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Indoor Training | Imogen Cotter

IMOGEN COTTER ON INDOOR TRAINING

 

With global lockdowns forcing cycling and cyclists to explore new avenues, we reached out to Imogen Cotter for her tips and take on how to get the most out of training indoors.

The Coronavirus and the knock on effects it's had for riders around the world have been pretty huge. As a sport, cycling transports people, so, isn't an ideal fit with restrictions on movement or gatherings. I think it is great how the cycling community has adapted so quickly to the guidelines put in place.

Whilst it certainly wasn’t easy to begin with, you have to get on with it. I’m in Ireland at the moment where we are only allowed to exercise within a 2km radius. I have been inside on my turbo for all of my training for almost a month now, but I haven’t been finding it hard.

We're all in this together, and I’ve seen friends and other athletes organising meet-ups on Zwift, Sufferfest, and other virtual platforms, having video calls while training, and coming together whilst observing socially distancing. Personally, I've ridden with team mates I won't often see from race to race, which has been brilliant. In my opinion, people are seeing how beneficial, and in some ways sociable indoor training can be.

I think people are also realising that there are some unique demands to indoor training that can make it tougher and more targeted than longer outdoor rides. If you are still trying to get your endurance blocks done on the turbo, drop the intensity slightly – when training indoors you literally do not stop pedalling, so your body is putting in more work than normal.

One thing I'd recommend is having a good pair of bib shorts to train inside is essential - there's a lot less movement when you are inside on the turbo, so it is important to make sure you are really comfortable in what you have on.


The Le Col x Wahoo Indoor Training kit has become my go-to for tough indoor sessions or races. I never thought that there could be a lot of difference between normal training bibs and indoor training bibs, but the mesh panels on the shorts and the super-light jersey definitely make a difference when you are on your limit.

A lot in e-racing racing comes down to marginal gains, things like arriving to the starting pen early, having adequate airflow, hydrating. Having light and breathable kit is definitely very high up there for me in terms of priorities when training indoors. I also wore my warm-up jersey out on the road before the restrictions were put in place by our government and it’s a great layer for spring riding.

My other tips would be to get some headphones and find something you like to listen to (Netflix, music or a podcast) and keep yourself distracted when it's simply about tempo rides. Join events if you find it hard to go alone – there are often easy endurance rides going.

If you find yourself lacking motivation, try joining races! Zwift always has one you can join - they’re hard but so good for improving fitness. I am riding on a Wahoo Kickr, with a Wahoo Climb with a Wahoo Headwind, so I know my setup will not let me down!

E-racing though is so different to traditional road racing. Firstly, it's a safe space for lots of people to start racing - you're not going to crash, and you can get a taste for how tough it is. It’s also a lot shorter and a lot more intense than typical road races.

It's not just about putting out big numbers - there is actually a different set of skills to it. The person who puts out the most power won’t always win! The start is quite intense, and your first 10 minutes are really a huge effort to just get out fast and get in to a good group.

When I first started out e-racing, I would just go and ride as hard as I could, but when I started to look into it a bit more, I saw aspects where I could definitely improve, save some watts and recover. It offers the same progress and development markers that make racing and training outdoors so addictive.  

 

I don’t see e-racing completely taking over from road racing, but I think it is a really exciting new chapter for bike racing. It is going to be really important over these next few months, as we try to get back to normal.

It is great to see companies investing in e-racing teams. I think it gives us a chance to compete against professionals, which we wouldn’t usually get to do. It’s been a really great outlet for me at the moment, as I am quite competitive. Without e-racing, I would be going a bit crazy now!


Outside of racing, the turbo trainer is just great for longer sweet spot efforts. They’re my favourite, and the longer the better. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone though, so I’m trying to get a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Over and under FTP work is always a killer, but after I do it I always feel a lot of benefits and I also feel proud of the session! I did a real killer one last month, 15 min blocks as 2 min at 275w, 1 min at 150w. After two of those blocks I had to lie on the floor when I finished!


Though the quarantine has been a real eye opener for many people on the benefits of indoor training, once the rules have been lifted, I'm looking foward to getting back to Belgium - not only to see my boyfriend and our adorable dog, Blue, but to get out for a bike ride, stop at our favourite cafe and grab some coffee and cake after a long day on the pedals. I can’t wait for that!

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Thanks to Imogen for talking to us. You can currently follow her as she races for the Wahoo Le Col E-Sports Team but also through her own Instagram account.