Mixing and Messing: Combining Hurtbox with run training & trying out the new MESS session

This is the third of 4 blog posts based on my experiences at Hurtbox, an indoor cycle training facility based in Southampton. You can view Part 1 & Part 2 here, as well as at https://hurtbox.co.uk/blog/

A mix of order and chaos in this post. After a number of sessions at Hurtbox it’s time to share my experiences getting the right balance between my running training alongside the cycle sessions. As for the chaos, stick around and you’ll get my review of the newest Hurtbox session.

When I first started the Hurtbox sessions my first consideration was the choosing the best day to train at the studio. For the past few months I’ve been running 6 days a week so I decided that I’d ride on my running ‘rest’ day. Normally this would be a Friday but as I couldn’t get to Hurtbox on that day I chose Monday instead.

Why Monday? My first reason was it got the session out of the way early: once it was done I could concentrate on running for the rest of the week as this is normally my main focus.

Another factor in choosing Monday was due to having a block of fortnightly races on Sundays. My thinking was that Monday would be an easy/recovery day on the run so replacing that with a cycling session would be good for cross training purposes as well as being far enough away from Wednesday that I wouldn’t be too fatigued going into the midweek race.  The drawback with this choice was that sometimes I’d be a little fatigued coming into the Hurtbox session and find it tougher than perhaps it may have been. As I’ve become more accustomed to the cycle sessions I think I’ve begun to manage this better and as a result my performances have improved.

Over the past few months I’ve normally followed a hard session with an easier run the following day, into a hard session on the third day. Therefore once Hurtbox was slotted into my training plan I knew that my running week would need a reshuffling. To avoid 2 hard days in a row and compromising the quality of the running workout I’d move back a session from Tuesday to Wednesday. On the occasion when I did try to run a hard workout the following day I had mixed results. The hills sprints I ran post a DATUM session seemed to go really well, whilst I struggled keeping the pace in the second half of a track session the day after a Rollercoaster effort.

Sometimes I’ve adapted my running sessions to help complement the rides I’ve participated in at Hurtbox so that I was getting a good balance of stimulus in my training. If you haven’t already its worth watching the ‘Training with Power’ webinar the guys posted up a few weeks ago where they talked about the different types of sessions at Hurtbox and their desired training effect. Using this information as well as my own ‘feel’ for how the sessions were challenging me I adapted the running sessions I performed during the week. For example, after a Red Line or Legs of Steel workout (which have a steady/tempo emphasis on them) I tried to include some shorter VO2 Max intervals in my run training during the week. I’ve also had to adjust the volume and intensity of my running training, cutting down a few miles and adjusting the length of workouts to take into account the extra intensity added by Hurtbox.

It’s been a fine art getting the balance right between the cycle session and my running training which has really made me listen to my body a little more and understand not only what works or doesn’t work but why.

MESS: Max Effort Sprint Session


So from order we turn to some messiness in the form of Hurtbox’s newest session: MESS

I was ‘lucky’ enough to get the second outing of this new workout combining VO2 Max efforts with some short, sharp 15 second sprints designed to recruit muscle fibres to build strength and improve form. Think Cavendish in his final sprint to the line or Chris Froome spinning it up on the crest of a mountain.

With a few changes to my week I was dropping into this one during an early morning timeslot. I was a little concerned about my body riding hard that early in the day as I’m normally only used to an occasional short run at a very relaxed pace at that time. However a good quality warm up to the session plus a little fuel, hydration and a touch of caffeine meant my legs were ticking over well during the 2:30 min blocks of effort.

During these intervals of anywhere between 90-108%, there were 9 hard spikes ranging between 140 and 160% which really challenged the legs. The key to these sprints is to keep the cadence high going into them so that you can produce enough power to hit those high numbers. By the end of these ‘form attacks’ you really wanted to let the legs recover but for many of them the spike was followed by another minute of hard effort riding. I couldn’t help a chuckle when your ‘recovery’ is at @ 100% of your FTP.

The really tough sprint set started off with 60 seconds at 95% followed by one surge of 150%, back down to ‘just’ 100% for a minute, finishing up with an all out sprint at 170%. Holding a hard pace after the first sprint messed with the legs so it required strong mental focus to keep the cadence high and picking it back up again to finish. Whilst the mind wanted to push again the legs sometimes didn’t want to play ball, forcing me to almost come to a complete standstill by the end of the sprint.

It was fun getting a chance to have a go at these Max effort sprints; I can see the physical benefits of improved strength and power as well as mental strength these will bring to all those down at the cycle studio in the coming weeks!

In my final Hurtbox post I’ll be talking about how the cycle sessions have benefited my running training and general fitness. I’m also hoping to be able to share with you my experiences doing one of those dreaded FTP tests!




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