Liz McTernan – Training through all sorts

Liz McTernan – Training through all sorts

Release Date : 04-Jan-2016 | Name : Liz McTernan | Category : Cycling
Author : Myak Homberger


I love how Liz talks about training, she talks how I talk about training when I do it and with such funny anecdotes, it doesn’t sound like the conversation of an athlete ranked 5th in the World and a former bronze World Championship winner.

It started whilst discussing the photo-shoot for this article on the phone with her asking me whether she should clean the cow poo off her bike first; laughing and explaining that she is based in the country with all the joys it brings. Once we got into the conversations about training though, it became clear that this is one serious athlete who under the surface trains and pushes her body to the limit. She has to overcome cars splashing her in the wet, the mud, the usual countryside surprises animals leave as well as ensuring that she is visible and safe for the day and night training she does on the roads, especially whilst being so low to the ground on her handcycle.

Liz spends six days a week on the bike training on the road for 1.5 – 3 hours at a stretch, depending on the weather - as well as two sessions on the ‘turbo’ indoors, which she says is very much for speed training. The most amusing description of her gym sessions is the two that she has each week with her PT, an ex-Marine. She says (whilst laughing) that she dreads the sessions, as she puts it “he pushes me till I physically can’t do another thing.” But she keeps going back for more and this along with her newly formulated gym work is paying dividends with her winning numerous road races. As a side-line, it is sobering to know that Liz will only receive anything between £150-£300 prize money for winning a race. She needs to pay for her living, training and travel to races around the world and yet she does it all with a smile and a joke, a testament to her grit and determination.

The gym sessions for Liz focus very much on upper body strength, using heavy free weights till exhaustion, this being supplemented with some core work. Once out of the gym Liz does three cross training sessions a week of around 10km each, and these are balanced with three further swimming sessions as well. Due to funding constraints Liz has to do all her own nutrition as well as buy and cook everything herself. As she says of her nutritional/diet challenge, “I need to be as light as possible but maintain my strength so it’s about cutting fat really.”Aside from the above ‘regular weekly’ training, Liz takes on races outside of her normal ones and trains for them very separately. This year she travelled to South Africa to do a staged training event covering 557km in preparation for the Cape Argus, a 110km race that includes a 1350m climbing assent. This is not training for the faint hearted - or for that matter, events for the faint hearted - but this is what Liz thrives on. As she says, “I would like to do an Ironman”. Is it possible to train any more for an event like that? If anyone can then Liz can and will find a way to train and achieve in such a gruelling event.

Liz’s training regime is full on, especially if you include nutrition etc., but on top of this she is her own roadie, PR and sponsorship agent. I have no idea how she does it all but somehow she does do it all and does so with a smile, a joke and with grace. It crossed my mind to do a training session with her for the article, just crossed…..there is no way I would keep up with her!


  • Photo: Papaya PhotographyPhoto: Papaya Photography
  • Photo: Papaya PhotographyPhoto: Papaya Photography
  • Photo: Papaya PhotographyPhoto: Papaya Photography
“I need to be as light as possible but maintain my strength...”
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