workout. Depending on the adaptation objective (ie. stacking to create fatigue or varied to create relative rest) those training units have a specifically prescribed modality, intensity, and duration. When a training unit is pushed ahead a day, even to a "relative rest" day, it potentially upsets the prescribed interference. It's often better to take a rest day than push a workout ahead.
Not All Training Units Are Created Equal
However, for athletes whose events are less than ninety minutes or for whom ascents are a key element (ie. mountain running), there are some training units that are more physiologically important than others. Those training units are typically the ones designed to improve anaerobic threshold (in runners) or functional threshold power (in cyclists). Because these training units are so rigorous they are used sparingly and typically only once or twice a week. If an athlete finds themselves trying to decide whether or not to skip one of these higher intensity training units the following expression helps to solve the dilemma...when short on time, climb.
The Most Bang For The Buck
It's always better to put in a hard 30 minute effort than to take a zero. And there is perhaps no better training terrain than hills to hit so many important performance variables. Hills help to improve anaerobic threshold, functional threshold power, strength endurance, and mental toughness. If a longer threshold or tempo training unit isn't going to be feasible because life gets in the way, try one of these two SOT (short on time) workouts;
10 minute-warm up
4 minutes of uphill tabatas; 10 seconds of max effort followed by 20 seconds of jogging (x8)
5-10 minute cool-down
Sweet Spot 10
10 minute warm-up
10 minutes of climbing at just under FTP with 10 seconds out of the saddle surges every 3 minutes.
5-10 minute cool-down
While not specifically designed to replace an original threshold or tempo training unit, this short on time approach is far superior than a zero.