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Starting your winter season knowing the performance targets and goals you want to achieve is incredibly powerful for your training, no matter how big or small they may be.
Having targets to train for will keep you focused and motivated, and most of all will give you the biggest sense of achievement when spring comes around and you’re noticing the gains you’ve made on the Wattbike, out on the road. You don’t need to set lots of goals - you may only want to set one or two but making sure they’re specific, measurable and time-bound will help keep you on track.
This week, we caught up with 13 x Ironman champion, cancer doctor and Wattbiker, Lucy Gossage, on her approach to training and her best winter training tips.
I’m definitely training for mental health as much as physical health this winter. Now that I'm retired from professional triathlon I’ve really realised how important exercise is for me to de-stress before and after challenging days in the hospital. I think this was emphasised to me during the first lockdown; without exercise I would have struggled to cope. Fresh air and exercise will always, for me, be the most powerful stress release. However, while lockdown one was encapsulated by sunshine and lengthening days that led to glorious extended bike commutes on the road, lockdown two feels far more challenging with rain, cold and the nights drawing in. Even though nobody likes an early alarm, for me it’s always worth it to get an hour of power in before work. I am a better doctor if I train before work than if I don’t.
I guess the first thing to do is to work out what you want from your season. What you really want. Not what you think you should do, or what others tell you you should do. What excites you? What challenges you? What will be enough to make morning alarms worthwhile? Find your why. By identifying your why, you’ll find the key to making the hard training and the social sacrifices that go along with that, not feel like sacrifices at all. Never do something just because you can. Do something because you really really want to.
I always found it very motivating to see improvement over time and the best way to do that is by testing yourself intermittently. Running up to an Ironman, I’d do a few key sessions that, if I nailed them, I knew would allow me to go into the race feeling confident. One of the sessions I regularly did on the Wattbike was:
15 mins warm up.
30 mins tempo (around 235 watts) with 20 sec surges every 2 mins.
10 mins easy.
4 x 5 mins above FTP (around 270 watts) with 2 mins easy in-between each one.
10 mins easy.
10 x 1 min hard (around 320 watts), 1 min easy.
It’s a tough one, but if I nailed it I knew I was ready to race!
Right now, by far my favourite weekly session is the WTRL team time trial on Zwift with my team, The Choppers*. It’s basically a 45-60 minute smashfest as a team but we can all chat to each other as we’re suffering. I never knew I’d be able to hurt and laugh so much at the same time!
(*The Choppers are far from choppers really, with some big names in triathlon on the team! But the criteria for joining the team is simply the ability to ride hard and giggle simultaneously.)
I’m a big fan of Zwift. It really can make indoor training fun. Mix it up with some group sessions, some individual workouts on the Wattbike Hub and some racing. There are so many options nowadays compared to when I first started triathlon, when the main choice of entertainment was Coach Troy on the Spinervals DVDs!
To achieve your goals this winter, why not try one of our cycling training plans.
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