How to Use your Garmin to ride sessions set by your Coach – Part 2

So, you’ve downloaded a session from TrainingPeaks (TP) and now your all kitted up and ready to ride. You need to find and start the session.

Turn on your Garmin and you will see this standard screen, click on the Training icon as indicated.

Then select Workouts, you will have a screen which will show you a list of workouts that are currently live on your device. Select the one you want and then press ride.

Once you select ride the session will show on your screen and the time will start counting down so ensure you really are ready to do the session – atleast get moving off the drive!

The text at the top will tell you what power or heartrate is required for each interval, what you are actually achieving is indicated in larger print and also on the coloured bar. Try to keep in the green. The Grey graph shows you what is coming next and the figure at the bottom tells you how much time you have left in each interval.

If you finish a session but are still some distance from home just leave the Garmin alone and it will keep recording – chill out and listen to the birds.

When you get home the session will automatically upload to Garmin Connect, TrainingPeaks and Strava (if you have set it to do so)

Any questions or problems get in touch

How to use your Garmin to ride sessions set by your coach – part 1

Some people are great with technology whilst others find Garmin (or similar devices) mind frazzling. So I have decided to do 2 posts on how to use your Garmin with TrainingPeaks to run sessions that your coach has prescribed.

Part 1 – downloading the session from TrainingPeaks onto your Garmin

Firstly open TrainingPeaks (TP) on your computer and plug in your Garmin to the usb drive. The Garmin will now work much like any external pen drive etc.

Open the session that you wish to download and click on the export file bucket.

You will be given various choices of file to download – select the one recommended for your device or even Zwift.

Your computer will ask you what you want to do with the file (how it does this varies depending on your browser), you want to save it to your garmin. My computer does this by asking me to ‘save as’ and I then select Garmin/ workouts as below. Save it as a workout and your done – it will be on your Garmin.

Tip of the week: clear all workouts off your Garmin every week to avoid confusion over which session to do. Sometimes sessions have a very similar title but are slightly different in content. You can always download them from TP when you want them.

Any questions just ask.

See Part 2 to learn how to use the session on your device

Tyres, tubes and navigation

I’d planned a solid trainingblock of steady endurance rides over the Christmas/new year break but unfortunately this had to be curtailed due to my asthma however by keeping to flattish routes I was still able to do 20-30 miles every day (including Christmas day!) and thankfully my fitness stayed level. Finally on Monday I was well enough to start training properly again and was really looking forward to getting some intensity back into the sessions and to get back on the turbo. But then I came down with a cold – probably due to my immunity being lowered following the asthma issue. I followed my coaches advice and took a day off – no running or gym work either. During this period I’d had issues with my front tyre – it kept going soft. I’d checked the tyre and couldn’t find anything, changed the tube twice. I’d been checking it over the past few days and it seemed to be holding pressure.

Today I had planned a nice flattish 2hr ride with a friend, plotted a route, checked tyres again – all seemed fine so we set off.

Said friend has a reputation for her lack of navigational skills (we will come back to this). Thankfully it was dry and mild, we had a nice ride in an area that I knew but my friend didn’t. Stopped for a cuppa and cake before heading home. All was well – cold wasn’t too bad and asthma didn’t recur.

Then – 5 miles from home and just before the turn off I noticed my front tyre was soft. We stopped, and decided to pump it up a bit and see how it went. 2 miles further and it went soft again. We stopped and decided to put a new inner tube in, the tyre was a nightmare to get off but eventually we succeeded but when putting the tube in it got caught so we took both the tube and tyre off and started again. I normally am able to get tyres back on by hand without using tyre levers but this one as being difficult. Eventually said friend inserted a tyre lever – and punctured the tube! Start again we thought – only the other spare tube that we had was too big.

We came up with a plan – I would wait with my bike whilst my friend road back to my house and return with her car so that I could then put my bike in it. Now remember what I said earlier about her lack of local knowledge and poor navigational skills? She had 3 miles, 1 right turn, 1 left at the cross roads and then a straight over at the junction to get to my house.

She took the right turn but didn’t go as far as the crossroads! thankfully she turned left into a village that she knew and was able to make her way back although on a longer route. She’s a strong rider and apparently used this part of the ride as a hard interval – there are 3 strava segments along it all of which she got PB’s on!

Eventually I got home, changed the tube and tyre – lets hope it holds this time.

Nice ride though and I was so glad to have a friend with me but next time I shall be taking 2 tubes and 3 co2 cylinders and she’s planning the route!

Coughs and sneezes (and all those other nasties)

It’s that time of year again – loads of nasty bugs around that get in the way of training. Training with a cold is unpleasant – a runny nose is just unmanageable on the bike, but its not something that has to be stopped completely. I work on the principle that as long as I’m not coughing and wheezing its ok to train but keep it short and light. I often feel better for some fresh air.

During the winter I try to increase my intake of vitamins and minerals – a regular multivitamin often provides the boast I need. This seems to help prevent me getting nasty colds that hang around for days or weeks! I have a daily smoothie too crammed full of fruit and veg – my favourite being almond milk with Spinach, banana, dates, protein powder with added minerals and super foods, and a dollop of almond butter. Loads of protein and vitamins!

Stomach bugs are worse though – there is no way you can train and they knock the stuffing out of you for a few days afterwards. The way I deal with them is by trying to keep hydrated with anything that has a decent flavour and ideally added vitamins. There is nothing else you can do. When you feel up to returning to training keep it light for a few days and do not expect to be able to kick out your normal watts.

Keep well and listen to your bodies!

#cyclingnutrition #cyclingillness #wintercycling


After last weeks dreary riding weather I decided that I needed some new Hi-Viz cycling gear – especially on the dark morning commutes.

At this time of year I generally wear a Castelli perfetto jacket and vary the base layer depending on how cold it is. I have found the choices of colours rather drab though, so I have bought a fleecy gilet in Hi-Viz yellow with the plan of wearing it over either a long sleeved winter top or my perfetto. It isn’t wind or water proof though but it is nice and cosy.

I wear a Kask helmet for training and general riding, I love the fit but unfortunately they don’t do one in Hi-Viz. Luckily though I won a helmet last week – and chose the Hi-Viz option. Its a Bontrager Specter WaveCel.

So for todays ride I was decked out in Hi-Viz. I was lovely and warm. The helmet was great – it has a boa at the back rather than a ratchet which made it really comfortable. I think it may have become my favourite!

#Bontragerwavecel #Castelli #Trekbikes #Kask #justmeandmybike

A commute!

I get a strange kind of enjoyment from training on my turbo – I like the control and repeatability of session. I also love riding my rollers. It seems that my 5-year-old grandson has inherited my masochistic tendencies!

During the winter this does hold me in good stead as I spend several hours a week training indoors, but this year it seems that winter has started early! The roads have been so wet I’ve even had to get my winter boots out!

Today as a change from indoor training I had scheduled a commute. Thankfully when I woke I couldn’t hear rain or the hiss of car tyres on wet roads so I got my kit on and set off for work.  Within 100 yards I heard sirens and pulled over to let 2 police cars go past. The first 2 miles on country lanes were ok but then I spotted blue lights on the top of the hill, roads had been closed and traffic was at a standstill. Having negotiated the accident I continued along the lanes but now accompanied by lots of traffic, all trying to avoid the road closure. Several floods, mud and leaves made the lanes messy and slippery. Even the best bit of the ride – a lovely descent, had to be taken with care, not my usual 30 mph descent. Thank goodness I did take it easy though as there was a massive flood at the bottom where water had run off the fields. Further on I got stopped at a level crossing – for 3 trains!!! And the heavens opened! Finally I arrived at work – it was only 15 miles but it felt like I’d ridden the Paris-Roubaix. Boy was it character building but I enjoyed it! Looking forward to next Friday’s commute but I guess in the meantime its back to the turbo and rollers.

Mud Mud Glorious Mud!

I love living in the country side with easy access to quiet county lanes, the ever changing landscape and the frequent sighting of birds of prey, foxes, hares etc. The problem is that this this time of year those same lanes become a mud fest! If I wanted to do a bit of cyclocross then I would have taken the right bike and headed off road but today I was doing an endurance road session on my road bike.

They weren’t kidding!

It went on and on, covering the entire road! Then add in falling leaves and cattle grids and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Fortunately I survived without mishap but others won’t be so lucky.

Home now with a warm cuppa and some peanut butter toast, all kit in the washing  machine, cycling boots cleaned and my bike is drying off after the first stage of its clean – I think it will probably need 3 washes!

Ahhhh Stretching!

I’m sitting here watching the rugby with aching legs from yesterdays 5 mile run in wales (2 miles up, 2 down and only 1 one the flat). It has reminded me that I need to do more stretching.

When cycling, and in particular road cycling our body is in a pretty fixed position which causes stress on our neck, middle back, hips, and lower extremity muscles, causing them to become shortened, painful and to lose their ability to produce power – something we really don’t want! So, do yourself a favour and  spend a few minutes stretching your legs out after you beat them up—your body will thank you, and it will give you some precious time to think about life (i.e. more cycling) for a while.

  1. The ideal time to stretch statically is POST WORKOUT. It has been found that static stretching actually impairs lower limb force production, which is obviously not ideal before a ride.
  2. Stretches need to be held for a minimum of 30 seconds. It takes your muscle tissue time to relax enough to make static stretching beneficial and allow the muscle to lengthen.
  3. Stretches should be comfortable – not painful!
  4. Alternate each side with each consecutive stretch so as one side is resting the other is being stretched.
  5. Perform each stretch 2 – 3 times each

The ‘Couch’ Stretch

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Set up in front of a couch/chair/bench with one foot on the couch behind you and the opposite knee on the floor (put a rolled towel under your knee for comfort if needed). Bring your hips forward and lean your body back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your hip and thigh. Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

Hamstring and Chest Stretch

Bring your feet wider than shoulder width apart and lace your fingers behind your back. Then, lean your body forward and reach your arms backward until a comfortable stretch is felt in the hamstrings, as well as chest/front of the shoulders.

Inner Thigh and Mid Back Stretch

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From a sitting position, bend your knees, place your feet together, and let your legs fall out to the side until a comfortable stretch is felt in your inner thighs. While holding this position, lace your fingers together, bring your arms up, then reach forward trying to open your shoulder blades, and drop your head down until a comfortable stretch is felt in between the shoulder blades and the back of your neck.

The Pigeon Pose (my favourite)

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Start off on all fours, thread one leg under you and then sit back until a deep stretch is felt in the glutes. Lower your body and head for a deeper stretch or raise to stretch your abs.

Here’s to more power!

#phoenixcyclecoach #cycliststretches

A weekend in Wales

Balancing a job, family time and training can be difficult. Having a supportive partner and family is essential if you are going to achieve your goals. I’m very fortunate – my husband is a coach and cyclist himself and I couldn’t do what I do without him. It also helps that my family are all into sport and fitness in some way. Last weekend we set off for some family time with our daughter, her husband and their 2 small children in Wales. We decided that as the weather forecast was terrible we would leave the bikes at home but take running kit. Here are a few thoughts from the weekend:

Take time to enjoy the wildlife (birds of prey in this case) and scenery – but take care not to trip over whilst you do. If the worst happens, pick yourself up, wash your cuts and bruises in a freezing mountain stream and get on with the training session.

Hills (there are lots in wales) – treat them as intervals, don’t let them dominate your session, they are only a short part of it. Hills make you stronger. If you don’t make it to the top the first time, recover whilst you walk back down and then do it again, break it down into small chunks, keep your rhythm and celebrate reaching the top.

If your route is blocked find another one.  There is always a way to get to your goal. There will be times when you have to be flexible – change the route, swap sessions to something that fits in better etc. but whatever happens keep moving forward.

Take time out – there is nothing wrong with snuggling down with a duvet in front of the fire, watching cartoons and eating a totally unsuitable breakfast with a 5 yearold.

Today I was back out on the bike in glorious sunshine, saw a fabulous red fox and a buzzard, whilst the washing machine is doing its best to clean muddy kit!

#wales #redkites #training

Boring base training – why?

Base Training

Traditional base training that takes place over the winter months is based around increasing time on the bike and working at lower than normal intensity.  This is difficult for those of us who have a full-time job, a family and live in a country where its dark when you get home from work! Not to mention the cold!

So instead of training for 12-20 hours per week for 2-3 months, a well-structured program of short, high-intensity intervals works just as well.  It means different paths allow different people to achieve similar goals. For those cyclists in the real world wanting to improve their performance here are some ideas on how to build a bigger and more powerful aerobic engine.

Don’t ride only low-intensity rides

Aerobic base training is designed so that by accumulating a large volume of work at a low intensity will result in increased capillary density which in turn allows a higher volume of oxygenated blood into muscles, and to increase your mitochondrial density which means that your capacity to break down carbohydrate and fat into usable energy more quickly is improved.  By processing more fat and carbohydrate per minute through mitochondria we increase our maximum sustainable power or pace. It also means you can operate at a lower percentage of your VO2 max at your “all day” pace, which may help you rely on a higher percentage of fat for energy and conserve stored carbohydrate. Great – we all want that BUT……

It only works because increased training volume (12-20 hours/week) contributes to greater total workload or greater focused workload, despite reduced intensity.

However, when training volume is held basically constant by an athlete’s training availability,( i.e. the amount of time we can squeeze into our schedules) reducing intensity by spending the same number of hours at a lower power output than they are already habituated to only results in reduced workload, and therefore reduced training effects.

Structure is great

All athletes will benefit from a break from structured interval workouts. A period of reduced structure is great, but it doesn’t need to be eight to 12 weeks long!

You need the intensity to maintain the workload necessary to retain fitness. Could you attain this intensity through harder, yet still unstructured, endurance rides? Yes, but structure helps most time-crunched athletes accomplish the goals of training more efficiently.

Don’t Starve Yourself

Many athletes look to base training to strip away several pounds of weight gained so they combine endurance training with calorie restriction to create an even bigger energy deficit. The rationale is that you need energy to perform hard intervals, but you don’t need a lot of energy to ride easy, so a period of reduced intensity is a good time to double down on calorie restriction. Wrong!!!!

Adequate energy intake is essential for positive adaptation to exercise stress. Inadequate energy intake diminishes the work you can do during rides, recovery between exercise sessions, and immune system functionality (during cold and flu season, no less). The quality of your training hours still matters more than the caloric deficit, even during a period of more generalized endurance training.


Incorporate interval training 2-3 times per week

The science is well established that short, high-intensity intervals can increase mitochondrial density (your capacity to break down carbohydrate and fat into usable energy).  It will also add sustainable power output in a fraction of the time it takes to do so with a high volume of low-intensity exercise. Researchers have shown that these same short, high-intensity intervals improve oxidation of fat and carbohydrate by mitochondria to a similar degree as traditional, lower-intensity endurance training, but in a fraction of the training time. Practically what this means is that by working at the highest end of the intensity spectrum you can improve performance at all intensity levels below that, making it a very effective use of your limited training time. Similarly, lactate threshold workouts improve power at threshold and improve power for endurance intensities, too.

Ride long-ish once a week

A normal training schedule consists of three interval workouts per week and one 2-4+ hour endurance ride over the winter. For athletes who can ride both days of the weekend, this often translates to Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday, with Sunday being the long ride. This way there is a recovery or rest day before each interval day, which helps improve workout quality. There’s no magical duration for a weekly long ride, but there is evidence to show a moderately experienced cyclist benefits most from endurance rides longer than two hours and shorter than 6 hours.

Endurance blocks (training camps)

A weeklong block of back to back 40-60-mile rides will really push your fitness up. It doesn’t mean travelling abroad (though the weather would definitely be better) just a dedicated week of training.

In summary, traditional base training as necessary is a disservice to the massive proportion of the cycling community that cannot fit the additional hours into their lifestyles. The proven solution that improves aerobic performance and that’s compatible with the lives of more amateur cyclists combines interval training, a long-ish weekly ride, and endurance blocks where you can fit them in.

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