6 weeks ago, when I announced that I was going to start training on my bike again just a week after breaking my collarbone many of my non-cycling friends were shocked. How could I be going back out on the road so soon? That wouldn’t be good for me surely? I explained that I’d be training in my garage, on the turbo trainer. I could feel the blank looks.
So, here dear reader, is my wee guide to turbo training. If you’re a cyclist then you’ll already know this, and know how much fun it is (!), why not tell us about how you manage to make turbo training bearable. Or maybe how you make yourself suffer. We’re weird us cyclists, it’s all about suffering really. Well, that and obsessing about our weight obviously. So here goes.
For me turbo training is done at the Inverurie Institute of Sport, or my garage as it’s otherwise known.
In the Institute it’s important to have a few things. Firstly a bike. That’s quite important really. Also, it can get quite hot in there, so a fan will come in handy. If you can’t get your other-half semi-naked waving a huge feather to keep you cool, then a standing fan will do.
Finally, you’ll need a turbo trainer. The purpose of a turbo trainer is to enable you to train for hours at different levels of intensity, without ever actually going anywhere. The turbo lifts your rear wheel off the ground onto a roller. That roller also applys a magnetic force to your rear wheel that can be adjusted to make the workout harder or easier. My turbo has 10 different levels of pain-setting. My own choice is a Tacx Satori, the choice of several Pro-Tour teams and a pretty robust and decent bit of kit.
So, now that we all know what turbo is, what exactly do you do. Just get on and ride? That must be boring – in my case I’m staring at an old wardrobe with my power levels on it! Sod that. That, my friends, is where interval training comes in. Most people will wear a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) to track their effort. The more scientific-minded amongst us will use power (watts) as a measure of effort instead as it’s more consistent and not affected by how you feel.
Either way, we do intervals. Intervals hurt. For today, after a 10 minute warm up, I’m doing 20 mins at 220 watts, followed by 4 x 10 minutes at 250 watts, pedaling at 70rpm with 5 minutes recovery between intervals. I’ll then cool down with 20 minutes of easy riding. This is a specific session from my coach designed to build strength. There are many other types of interval training that you can do.
Recently, I’ve been introduced to The Sufferfest, a collection of indoor training videos designed to take you to the max, by my good friend John Hunter. At least I thought he was my friend! These are brutal, and yet in suffering we somehow find contentment. I love the feeling in my legs and body after a really hard session. You know you’ve banked some form for later in the year! It also means that we burn heaps of calories so we can eat more. A great advantage at this time of the year!
The final thing to mention is hydration. Working out for a couple of hours in a confined space, you will generate a LOT of heat, even when it’s cold outside. There are lots of good energy drinks out there, however they’re designed for long rides or racing, where you need lots of carbohydrate. This means they’re quite high in calories, not ideal when you’re trying to lose weight! For an easy, or recovery, session I will just drink water. For harder or longer efforts then I now use Hylyte Isotonic Energy Shots. They give you the boost you need, at only 48 calories FTW!
So now, dear readers, you know what we get up to indoors, when we can’t get out on the road. Or when we’re recovering from broken bones. Get it right, with a good training plan and some quality tunes on your ipod and it can actually be quite addictive. In fact, I’m off out now, got a great new 80’s playlist to help me get through today’s session! Alive & Kicking!!