Turbo Training: Why and How

Over the last couple of weeks, the great British Weather had decided to subject cyclists to some proper ‘January’ conditions  As a result, the cycling population was split into a few clear camps: Those that just keep riding outside, those that keep riding inside, and those that take the opportunity to have a break.

Personally, I decided to place myself firmly in category ‘Inside’. I’ll do my best to evaluate the last couple of weeks via imagery, as this might be the best way to go about it.

It all started with a very, very wet ride…

Unfortunately, the wet ride resulted in a little skid of a wheel over a poorly repaired section of road in Smallfield (you know where they dug the road up in a line, and left a ridge?). This resulted in:
Two weeks later, this now looks like this… we’re getting there…:
During the process of the healing, it also snowed. I wanted to be training like this:
I decided it wasn’t really possible to do that on wet, dark, snowy roads. So it was time to jump aboard the stationary training device:
There are several things required to do this properly:
1) A good session – never EVER try to just pedal like you would outside. Unless you’re superman/wonderwoman you will only get bored and start pedalling at 2mph. Sufferfest videos are a good start if you’re not following a specific plan, and just want something to make you work hard.
2) Kick ass music. And variation. Mid-week I got sick of Slipknot and Rage Against the Machine… so I opted for a bit of girl power with Tsunami Bomb, No Doubt, and some jumpy punky Pennywise:
3) A good fan, or a very cold garage (don’t really recommend the latter but I don’t have much choice sometimes.._
4) A speed/cadence measure… I went 2 years without this – and I can safely say that in the absence of a power meter, it’s the best way of making sessions at least a bit measurable (for me, annoyingly, not comparatively to each other as my turbo is useless and resistance changes every time I move it, but at least  I can compare one rep with another during each session!)
4) LOTS of water
With the above, I found my ‘rides’ went by without too much mental sufferance (leg sufferance is another issue). In fact, I even completed a couple smiling. Slightly. I whinge about turbo sessions-  we all do – but truth be told, they usually feel damn effective and sometimes that’s enough to make the build up in your legs feel a bit less awful as the endorphins take over.
I also couldn’t do any running because actually walking was kind of painful enough (interestingly pedalling felt ok.. but I may have been blocking it out..). I usually do a little mid-week run, so I decided to make lemonade with lemons and get in some extra core work with this..
So – it’s been about two weeks of switching it up a bit. And this weekend – the snow melted. Yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday) – were absolutely beautiful days to be riding a bike. I was rather pleased, because truth be told, I was getting concerned. With a race in a few weeks time, the thought of standing on a start line with no real miles of genuine road beneath my wheels was starting to make me nervous. But never fear… I can honestly say that this weekends’ riding felt fantastic.
After pulling my wheel over a fixed resistance unit all week, the freedom of just rolling was beautiful. So – next time it’s pee-ing it down, or the roads are icy and you find yourself staring at the wall or the TV screen (playing race clips… don’t you EVER turbo to a film – I do not believe you can multitask that well) – just remember, when you get off the nasty machine and onto the road, it’s going to feel bloody amazing. So head down. Get on with it. It’ll all be worth it in the end. And actually, with the right (loud) music – it might even be fun.

Published by michellearthurs

I'm an NCTJ Journalist and work at Cycling Weekly. Previous to this, I was the Editor at Total Women's Cycling. I've also dabbled in marketing and copywriting - having been Marketing Coordinator and Social Media/Content Editor at Evans Cycles. My first job was working on a local newspaper.  I've written for a variety of titles on a freelance basis, too. I got into cycling when I entered my first triathlon in 2010. I now race crits, road races, time trials, and do a lot of track training for not very much track racing.

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