Turbo miles v real miles

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Legendary Member
So now me and my broken leg are mending well and are safely installed on the turbo to start notching up some miles again! I did 5 miles yesterday and was triumphant (if sweaty) at the end. And yep....turbos ARE dull, but I'm loving being back on the bike and am slowly working my way through my 6 series box set of Sex and the City, so I'm actually quite enjoying it.

I suspect I'll be locked into the turbo until April at least - or until I can safely put my leg down in an emergency. I was wondering if turbo miles are the same as real miles, not so much in distance but in terms of impact on fitness and preparation. As you know, we've got our big bike tour planned this summer and there should be no reason I can't go...but I just want to find out if 100 miles on a turbo would be the same as 100 miles on the road in terms of preparation.

I have to log off now and go back to my desk etc but thanks in advance for any info.
My tuppence worth is if done at a steady pace they are worth slightly less than road miles but if done using intervals then the same or more but of course you don't, or I don't, tend to stay on the turbo as long as the road. So generally I find the turbo good for building up and for maintaining but improving I do on the road.

Whichever you do the CV system still gets a good workout though.


nothing in moderation
not exactly scientific, but last year i did the cheshire cat sportive. i posted the 15th fastest (out of 120 odd) time. i reckon, with no false modesty, that this was down to the fact that i rode through the winter, while many "better" riders turbo trained through winter and just weren't quite at their best as a result.

so my take on it is that the turbo isn't as good for you per mile as the real thing.


Legendary Member
Hehe....I agree, BTFB.

It's good to know. I'm not doing intervals at the moment, just plodding, but it'll give me a realistic view of where I've got to in coming weeks.
How did you break your leg Cathryn?

OnT again, I don't use the turbo for miles, I use mine purely for CV workout. When I do a clubrun, my HR average tends to be around 70% of my max, this is a comfortable, ride all day pace for me.

So I sit on the turbo at 70% until I have expended my target calories...

I base my target calories on what is coming up at the weekend - say I'm doing a centuary, I will sit at 70% for 1100kcal for 3 days, then drop it to 1000kcal on thursday, 800kcal on friday and on saturday night just have a 60% spin to keep the legs fresh and moving.

p.s. i'm not on the turbo every night - every second day does the trick normally for me

Over the last year I have got to know my body, and how my kcal targets translate into how I feel on the road so that I can train how i like. I use clubruns to enjoy riding, and pep up my other bits like high HR from climbing etc.

I do do high HR turbo training too, mixed in.

rich p

ridiculous old lush
I think with interval training and the fact you can't coast, there are no downhills or stops that turbo-ing is a pretty good substitute. 45 minutes is my maximum generally due to the boredom factor but I have done longer when I drag it into the front room and watch the cricket.


Legendary Member
rich p said:
OT, Cathryn, I notice from your profile that you list as one of your interests, church shoes. I used to have a pair of Westbury's myself - what a coincidence!!:wacko:

Haha....not QUITE what I meant to say, Mr P!!! ;)

Jacomus, I was doing a bit of skiing back in January and unfortunately fell over and snapped my shin over my ski boot. Nice!! Mending well and can now put a bit of weight on my broken leg so hobble along at a decent pace. It's frustrating though...I'm learning patience :smile:

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm another half hour sesh and episode of SATC down and it's definitely a good CV workout if nothing else!


Legendary Member
N Ireland
I count the miles as the same because I up the pace on the turbo to give a similar work rate.

From the point of view of enjoyment, the turbo can't match the real thing - but needs must at times, eh!!


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester
Any riding when injured, so long as you are following Doctor's recommendations is fine - something is better than nothing. Turbo trainers aren't the same as the road - to make a turbo session worth while, they are good for intervals and battering yourself over a short time span (if say short of time) - but are just about the best thing you can do if you are recovering from an injury or illness - riding your own bike in conditions that won't agitate the injury.
Absolutely fossy - when recovering from my broken clavicle I used the turbo - because I could safely ride one armed.

A friend of mine kept going on her turbo in the late stages of her pregnancy - she loved the exercise, and if she got tired all of a sudden she was in her living room instead of halfway up a hill 40km from home.


New Member
Beside the road
I always used to find that the Tacx I-magic would just turn my legs to jelly after an hour or so; making anything over 20miles a tough challenge. Yet 20 miles (unless at TT pace) certainly isn't a problem out on the road.

I always put it down to the fact I pour with sweat while on the turbo and I never get chance to freewheel / ease off.
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