While I am a firm believer in getting out on the road and building plenty of miles in the legs, there is certainly a strong case for not packing the turbo away over the summer months and continuing to use it for some key sessions.
Bike training: turbo vs road cycling
Turbo training: how to avoid making 9 common mistakes
1. Time efficiency
Preparing to ride on the road, especially if it’s cold, can take as long as the ride itself. If you are juggling work, family and energy you might find the turbo is the most time efficient option to take. With a well planned session at hand you will have got through the warm up and be into the main set by the time you had opened the front door if venturing outside.
2. Quality over quantity
If you live in a major city and have to battle the traffic and traffic lights to get anywhere decent to ride then you might well be better off staying at home and having the guaranteed intensity the turbo can provide you with. Rather than tackle the traffic you can hit the numbers your race fitness depends on and spend less time doing so.
3. Getting aero
Setting up your race bike on the turbo is a great way of getting your body used to the different position you will adopt during a race. If you are planning on using clip-on aero bars or you have a TT bike, you need to be spending time on this bike and in this position every week during the race season. For those planning to race on flat courses but live in hilly areas of the country the turbo is really useful for holding the aero posture for a sustained period of time.
4. Interval training – am I better on the road or turbo?
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with lovely, quiet and straight roads then you might fancy tackling some high intensity intervals while on the road. However, if you haven’t then my advice is to use the turbo for these sessions. While you will need a good quality turbo to provide you with the appropriate gears to hit the intensity required, the turbo does allow you to ‘zone in’ on effort and technique rather than reducing your effort levels to focus on balance, traffic, corners and descents.
5. Box set catch-up time?
If you are struggling to motivate yourself to get on the bike then by all means tune in to Breaking Bad and lose yourself in your workout – but beware! I would leave these sessions for those winter workouts where some low intensity sessions and building that diesel engine are your priorities. At this time of year, you need high quality sessions often at intensities above race pace to lift your threshold.
6. Turbo top-up?
In our changeable climate the turbo can be a real asset. Rather than being put off by a dodgy weather forecast (which are wrong as often as they are right!) get yourself outside and if the weather does get too bad to ride then turn back and jump straight on the turbo and complete the duration you were originally planning. There are no excuses for the organised triathlete!
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Matt Sanderson is a BTF Level 3 coach and has qualified for the IM 70.3 World Championships three times. Find out more about him at www.triathloncoaching.uk.com