Triathlon champ and cancer doctor , Lucy Gossage doesn’t have a lot of spare time on her hands. Luckily, we’ve managed to secure five minutes of it every month to talk training, triathlons and triumphs.
I like hills. Not much makes me happier than a day on my bike in the mountains and having the Peaks on my doorstep is a definite bonus from living in Nottingham. With Norseman (an extreme triathlon based in Norway) coming up in a few weeks, I’ve loved having a reason to get in some long rides around the Peak District. It’s my happy place, and I know I will always feel good about life after riding there.
However, you don’t need to live near the hills to get good at hills. One of my favourite sessions on the Wattbike, and one I probably do every couple of weeks, is an over-geared strength session. I vary it a bit week by week, but in general I’ll incorporate an hour of effort, broken, at a cadence of 50-60, working at around 85-90% FTP.
An example might be 10 x 6 min with 1 minute recovery, alternating each block between cadence 50 at 220w and cadence 60 at 230w. An alternative might be 4 x 15 minutes with a 5-minute recovery, starting at cadence of 50 for 5 mins, then 55, then 60. Including a warm-up and cool down, this session will generally take 90 minutes so it’s a good one to get done before work.
So why do I like it? Firstly, I think it builds strength. Both leg and glute strength, which is needed to pedal hard at a normal cadence, but also core stability, particularly if you focus on engaging your core and a smooth pedalling technique. Doing this session in my TT position helps get me more comfortable and powerful for longer rides, while doing it sitting up makes me more powerful for the climbs.
Secondly, it doesn’t take much mental power, so is a good session to do when you perhaps might not have the motivation to push yourself hard enough for a more aerobically challenging session. Much like riding in the hills, you don’t have to think about riding hard - just focus on simply turning the pedals.
And thirdly, it goes surprisingly quickly. Particularly if you break it up by varying the power and cadence and focus on a smooth pedal stroke and stable upper body.
I’m a bit of a grinder when it comes to cycling. Generally, my average cadence during an Ironman is only around 72. If you tend to spin at a much higher cadence, then you may need to adjust the cadence range accordingly. And if you’re not used to over-geared training be fairly cautious as you start, allowing your tendons and muscles time to adapt to a new strain.
Obviously, given the choice, I’d take my bike to the Peaks every day. But between work, competing and personal life, that’s not realistic. But over the years, I’ve found this is a good ‘go-to’ session when you don’t have tonnes of time and want to get a decent amount of work done with minimal mental stress. Have a go and let me know how you get on….