NJINGA

Neil Roberts

From junk miles to smart training - How rehab and now regular training at Njinga has improved Neil's triathlon performances

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES WITH NJINGA

FTP Improvement: 11 watt increase in just 5 months

Offered a GB age group team place for the world championships in Australia with a Sprint triathlon time of 1 hour and 16 minutes in 2018.

Richmond Park Lap Improvement: 2 minutes 30 seconds in first year at Njinga

Improved triathlon cycle from 26km/hour for 40km to 32km/hour for 90km

WHERE MY JOURNEY BEGAN:

I am now 46 and have been training with Njinga since April 2017. I am not a “pure” cyclist – I am a recent (2011) recruit to multisports duathlon and triathlon.

For 7 years prior to April 2017 I cycled almost daily from Kingston to Central London as a commute. I thought this was great bike training as I was spending 5-10 hours a week cycling and thought that was all I needed to do to keep fit and get fitter (how wrong I was….).

I had seen the Njinga lab when I drove past it but I didn't really realise what it did – I just thought it was a spin type place for proper cyclists.

In April 2017 I was knocked off my bike in central London which resulted in a broken left wrist and torn right shoulder. I had surgery on my wrist and knew I would be unable to cycle for 2-3 months at least and the thought of getting on a bike on the road again made me feel sick.

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MY REHAB AT NJINGA

I walked past Njinga and decided to pop in and find out about what was on offer and whether I would be able to attend the classes with a wrist in plaster in a sling. The Njinga team were all super friendly and it looked like what they did was just what I needed.

They set me up on the wattbike and I attended lots of classes in the next 2-3 months. My mistake was not doing an FTP test to set accurate zones right from the start so if I was advising someone new to Njinga that's my first bit of advice – do a test early and don't worry about what it shows – it will just help you train smart.

Back in April 2017, after years of commuter cycling I was pushing out 150 watts with a heart rate of 150-160, and it felt like hard work. It was almost miraculous that I felt better and better after each class, the power was higher and the heart rate the same - I could feel I was getting fitter and fitter every week.

FITNESS IMPROVEMENTS

By September 2017 I did my first FTP test and got a score of 209 watts – which is way better than I could have achieved in April 2017. I stuck to my training zones and by January 2018, after 2 more operations, my FTP had gone up to 220 watts. Now I can ride at 210 watts with a heart rate of 150 and it feels sustainable.

I realised by then I was fitter than I ever had been in terms of bike training.

After my accident, even though I do triathlon, I just couldn't face cycling in traffic so the only outdoor cycling I do is laps of Richmond park when the traffic is quiet – so all my bike training now is with Njinga and has been for the last year and a half.

I started multisports in 2011 with the Richmond park duathlon. Back then I was doing a lap of the park in 25 minutes and thought that was good. After years of commuting on my bike in early 2017 I could do around 22 minutes.

After a year of Njinga I was down to 19 and a half minutes for a park lap and I know I will keep getting quicker.

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IN TERMS OF TRIATHALON...

In 2015 my sprint triathlon bike split was 42 minutes for 20K. In 2018 that was down to 36 minutes – a massive 6 minute reduction which is hugely important over a sprint distance triathlon. Its very hard to find 6 minutes improvement on a 5k run or a 750m swim – in fact that's impossible. So lowering the bike split is the place where there is huge opportunity for improvement. My bike time improvement helped me achieve a sprint triathlon time of 1 hour and 16 minutes in 2018, which was good enough for me to be offered a GB age group team place for the world championships in Australia.

What’s more important is that having trained smart in the Njinga Lab – I now know where my thresholds are and what will “break me” in terms of going too hard and not being able to perform on the run part of a triathlon. Before Njinga I may have put some extra efforts in on the bike, but it could have been too much and left me feeling broken and unable to run.

WHAT NOW...

In August 2018 I moved up to half iron man distance triathlon for the first time. I managed a time of 5 hours 13 mins for the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and then half marathon. I used my Njinga training zones to stay fast but comfortable in terms of effort levels on the bike (90km @ 32km/hr) and was then able to run a 1:42 half marathon on a hot day. I felt comfortable and confident throughout the whole race.

There is no way I would have been able to do this without Njinga training (my previous best triathlon cycle was 40km at about 26km/hr).

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Why Njinga?

So after a year at Njinga I have had the best triathlon season ever, smashing my previous times and able to go up to half iron man distance without doing any significant outdoor cycling.

Njinga will continue to be a big part of my training plans – winter and summer.

I have learnt to train smart and I know every class is set up to build my endurance, but also to push me forward in terms of cycle fitness.

The whole team are friendly and there is a real feel of being involved in an Njinga community.

START YOUR OWN JOURNEY

Neil's journey with Njinga has included:

  • Regular wattbike classes
  • FTP Testing to TrainSmart

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