If you are a triathlete or cyclist and are in the northern hemisphere, you might well be training on a wind-trainer (UK: turbo-trainer) during the dark winter evenings. If so give this session a go - it’s our iconic “Red Mist” training session translated for the bike and like the swimming version it will challenge your physical and mental powers! If you can conquer it, it will take your bike fitness (and mental strength) to the next level.
To get the most from this session you really need a power meter on your bike or a power readout on your wind-trainer. You should also have a good idea of your current FTP (Functional Threshold Power).
The session is pretty simple. Only a short warm-up is needed of 5-10 minutes gradually raising your heart rate, then ride 10x 6 minute efforts with just 30 seconds recovery between each effort. YOU HAVE TO KEEP TO THE 30 SECONDS RECOVERY AND NO MORE - THAT’S A KEY PART OF THE CHALLENGE! 30 seconds is not long - just enough time to towel off and sip some water but you will definitely notice that it freshens your legs ready to go again.
On top of this you are going to ride progressively harder as you go through the set. Your target watts for each 6 minute interval are:
Intervals 5-7: 90% FTP
Intervals 8-9: 95% FTP
Intervals 10: 100-105% FTP (or simply as hard as you can go!)
Cool down with easy spinning for at least 10 minutes after.
Can you ride this set on the road? Perhaps, if you have a nice flat quiet course. However it really works best in the ultra-controlled environment of wind-training where you can simply focus on sustaining your cadence and effort.
Performing mental arithmetic becomes very hard during a work-out so calculate and write down your target watts in advance. So if your FTP is 220W then you are targeting:
Intervals 5-7: 198W
Intervals 8-9: 209W
Intervals 10: 220W+
If you’d like to see an example, here’s Swim Smooth Coach Adam Young riding this set:
You can probably already tell that this is a relentless set. It challenges your legs (and head) to not only keep going but to actually go harder, even when your legs really want to stop. One of the key gains from this session is that it proves to you both mentally and physically (the two are linked) that you can in fact go longer and harder than you might otherwise believe.
Watch out for this strange effect too: Upping the watts can actually feel easier for a short period - strange but true! Something to try the next time you are struggling in a race?
Swim (and bike) Smooth!