Issue 59: Winter Training in Full Swing
by Sarah Storey
With so much snow on the ground the challenge of winter training has been exactly that, a challenge! Life at the top of our hill has been slippery and icy for a few weeks now and we have only managed a mere two road rides in the past three weeks. With the team pursuit work on the track to concentrate on though there has been plenty to consider during the long hours on the turbo!
Photo: John Bailey
Earlier in the year we'd all had similar amounts of the white stuff and with 3 different weeks leaving us confined to being at home, both Barney and I had clocked up some hours on the turbo, with my longest ride in one go being a 3 hour turbo session. As the roads have stayed quite slippery recently, and we didn't fancy having to contend with the mad people in vehicles, we have been reacquainting ourselves with the turbo.
Always wanting to beat my previous best, I went for a turbo PB in the first week of December and managed to clock a 3 hour 30 minute session before I cracked. Of course there have been the split training days too with 2 hours 30 in the morning and 90 minutes in the afternoon, but never have I managed some of the insane amounts of time I have been hearing about from one or two team mates on Twitter! 4 hours from Emma Trott and 5 hours by Alex Dowsett are well worthy hard nuts of the year!
Although the static training tools like Rollers or Turbo are the invention of the cycling devil, they are a brilliant way to keep the training load going during the snowy times and whilst most people complain about how bored they are, being the weirdo that I am [not quite right according to some people in Horizon Fitness Racing Team] I have learnt to deal with that boredom and only this morning did 2 hours and 45 minutes without so much as a radio/Ipod or TV to keep me entertained!
I think it might be something to do with the hours I spent plodding up and down the swimming pool, but I really don't have too much of a problem trundling through my own thoughts whilst trying to keep the cadence at 105rpm.
I've also developed a document called "Sarah's Turbo Magic" which I pass on to people who are looking for ways to fill more than an hour on the turbo. It's Magic because of the results you will get when the roads dry up and you can finally get some speed going.
Regardless of how boring the turbo is, it certainly builds fitness and strength, not to mention making you a psychological hard nut! My secret to the turbo is having a pattern of work to follow and I suppose this set up comes from my days as a swimmer. Everything is done in blocks of mainly 1-5 minutes, with the odd 10 or 15 minute interval thrown in.
So every set number of minutes I am changing gear, getting my cadence to increase or decrease and getting a different heart rate response. Having to change gear every few minutes also makes sure I am concentrating and this distracts me from the amount of time I have been pedalling.
There's not an easy way to get through a turbo session though and intrinsic motivation plays a big part, I have a very good reason for pressing the pedals and that's the racing season of 2011.
In and around these epic days of turbo training there have been two or three days each week spent at Manchester Velodrome riding with the Olympic Team Pursuit Squad. It's a big squad of about 12 to 13 riders and also quite a diverse squad too with talent coming from different areas of the programme and new recruits being tried and tested with the former World Champions of 2008 and 2009.
It's certainly been a challenge to learn the perfect techniques of the team pursuit event and whilst the people we watch on television make it look so easy, it's far from that in practice. Having said that thought the better you get at perfecting the changes, pace judgement and line around the track the easier it is to ride the event.
Like any team of people we've had all sorts of different experiences, both good and bad from these sessions. There's no greater feeling than to finish the session having nailed all the changes and kept pace with your team mates, but equally there's nothing worse than missing the back of the line, chasing back on, dropping the pace and then having to try and pick the pace back up again even though the legs are screaming to stop!
For the time being though we're fast approaching Christmas and the track sessions have finished until January 4th and it's time to tap back into an endurance block on the road, although seemingly much of that will actually be done on the turbo!
Outside of the world of cycling Barney and I have visited a children's Christmas Party at the Children's Adventure Farm Trust. This is a charity we are both involved with as patrons and alongside fellow patrons Jenny and Lee Boardman and Jason Manford, we try to help raise the profile of the charity to help raise as much money as possible. Early in December the Annual Ball raised almost £200,000 but with annual running costs of almost £1million, there is plenty of extra cash needed throughout the year. The Farm is a beautiful building in the heart of the Cheshire countryside and close to the M56 motorway.
It has a sports hall and amazing grounds with an adventure playground, chickens and other animals, as well as a big farmhouse where the offices, play areas, sensory room, and special suites for severely disabled children and bedrooms for both staff and children are.
The holidays start in February and run right through the year, after which a four week block of Christmas parties are held. Barney and I try and get to a couple of parties each year but with so much training to be done, we only managed to visit one this year. Providing holidays and parties for disadvantaged, disabled, abused and terminally ill children, the Farm is a haven of peace and quiet and safe for all its vulnerable visitors.
As well as that I have been busy with my ambassador roles for both Scottish Widows and Deloitte travelling to do a couple of events in London at the height of the first lot of snow we had in early December. There's nothing like turning up in wellies and doing a quick change before arriving on stage looking far more presentable.
With Scottish Widows I have the privilege of working with four young talented athletes and I was able to spend a morning with one of them in my role as mentor. It's always an honour to be able to pass on the things I have learned from my years in sport and give an insight into how to overcome problems which I have had a fair few of, especially during my younger days at school and University.
So with another year done and dusted and a top twenty rating in the Cycling Weekly advent calendar, I am ready and raring to get stuck into the challenges of 2011.
Happy New Year to you all.
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