Turbo Drainer

mhowoodby mhowoodJan 17th 2013
I've been engaged in a Twitter conversation this week regarding the weight I give to Turbo training in my Ironman prep. It's actually a recurring theme, with most triathletes incredulous when I say that virtually ALL my Outlaw 2011 prep was on the Turbo.
Turbo Drainer
"Sorry. 6. Hour. Turbo. Set. Wuh?"

To be fair, the constant in this is that the question normally comes from either single, or childless couples, who still have 'my time'! That's often a foreign concept to a parent.
Time? Personal Time? What's that?

As much as I love my stats, and that I am constantly trying to maximise training effect by 'training smart', I'm not married to the Turbo.  However, many pro athlètes eulogise about it. Take Andy Potts for example. "Athletes like Potts, who do most of their riding indoors, say that they spend more time working at higher intensities on indoor trainers than they do outdoors-and they get fitter in the process."
Triathlete magazine article
Turbo Drainer
"Riding inside is conducive to "high-quality" training. There are no stoplights to stop for, no descents to coast down, and no other cyclists to draft behind. Motorists cannot distract you from the task at hand, weather conditions cannot slow you down. The idiosyncrasies of the roads do not affect your workout. Instead, you are free to perform exactly the workout you design.

Beyond all that, the indoor trainer, much as the pool does with swimmers, encourages athletes to divide their workouts into variable-intensity segments to stave off the boredom of training in a confined space. Consequently, athletes spend more time working at higher intensities on indoor trainers than they do outdoors-and they get fitter in the process."

See, it's not just down to the British weather.... Okay. It's partly that ;)
"What's wrong with you?"

My dalliance with the Turbo Trainer started, really, with a road cycling accident 8 weeks prior to Outlaw 2011. This left me with a dilemma regarding my prep (see previous post ). I was injured. Confidence knocked, and my wife and kids were concerned that I would end up in casualty again.

Enter T2 Coaching or plain old Tom Bennett as I knew him then. I'd already been bending Tom's ear about heart rates and power on my Tacx Flow, and a protocol for CP20 / FTP. Tom helped structure a 6 week plan that would get me on the Turbo and ready for Outlaw. To be fair, he was slightly appalled when I told him that his 6 hour weekend sessions would be on the Turbo.
See Outlaw report for more info
Turbo Drainer
NOT that riding outside doesn't have it's plus points. Nothing can replace the handling experience, or the surface changes, weather, or myriad variable that may crop up.

However, for the most part, I just don't have time for Group Rides; and the stopping for lights, and tea, and cake, and waiting for people to catch up, and chat!
Oh my God, how they chat!

I go on the Turbo and I have a 1 hour session, or a 3 hour session. Doesn't matter. Bang. It's done.I had a plan. I've hit my targets. A quality session has been knocked out.
What's more, I was HOME but more on that subject later.
Turbo Drainer
"butbutbut it's Richmond Paaaark."

As I mentioned before, nothing can replace the skills and experience cycling outdoors. So, when the time does come to venture outside, you're more likely to find me in Richmond Park than lapping Box Hill.
10.8km per lap, and I have friends that will knock out 17 of these in prep for Ironman. That's just shy of 190KM! Perhaps not as boring as the Turbo, but close.
It is a necessary though, and the advantage is that the Family know where I am, and I'm 'close' by should I be needed and have to cut things short.
Turbo Drainer
The Parent bit is coming back...
That is the biggie in all this. I was HOME.
With two young children (5 and 7), and a marriage to care for, my weekend is pretty busy.
If it isn't social events, it's the Dad Taxi. What's more, I don't want to miss them. I love them.
Weekdays are not dissimilar. With at least one of us needing to be home from 7pm to administer Bedtime and be there incase the house burns down!

See where I'm going yet?
What allows you to hit a Quality cycle with those constraints?
What enables you to be Home and still log almost 10 hours a week of cycling?
You guessed it.

Get on that Turbo.
If anyone looks at you crazily, remember; you're doing it for the kids!
by guest: , Jan 17th 2013 12:54
I totally get what you're saying about the "no drafting", "no chatting", "no cake stops" thing. When I go out (or used to go out) for a ride, it's 99% of the time on my own; I've never seen the point of riding in a pack when you won't be doing that in any race (well, not the ones I do anyway), apart from the support if you blow a tub in the middle of nowhere with no phone reception and your repair kit fails and your husband speeds past you 5 minutes later 'cause you had a 10 minute head start on a 90km ride and he doesn't see you in the hedge or hear you yell at him (*ahem* that totally didn't happen to me last year, oh no). But my handling is weak and I'm not confident in it even when it's a load better than it is at the moment. So while I am happy to plug away on the turbo at home with all the benefits that brings, I'm gagging to get out on the roads and sort my handling out again (4 months on from a collar-bone break and I'm still pooping myself in traffic, can't signal or ride if the road isn't bone dry). You won't catch me on my bike in Richmond Park though... can't stand the place for cycling! (That said, it might be a safe place to get handling skills back *sigh*).

So maybe you've given me some good food for thought there - weekday bike training on the turbo at home, weekend long rides out in Richmond Park (at least for now) for the handling skills. Thanks!
roborobby member: roborob, Jan 30th 2013 15:18
Great post - turbo (or preferably Wattbike IMO) is by far the most efficient way of getting your bike workouts done (bearing in mind we're on the most parts triathletes and not for example crit racers). The biggest challenge is staying on it for the full duration of the planned session. I think i would seriously struggle with a 6 hour session, especially given the promiximity of my turbo to the couch. Saying that, if you can overcome your mind demons in this situation, then that can only make you a stronger all-round endurance athlete!
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