Those of us who like a second helping of Christmas pudding will be plotting the New Year training regime. Just leave out the turbo.
If I’m honest, it didn’t come as a surprise – the winter coat has been steadily growing since late summer and the need for a thorough detox and intense training regime has developed from a minor nag to a full-blown itch.
In short, it’s time to dig out the turbo again.
Unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, your turbo trainer, bought with the best intentions, will now be gathering dust in the shed. A few frantic sessions at insane cadences enough to cement the sheer tedium of turbo training deep in the psyche.
Turbo or glass of wine? Wine. Turbo or TV? TV. Turbo or stick needles in my eyes? Needles.
Thankfully, 45-minute turbo sessions every evening are by no means obligatory for a rapidly fattening cyclist to regain a respectable level of fitness. There are other, more civilized methods, none of which involve pedaling furiously in a shed while the neighbours nervously twitch curtains wondering whether to call the police.
The fact is turbo training is boring and riding a bike furiously while remaining absolutely still is daft. Granted, cat 1 race snakes may want to rise above the tedium to gain that extra watt of power; but, for the rest of us, there are more enjoyable ways to improve fitness.
It might sound obvious to those who already ride to work, but cycle commuting is probably the single most efficient way of improving fitness. It’s both time and cost efficient, is good for the environment and, as an added incentive, can help with the nightly wind down from work-related woes.
Dead time that would otherwise be used for travelling to work can instead become part of a training regime.
As soon as you have embraced cycle commuting, the possibilities become limitless. Why not try some interval training on the evening commute? What about some extra miles by planning an extension? My favourite, however, is hill repeats – find a suitable climb somewhere on the route and ride, ride, ride.
It helps if the climb is closer to home, meaning you can go at maximum intensity.
Early to rise
Rising early and getting an hour’s intense ride in before the daily grind begins can also work wonders. The benefit over commuting is that, unless you have a shower at work, you’re limited with how hard you can push yourself in the morning. If you rise early, you can ride at maximum threshold without the risk of stinking out the office.
Again, for maximum benefit, it’s worth working out different loops from where you live, some of which should include climbs, some not to maintain variety and prevent boredom. Also, preparation is key – get everything laid out the evening before so that more time can be spent on the bike and less time getting ready.
It probably amounts to sacrilege to a large number of cyclists, but spinning classes can really help to improve fitness and are far less tiresome than the turbo. The downsides are that it means first joining a gym and then having to frequent it, but even these hardships are worth enduring if it means the turbo gets to keep its coat of dust.
A new year brings new hope and new aspirations, but most of those – for a cyclist – will involve training. One key ingredient to sticking with a new regime, therefore, is to make training as enjoyable as possible.
For me, that means getting out on the bike – and for my bike to be on the road.
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