In Decemeber, I wrote the blog "Computrainer, will it make me soft or fast?"
I had just become a Computrainer owner and ambassador, and promised to share my progress with you. So January is almost over and I have spent the month getting aquainted with the Computrainer.
The majority of my cycling in January has been done in the garage rather than admiring the best views on offer in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather has made this a pretty wise deicsion. A decision that was validated as I hit the deck one too many times as an ice casualty. Cycling+ice= wooble, slip, slide and crash =ouch.
Beautiful winter mornings, but not ideal road riding conditions
Though I have discovered the garage is pretty cold place to begin with, many layers are initally needed, but the computrainer is great for generating heat!
Start with many layers and finish with very few
The computrainer is all about Watts, the measure of how much power you put through the pedals. By riding at different levels of watts, you can control your training and be scientific in your approach.
To determine what watts I needed to ride at for my different sessions I needed to do a power test. Now these come in many different forms. Before I owned a computrainer, I would check my progress using a 20minute test on the turbo using a stages power crank. This involved, sitting on the turbo, warming up and then cycling as hard as possible for 20minutes and noting down the average watts hit. I had done a Ramp test, with Craig Stevenson at the OTE performance centre in November. Here the bike automatically adds more watts, 30w/min known as (CPET 30w/min).
I could have used my results from these tests but from what I had read, it appears beneficial to test yourself using the equipment you will be using as every power meter/ device is slightly different.
On Simons computrainer information he suggests a 30minute test and then you use this data to work out the watts for different sessions. So I did the 30minute test, it was painful, my legs burned, my lungs exploded and the garage floor was covered in sweat. But I had my watts data.
How have I been using the shiny watts?
I am getting into a rhythm with 3 rides per week on the computrainer, more if the weather is terrible and prevents an outdoor spin.
The different ways I have been using the Computrainer include:
A hill session
The computrainer allows you to select different courses to ride, these vary from Ironman courses to 10mile TT loops to Hills. For my weekly hill reps session I select the long hill climb, a 6% gradient hill which i put on repeat, so if I get to the top and I am half way through a rep I don't scupper the session as the computrainer just continues from the bottom of the hill. A neat feature that took me a few goes to find! I don't use watts for this session. What I use the computrainer for is being able to ride a hill and get the resistance indoors rather than cycling up and down a road hills in cold, wet, snowy weather.
Once a week i do a session that is 1hour 15mins to 1hour 30mins long. 15mins warm up and down with a tempo in the middle. The tempo progresses each week. So we started off at 45minutes, cycling at 85% power of my 30min power test, this has progressed to 50mins at 85% and then 45 minutes at 90%. The computrainer, is a great tool for tempo work outs as you can plug in the watts required and off you go. No interruptions, no traffic lights, no uphill's or downs that throw you off course from achieving the watts. It creates nice smooth graphs of consistent watts and Heart rates.
This is a very similar session to what I consistently did last year. Long intervals of 20- 5minutes. It is a love, hate session. 20minutes of cycling in that slightly uncomfortable zone, do-able but concentration is required, take your eye off the ball and the cadence falls, the watts drop and you mess up. A lot of sweat is produced from this session, so a good towel is definitely required to mop up the aftermath.
Steady easy rides
For when it is too snowy/icy outside. Music on, pedal away, nothing fancy, nothing glamourous but does the job.
Adam finding refuge from the snow in the garage. we should plug a generator to the bikes, heat our house from our own pedal power.
Old habits die hard
I enjoy the structure of the power based training, it keeps you focussed, you can high five yourself when you have hit the numbers, but nothing beats the fresh air and riding with friends. So alongside my rides on the computrainer I have still headed out a few times a week on the roads. What has changed though, is my mindset. I have acknowledged that for me to do the quality sessions on the computrainer, I need to take the road rides very steady. I now get dropped on the hills by club members as I try and keep my Heart Rate down. My ego is taking a bashing. But I have a plan, it may work, it may not, but lets see.
Old habits die hard! A sunday dawn raid ride with Alba Rosa Cycle club. Wasn't excepting this much snow in the dales.
Riding with power is a learning curve, riding on the computrainer even more so. But it is helping me, with more structure and creating specific training to my needs.
Power is getting bigger, bolder and more badass! Check out this cool video of Helen Wyman's power profile over laid on the world cyclocross course ahead of the World Champs this week. Good luck Helen and Team GB, especially OTE Sports Jack Clarkson aka @jacksplats
It is interesting hearing about other peoples use of indoor training, Lionel Saunders is a fantastic Ironman athlete who uses the Computrainer and treadmill for most of his training, this interview with Lionel on Cup Of Tri podcast is a really interesting insight.