CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 6 Indoor Intensity

 

Cycling for Runners HEADER2

A new year can be a daunting thing… the excitement and buzz of Christmas is over and suddenly 12-months lie ahead. Many of you may well have already planned early season targets or even objectives for the whole year. However, as I know only too well, for every person who has planned key targets, there will be another person who has planned nothing. So, before you do anything, take some time out and decide on your targets for the coming year. Please remember, these targets do not need to be racing targets. They could be FKT’s, personal projects or even an expedition. Once you have dates in a diary, you will find structuring your training so much easier. It provides perspective!

Did December go well for you?

December can be a tough month. It’s so easy to be distracted and miss training but don’t worry. If you maintained 3-4 sessions per week you are going to be in a great place to build your fitness in 2015.

It goes without saying that if you weren’t injured you will have been out running, be that on the trails or the treadmill. We hope that you managed to include a couple of cycling sessions? Ideally you will have done one easy session spinning the legs to help recovery from running and one ‘faster’ session either on the road or on an indoor trainer to help build stamina and strength

Niandi has been doing several indoor sessions as recovery and she wrote about them HERE

Me? Well you know what, the winter arrived in the UK, the ice came and so did the snow. For me it was perfect. I love running in the cold and snowy conditions. However, cycling outdoors was not an option. Thank goodness for the indoor trainer (Turbo Trainer) and I applied the session we outlined in Article 5 (Here) and I also cycled easy for 30 minutes with a high cadence for recovery.

Here is a summary of the session:

Warm up for 10-minutes ‘spinning’ your legs in an ‘easy’ gear. This is all about getting blood flowing, loosening stiff and/ or tight muscles and preparing for the session ahead.

Session: Perform 2 minutes at 80% of maximum heart rate (keeping cadence on or around 90) – You will need to use your cycling gears to add resistance and provide the necessary difficulty level for you elevate your heart rate. Monitor your HRM with a quality item – We use Suunto Ambit 3 Peak and Ambit 2 units

Recover for 2-minute ‘spinning’ your legs as in the warm up.

Repeat the 2-minute session with 2-minute recovery for an additional 5-times (making a total of 6 in week-1). *In week 2 do 7-repetitions, in week 3 do 8-repetitions and in week 4 do 10-repetitions.

I hit the reps building up the 2-minute intervals over a 4-week period and it felt great.

If you are anything like me, you will not want to loose those gains made over December and January so in February we are going to build with four sessions that you can do indoors or outdoors. 

THE SESSIONS

If you don’t already know, training indoors on a bike is hard; I love it! You have no escape, no rest and your cadence, HRM, legs and sweat rate do not lie. Did I mention sweat! Boy do I sweat indoors. Even with a window open and a fan on me I am like a running tap with water pouring out of me. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated particularly during and after all sessions.

This month we have four sessions for you, one for each week and most of them include the same warm up and warm down. I call this: 5,4,3,2,1.

How does it work?

Your bike gearing will usually have two cogs at the front, for simplicity, we will call this the big ring and the small ring. Typically, a racing bike will have a 52/39 set up. The numbers refer to teeth on the cog. The ‘39’ makes gearing easier in comparison to the ’52.’

shimano-da9000-cset-zoom

At the back you will have a selection of gears, if your bike is relatively new it will probably have 10-cogs.

shimano-da9000-cass-zoom

The rear cogs start small (harder gear) and get larger (easier gear) and step up/ down progressively so that you can maintain an ‘ideal’ cadence (90) irrespective of the terrain. Your rear gearing may look like this:

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25

 The above numbers refer to ‘teeth’ on the rear cogs.

Shimano Dura Ace  press camp 2012 - Kortrijk/Belgium..For example, 39×23 may be used on a steep climb when you need an easier gear or by comparison, if you are riding down a steep hill with the wind behind you, you may use 52×12.

If you are not used to cycle gearing, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will help you.

Depending on your experience, strength, fitness and experience. You may do this session on your small ring (easier) at the front of the bike or the big ring (harder.). I do my sessions on the ‘52’ cog. I am an ex cyclist with experience and bike strength and therefore adapted to pushing harder gears. Remember, you are using cycling to enhance running!

Start as follows:

  • 52*x25 for 5 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x23 for 4 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x21 for 3 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence
  • 52*x19 for 2 minutes aiming for 90 cadence
  • 52*x17 for 1 minute aiming for 90 cadence

 *Note, if you wanted this gearing to be easier you would replace the ’52’ (big ring) with say a ’39’ (small ring) for example.

By the time you reach the final minute you will be completely warm, your heart rate will have slowly elevated and the gearing will be ‘challenging’ but sustainable. Your heart rate will be in the 70-75% zone of max hear rate.

Now the sessions:

The sessions below can be done on the road or on an indoor trainer. It goes without saying that for such specific sessions, an indoor trainer would be preferable as you can control the whole session. If you do try the sessions outside, you will need a good long stretch of flat road. Undulating roads would make this session impossible.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use a heart rate monitor. It’s great to get the feedback. I have included my hear rate profiles recorded via my Suunto for the sessions below.
  • Have water handy – you will need it.
  • If training indoors use a fan or train near an open window.
  • Keep your pedalling technique smooth, don’t fight the bike.

Week 1: 40-minute session

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

*Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 5 minutes. You can expect your heart rate to rise as you maintain the effort.

Drop back down to 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 and repeat the warm up – this loosens the legs and adds souplesse.

Repeat the above set* but in the final minute push really hard to maximal effort. At the end of the final minute you will have a good idea of your maximum hear rate (MHR).

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 1 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 1 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 2: 1-hour session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7635

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

*Stay in the final gear you used for the 1-minute in the warm up and maintain a 90+ cadence for 30 minutes building your effort throughout the session.

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 2 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 2 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 3: 40-minute session

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4, 3, 2, 1 warm up (we miss the 5-min section this time)

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for four more times (total five repetitions)

Cool down with 5-minutes spinning in your start gear, for me, this would be 52×25

Week 3 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 3 heart rate data – Ian Corless

Week 4: 1-hour session

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7659

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for five more times (total six repetitions)

Cool down with 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 but in reverse finishing with just 1 minute in the easiest gear. This works as a great cool down.

Week 4 heart rate data - Ian Corless

Week 4 heart rate data – Ian Corless

NOTE: The above cycling sessions would replace a faster run session in each week and I would still recommend one or even maybe two other cycle sessions per week for recovery. On the recovery sessions just use an easy gear and ‘spin’ with 90+ cadence. Make sure you drink if training indoors, it gets really hot!

©iancorless.com_Scott_Turbo-7619

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Girl What Cycles (3)

©iancorless.com_CarrMill-7280

“I love running cross country….

On a track, I feel like a hamster.”- Robin Williams

I’ve always felt the same as Robin Williams about the indoor trainer. To me, training indoors on a bicycle is just like running on a track or treadmill. Yet, like track and the treadmill, cycling indoors can provide a huge advantage to your training if used in a structured way.

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First and foremost when the weather is horrendous (like it is in the UK at the moment) you can get a good workout indoors in a warm, safe and controlled environment. I am new to cycling and although not inexperienced, braving winter conditions on a bike would be a step too far for me at the moment. This is where the home trainer becomes a useful piece of equipment.

©iancorless.com_Scott-7365

I can still get my fix for the outdoors with my running… to be honest, I love running in cold temperatures but I also incorporate one treadmill session which allows for faster running (hills or intervals) with some fast-paced loud music which is difficult to do outside.

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In a research project at John Moores University, researchers found that when participants exercised to faster-paced music they “chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort”. As well as enhancing performance, music lowers the perception of effort. It dulls or masks some of the pain associated with training. We know from scanning the brain that when athletes are played loud upbeat music there is an increase in activity in the ascending reticular activating system.

For all these reasons I have also been using the home trainer to get in some recovery training after racing or long run sessions. At the beginning of December I completed a 72km trail race at night in sub-zero temperatures. Conditions were very muddy, icy in some parts, with a head-on wind to contend with and as it was at night with poor visibility, the going was tough. Also I forgot to mention I flew out to Lyon on the Saturday, picked up my number, took a shuttle to the start in St Etienne, started the race at midnight, ran to Lyon through the night and flew back to London on Sunday, took a coach, another train ….All a bit crazy and exhausting to say the least. Over the next 2 days following the race, I suffered DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). This meant no running for a few days. I had a fun run planned in Paris the following weekend so I decided to use cycling as “active” recovery. Like running on the treadmill you can quickly get hot very quickly on an indoor trainer. I set myself up near an open window to allow for some ventilation. If you were doing a hard session, an indoor fan would also be a good idea.

Recovery is all about spinning my legs, easing away muscle soreness, getting the blood flowing and I suppose not having too much structure. However, I find indoor training easier if I have a plan to follow and music!

©iancorless.com_Scott-7329

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use your own bicycle. I am using my SCOTT bike fixed to my indoor trainer via the rear wheel. This is perfect as I do not compromise on my cycling position which I have worked hard to make perfect.

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  • Use your normal cycling shoes and pedals

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Suunto Ambit 2

  • Have water available
  • Use a fan or train near an open window
  • Have a towel handy – you will sweat
  • Use music or a TV for stimulus

Need some free music to help you with your indoor session? Try HERE for 50minutes of audio. I personally recommend that you make your own playlist that is specific for your session. Using something like iTunes makes this really easy. Alternatively, a company like Audiofuel provides specific music mixes with or without coaching.

Session 1:

Length : 44 min        

  • Warm-Up : 10min in a very easy gear allowing me to ‘spin’ at a cadence of 90
  • Main Set: 24min alternating 3min at 90 cadence and 3min at 110 cadence. Gearing should be easy and light to allow your legs to spin around. The faster cadence session of 110 allows me to concentrate on cycling technique using the up and down of the pedal stroke and adds souplesse to my legs.
  • Cool Down: 10min easy gear at a cadence of 90

Session 2:

Length: 35min

  • Warm-up: 10min in a very easy gear spinning at 90 cadence
  • Main set: 15min broken down into 30sec at 90 cadence and 30sec at 120 cadence
  • Cool Down: 10min very easy gear at 90 cadence

©iancorless.com_Scott-7351

Initially you will find your legs struggling to get used to using different muscle groups in this recovery work-out. The aim is not to PUSH the gears or have resistance. We don’t want to stress sore muscles. These two sessions are all about spinning legs with an easy gear on the bike and allowing the muscles to recover. This is what is so great about cycling… you can exercise in a non weight bearing way. However, the increased cadence sessions of 110 and 120 will allow you to raise your heart rate.

I shall be doing a turbo session at least once a week as active recovery in my build up to my next long distance run, Paris Mantes 50km towards the end of January. This will be followed by a week off running but 2 turbo sessions before a trip to Costa Rica and the opportunity to run The Coastal Challenge stage race.

Happy New Year and remember, cycling is great for running if used sensibly.

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CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 5 Spice Up Sessions

Cycling for Runners HEADER2

December is here. The days are shorter and many of you will be feeling like hibernating! Nothing wrong with that, training should have peaks and troughs and if you don’t have them, in our opinion you just end up with a series of flat performances.

For the last few months you will have hopefully been incorporating cycling as part of your weekly routine; primarily to replace one or two of your ‘recovery’ runs. Or maybe you have been injured and you are using cycling as rehabilitation? Either way your body will be thanking you for the new stimulus, the lack of impact and the opportunity to try something new.

An article 4 we outlined winter cycling and provided some hints ‘n’ tips to allow you to cycle safely on cold and short days and we also introduced you to indoor training.

In article 5 we are going to spice up your training with two sessions – one for the road and one for indoor training.

Please remember, these sessions are in addition to your recovery cycles and are a replacement for one of your faster, more intensive run sessions.

Worried that cycling will not benefit you as a runner?

Hopping on a road bike or indoor bike provides non-impact cross training that will build your engine, maintain fitness and keep off the pounds! If you are running or cycling you will need strong lungs, a great capillary network and a strong heart. So don’t worry…

First of all, let us have a refresh.

  • Maintain your long run either mid-week or at the weekend
  • Maintain one quality run work out – speed, hills, tempo, fartlek or so on.
  • Incorporate strength and conditioning
  • Stretch post sessions, particularly hamstrings, ITB and calf’s after cycling
  • Have a rest day
  • Cadence – think and concentrate on 90 ‘rpm’ when cycling
  • Use a heart rate monitor and/ or Gps to monitor training

Road ‘V’ Indoor

©goskyride.com

©goskyride.com

Cycling is cycling; yes? Well, yes it is BUT cycling outside in contrast to indoors provides a very different experience. It’s just like running outside in comparison to running on a treadmill.

Many of us would always choose a session outside in comparison to an indoor session, however, indoor sessions are great training sessions that allow us to ‘almost’ completely control the training situation and therefore be very specific. We embrace indoor sessions of 45-90 minutes when we are particularly working on a particular aspect of fitness. For example, you can control your heart rate, monitor your cadence, you have no traffic lights, bad weather or more importantly, danger! You can remain warm, listen to music and embrace a quality workout.

We discussed indoor bike set up in article 4; if you need a refresher, take a look HERE.

Keeping in mind this is our first ‘session’ on the bike it will be an introduction session and one that we recommend you incorporate once a week for the coming four weeks. *We do however recommend you add repetitions with each week for 4-weeks.

The Indoor Session

Image copyright - highergearchicago.com

Image copyright – highergearchicago.com

What you need:

  • Bike
  • Indoor trainer
  • HRM
  • Water
  • Fan
  • Music
  • Towel

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Make sure you have your rear tyre at 100 psi (at least) and ensure that you always inflate to the exact same pressure for every session, that way you have consistency and you can monitor progress.
  • You will apply pressure to the rear tyre by adding resistance from the drum on the indoor trainer. Perform a ‘roll-down’ test each time so that you have a controlled environment. A roll down test works as follows: inflate to 100psi and then apply pressure to the back wheel using the turbo trainer. Cycle and build to a particular speed (say 15mph) and then stop pedalling. Time how long it takes the wheel to stop moving. For example, 4 seconds. Every time you train you should ideally have the same roll down time for consistency and monitoring. If it takes 5 seconds, add more resistance and vice versa.
  • Use a fan to regulate temperature.
  • Drink during the session – you will sweat a great deal!
  • Use music and compile a play list that suits the session – no point listening to classical music if AC/DC are what you need to ramp the session up!
  • A HRM is essential to control your effort and monitor progress
  • Aim for 90 cadence

©iancorless.com©iancorless.com_cyclingforrunners-2

Warm up for 10-minutes ‘spinning’ your legs in an ‘easy’ gear. This is all about getting blood flowing, loosening stiff and/ or tight muscles and preparing for the session ahead.

Session: Perform 2 minutes at 80% of maximum heart rate (keeping cadence on or around 90) – You will need to use your cycling gears to add resistance and provide the necessary difficulty level for you elevate your heart rate. Monitor your HRM with a quality item – We use Suunto Ambit 3 Peak and Ambit 2 units

©iancorless.com_Suunto-0253205

Recover for 2-minute ‘spinning’ your legs as in the warm up

Repeat the 2-minute session with 2-minute recovery for an additional 5-times (making a total of 6 in week-1). *In week 2 do 7-repetitions, in week 3 do 8-repetitions and in week 4 do 10-repetitions.

Tip – you can set your HRM/ GPS to time these intervals for you. That way you can just concentrate on the effort!

Warm down for 10-minutes spinning and then stretch

This session is a quality workout that maximises your time training and provides the necessary stimulus to make you a better, faster and more efficient runner.

The Outdoor Session

Indoor training may just not be your thing? Road riding, particularly in winter is more stressful, less predictable and carries increased risks of accident. The risks are very real, so please be sensible! Our hot tip for cycling in winter is ideally cycle between the hours of midday and 3pm – you have more light, potentially less traffic and the weather should be more predictable. For example, any early morning frosts will have disappeared providing ambient temperatures have increased.

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Lets face it. A beautiful winters day, blue skies, glowing sun and a nip in the air makes you feel great to be alive.

In contrast to an indoor session, road cycling is less controllable due to many of the points already raised, so think about your ride and what you want to achieve. For our first session, we are going to work on ‘structured *fartlek’ and therefore we recommend riding out of any built up areas (use this as a warm up) and then use quiet roads for the session. Ideally the road should be flat or slightly undulating – hill sessions come later in the training!

* Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Warm up for at least 15-minutes, in reality though your warm up may be longer due to your location and how far away quiet roads are.

Once on quite roads build pace using progressively harder gears but still maintain 90-cadence.

Session: 1-min, 2-min, 3-min and 5-min intervals at 80-85% of max HR. Be ‘random’ with how you do these intervals and the session should last 30 to 40-minutes including recovery. Ideally you will do at least 11-minutes of fartlek and build to 22-minutes of fartlek over a 4-week period.

Recovery is based on feel and unstructured, Use heart rate as a guide here. For example, when your heart rate drops back down to 70-75% of max HR – perform another repeat/ interval.

Warm down is as warm up – use cycling home in an easy gear and make sure you stretch post ride.

Incorporate one or both of the above sessions in over a 4-week period and you will start to feel the benefits not only physically and mentally.

In the New Year we will take our sessions up a notch to provide you with a great kick-start for another successful year in sport.

Have a great Christmas break and a great New Year!

*****

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