On the (indoor) road to recovery

After 6 weeks of pain I made a tentative return to cycling this week; unfortunately not being quite recovered enough to do more than 20 minutes on the turbo trainer. Despite my usual reluctance to use the dreaded contraption, I actually enjoyed it and was pleased that my body reacted ok with nothing more than a bit of muscle tightness for a couple of days afterwards.

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20 minutes on the bike, 30 minutes off the bike fiddling around with bits of equipment 

It felt great to be strong enough to do something more strenuous than rolling on a foam roller. Although I had been been doing that strenuously and often enough to wear out my wife’s old styrofoam roller and had to splurge on one of those expensive rigid rollers as a replacement. I bought one in hot pink by way of apology as this is my wife’s favourite colour. On top of this I been attending weekly pilates classes on my quest to become a bit more flexible. Unfortunately, by spending most of my time looking after a baby, rolling on a pink roller and attending pilates classes I was beginning to question my masculinity. So it’s nice to get back to something close to resembling normal service.

Indoor interval training – keeping it interesting

In order to alleviate the boredom of indoor training I have decided to carry out a couple of structured weekly workouts. I intend to use the turbo trainer twice during the week and try to get out on the road at the weekend if I have the chance.

Of these two indoor sessions I will be trying two different forms of interval training with the intention of increasing cycling speed and endurance (plus the need to continue burning body fat without my daily commute as we head towards the eating and drinking season of the year).

The first type of workout is a simple interval training session. This week, following a 5 minute warm up I carried out three 15 minute intervals of what I perceived to be a hard intensity. These were separated by a short break of about two minutes to allow myself to recover.

I tried to maintain a cadence of around 110rpm with a moderate resistance on the trainer. On the second and third interval I finished with a 60 second sprint

This resulted in a steady increase in heart rate (and a puddle of sweat beneath the bike)

The second type of interval training I have begun is a form of high intensity training known as ‘Tabata’. There’s a bunch of information available online about it, plus it’s been around for a while so I’m not going to bore people with too many details. But basically I warmed up for 4 minutes, rode 8 x 20 second intervals at my max speed with a short 10 second break between each set, and then ended with a 4 minute cool down. The attraction of this type of training is that it only lasts 12 minutes in total, and the pain is confined to a 4 minute window. The downside is that very little light comes through that window and the burning sensation in the legs, lungs and back of the throat never really has quite enough time to disappear.

Short, sharp spikes of activity

Small jumps in heart rate but not enough rest time to properly recover

There appears to be quite a lot of science behind both of these methods of training and it’s easy to find out more with a little searching on the internet. Personally I find that they offer enough of a challenge to motivate myself to complete each session properly and have alleviated the potential boredom from an essentially mundane activity.