We first met James McKay at Ride London back in 2017, where we Sweat Tested him and confirmed his hunch that he was a salty sweater (losing ~1,371mg of sodium per litre of sweat v the average of about 950mg/l) and would likely benefit from incorporating some stronger electrolyte supplements into his hydration strategy.
He's been drinking PH 1500 ever since.
James rode for U23 Team TBW-Bottecchia for a few years and earlier this year his progress was rewarded with an offer to move to Northern France to ride for DN3 (Tier 3) team ASPTT Nancy.
Unfortunately, only a few weeks into his stint in France, he broke his wrist and hand during a crash in his first race and was forced into a new training routine of double-days on the turbo trainer.
We asked him to talk us through what a typical training week looked like during this period and how he fuelled his sessions...
Whilst I wouldn’t be riding on the road for two months, I was looking to build some other aspects of my fitness up over this time. Although I was bound to lose some endurance, short hard workouts would hopefully be perfect for sharpening up my top-end, high-intensity fitness.
This is how each day typically panned out:
After a breakfast of overnight oats, I prepare for the first workout of the day with plenty of coffee and a bottle of PH 1500 to ensure my electrolytes were topped up going into the session. Just before I get on the trainer, I will weigh myself and make a note of this figure.
I then complete the first ride, usually between 60-90 minutes. Over the session I aim to drink one 500ml bottle of PH1500 for every 30 minutes of riding. As I warm down, I will take on 75g of Haribo sweets to restore my glycogen stores for the next workout.
Although I would usually do this anyway, it's especially important when performing double-workout days repeatedly. Then I re-weigh myself to check how much water weight I have lost over the workout. I will then aim to replenish 1.5x what I have lost over the next few hours.
After a shower, I have a carbohydrate-focused lunch approximately 3 ½ hours before the second workout. This is usually gazpacho (a light tomato & olive oil-based soup), some rice and a few fried eggs.
After lunch I will have a nap. Then, an hour before the second workout I will have a banana to top up my fuel stores.
This is also when I fit in a core session on alternate days. Exercises like planks and Russian twists help build strength in your midsection, which is useful for power transfer efficiency on the bike and to help injury prevention.
For the second session of the day I repeat the same fuelling protocols as the morning’s workout. Dinner is the biggest meal of the day as I don’t have to worry about digesting it before another workout! I’ll have some protein like fish or chicken with rice, pasta or potatoes and plenty of vegetables.
In the evening I usually do some foam rolling and stretching. I also include a strength maintenance routine with a kettlebell before my rest days. This consists of split-squats, deadlifts and calf raises. Whilst not too long, it’s important to include in order to help preserve the strength I built in the gym over the winter.
I wind down with a hot chocolate and a good book on my kindle. Before I head to bed I have a slow-releasing casein protein shake to feed my muscles overnight.
Here's what my week typically looked like during this period of enforced indoor training...
AM: 1h35 – 5x10’ Z3
PM: 1h30 – 5x4’ Capacity efforts
AM: 1h40 – 2x20’ Sweetspot
PM: 2h – Zwift Race
AM: 1h – 40”/20“ intervals
PM: 1h20 - 2x20’ Sweetspot.
Evening: 20min Weight session
Rest day. Typically I'll do some household chores in the morning, followed by a nap after lunch and spend the afternoon reading a book.
AM: 1h – 20”/40” threshold efforts
PM: 1h30 – 4x10’ Sweetspot
AM: 1h40 – 2 sets of VO2 efforts
PM: 1h50 – 2x30’ Z3
AM: 3h – 3x16’ threshold efforts
PM: 20min Weight session
As you can see, every workout has a fair amount of structure to it. I would not recommend doing long steady rides on the turbo without something to focus on. I found the longer 20-30-minute intervals hard enough and the three-hour ride towards end the week really tested me mentally!
High intensity workouts are ideal as they give you something to focus on. However, there's a limit to the amount of intensity you can physically take. In order to create a more polarised training approach, I included a fair amount of sub-threshold intervals which are less intense but keep up my aerobic fitness whilst I'm foregoing longer 4-5 hour road rides.
Although I hope that you don't find yourself stuck indoors due to injury, if you are limited to turbo-training due to extreme weather, time commitments or injury, I hope you can find some useful takeaways from my 'diary entry'.
Remember to keep turbo work short and sweet if you can. With some good music, Zwift and plenty of coffee you can be surprised by how enjoyable indoor training can be...
We were really impressed with how James handled this setback and all that turbo training clearly had a positive impact as James was 2nd place in a team 1-2-3 at the 99km Montigny-le-Roi race, a circuit that featured a horrendous 1km climb to the finish line each lap. 💪