Stepping into the Hurtbox: A journey into indoor cycle training

This is the first of 4 blog posts based on my experiences at Hurtbox, an indoor cycle training facility based in Southampton. The posts will be appearing on this site as well as, where the coaches and members of Hurtbox share their thoughts and experiences of cycling. athletes post up at https://hurtbox.co.uk/blog/  where the coaches and members of Hurtbox share their thoughts and experiences of cycling.

It’s always good to try something different.

If you never try, you’ll never know

For me, running is normally my prime medium of keeping fit. I love running and coaching others in running. I enjoy the feeling of moving on my own two feet, the freedom and and opportunity to free the mind. I’ve been properly into running for about 10 years now and still enjoy (nearly) every single run, whether its intervals, tempos or even just an easy long run. Although I’m not the quickest I still have had a fair bit of success and picked up plenty of PBs and trophies along the way.

I love watching cycling on the television and even have a subscription to Eurosport to watch more of it, but in terms of training it’s always come second to running.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with using the bike in different ways. I’ve used it to travel along the South Wales Coast, rode it to victory in a mini triathlon, but mainly I use my bike commuting the 15 minutes to and from work. I may have a bit of sprint to get through a set of lights or tackle a hill but I mostly been riding my bike for fun when the weather is good. I even have a turbo trainer in the house for the times I’m injured from running and its too dark and wet to ride but it rarely sees the light of day.

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to come along to HURTBOX, an Indoor Cycling Studio in Southampton, to take part in a few sessions over the next couple of months. I like to try new things, so naturally I jumped at the offer. I also thought a bit of cross training would be good to supplement my running, help build strength and flexibility in muscles that don’t always get utilised and most importantly prevent injuries! Sometimes it’s worth trying something new; it’s a great way to learn more about yourself and you never know what will happen.

HURTBOX’s motto is

Work Hard. Ride Faster

Their aim is to help cyclists get fitter and stronger through structured training however, this isn’t just a spinning class. It’s far from it and much more.

Why?

The Set Up:

You bring your own bike which means you don’t have to get used to a different position or different gearing. Not only does that mean more comfort, but every pedal stroke will be specifically improving your ability to ride your own bike.

IMG_1461
My bike set up in the KICKR and ready to go!

The Equipment:

You hook your bike up to the KICKRs. This is much more sophisticated than the turbo trainer I have at home. It’s all connected up to the computer system which tells the turbo the exact amount of resistance it needs to be giving you at any one time. When you pedal the KICKR reports back to the computer exactly what you have done so it can be displayed on the big screen TVs in front of you. All this is recorded throughout so at the end of the session you get a detailed breakdown of the workout sent to you via email or uploaded straight away to Strava or Training Peaks.

The Individualisation:

The sessions are set by a group of coaches who are passionate about giving you an enjoyable and rewarding workout. Although everyone is riding the same 60min session, its tailored to your own power levels (I had previously had an FTP-Functional Threshold Power session to use as a guide) so the resistance on the turbo is perfectly calibrated to what you need at all times, whether that’s a hard effort or a recovery.

The Motivation: 

You can have up to 10 people riding in the HURTBOX at once so there’s plenty of people to keep you on your game. The big screens help show you what you’re doing and where you need to be, and the coaches are also really hands on throughout, helping with setup and explaining the sessions. Not only that, there’s always a great playlist of hi-tempo motivational music to keep pushing you on.

I’ve had two sessions so far and not felt too tired or too sore to run the next day either which is always a bonus. More importantly, it’s also been a great learning experience. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed already:

  • The sessions are hard work but rewarding. I’ll go into the details of the different sessions in a later post, but the way the workout and the equipment is setup means you’re having to give the right amount of effort at all times. It’s almost akin to running an interval session on a treadmill. Doing the session in the studio also has the benefit of giving you something you could never replicate in the outdoors. There’s no traffic lights, junctions or other traffic here to stop you in the middle of an interval! More importantly the structure is there in the session so that you have to ride hard (and ride easy) at the right times. I’ve come out of both sessions knowing I’ve had a satisfying workout.
  • I’ve started to get used to riding in cycle shoes. I very rarely wear them when cycling outside as its a quick commute and I find it much easier to just wear a pair of trainers. When I’m clipped in, I notice that I can generate a bit more power because I’m not only able to push down on the pedal, but can feel my glutes working through the whole pedal stroke. As I’ve started to fatigue in some sessions, I’ve felt that I’ve started to utilise the more efficient pedal stroke to keep me going.
  • The amount of feedback from the system is brilliant. I’m a bit of a numbers geek when it comes to running, so I enjoy seeing the number of watts, the percent of effort, heart rate etc on the big screen in front of me. In these initial sessions this information has been really important in terms of getting a feel for effort levels. I’m sure as I get a bit more experienced over the next few weeks I’ll start getting better at intuitively knowing how I’m getting on.
  • It’s refreshing being a relative novice rather than being seen as the expert. Having support with understanding the sessions, cadence, bike set up and technique has helped me appreciate how it feels to be coached rather than being the coach.

In my next post I’ll try and go into more detail about the sessions and the different types of workouts HURTBOX offers and how I’ve got on throughout them!

 

 

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