Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Interval training - indoor trainer or out on the trail?

With the race season fast approaching most of us have started moving away from base training and started doing more anaerobic and lactate threshold intervals. I've been spending one or two evenings a week on the turbo trainer doing just this for about 3 weeks now. I get quite a lot out of these sessions - hard at the time, hard to motivate myself to get on the bike but I feel fabulous once its done! The joy of training indoor on the turbo to do such sessions is their replicability and fact that you can maintain a very steady and consistent power/HR. But it is mentally tough to push through the pain, especially for me since I find it very hard to get a comfortable cadence/gear indoors and even with 2 fans get significant heat fatigue. With this in mind I decided to try some hard efforts outside.
Indoor trainer workout

Same session outdoors
Rising up from one end of our village is a steady climb of around 130m vertical gain which seemed perfect for the sort of session I wanted to do. I repeated the intervals I had done 2 days previously indoors and the difference was noticable. There was less pain in my chest than on the indoor trainer and I could breathe more easily and most importantly perhaps, it took much less mental toughness to get through the session. In addition it is probably more like the feelings I will experience on the race course. There were some downsides however, it was much more difficult to sustain a consistent power and I also have a tendency to initially massively overshoot the power I am aiming for out on the road.

My conclusion? I plan to do a mixture of indoor and outdoor sessions from now on. Indoor hard efforts are good mental and physical training but it is good to mix things up and make sure you aren't so burned out from training that there is nothing left for racing.

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