[Last season, Joshua Goyet's excellent "Tour de Garage" series provided some fresh workouts and added motivation to many cyclists' winter training routines. This installment of "Not like a wussy" keeps the focus on the indoor training ride, where the principal wussy-like offense is simply staying off the trainer altogether, and waiting for the chance to get outdoors.]
How to not ride an indoor trainer like a wussy
by Joshua Goyet, Virginia Beach Wheelmen
As the weather turns bleak, and the cyclocross season winding down, it becomes tougher and tougher to force yourself to ride outdoors. The back up plan is usually endless miles on an indoor trainer.
There are many ways to accomplish the goals of off-season fitness on a trainer, none of which require monotonous miles after miles after miles. This type of indoor training is sure to have a negative affect on mind and will likely kill any motivation you may have had. Here are a few pointers:
- Break your workout into smaller time intervals. It is much easier for your body to accept the fact that you have a 5-minute interval to complete rather than focusing on an hour and half ride. You would be surprised how quickly the time goes by. Start with a 10-minute warm up. Next perform 3 sets of 1-minute, 1-legged efforts. Next perform 5 sets of 2-minute threshold efforts with 2-minutes rest in between. Next perform 3 sets of 5-minute threshold efforts with 2 minutes rest in between. Finally finish with a 10-minute warm down. This example will take you at least on hour and 10 minutes and you never have to focus on more then 5 minutes at a time (except for the warm-up and warm-down).
- Ride with a group. Just like riding outdoors, groups make you do the workout. Your motivation level will be high and the time will fly by. Also with groups you can challenge each other. A good workout is to use a Round-Robin style format. Decide the limitations of workout (HR max, power outputs, gearing, etc…) and let each rider challenge the others by coming up with an interval segment that matches the limitations set. This will allow everyone to be involved and push the group. Its just like leading the pace line.
- Break the workout into segments. There is no need to get stuck with one indoor workout. Develop “interval segments”. These segments should focus on specific goals. We could use the example from above. The one-legged intervals are one segment, the 2-minute intervals are another segment, and the 5-minute intervals are the third segment. If you develop enough of these segments, you can always put together a good workout by putting these segments together. Each workout should consist of 2 to 5 segments depending on their length.
- Focus on something other than time. Heart rate and power output is great for this. Sometimes you need to use the trainer for base miles. If this is the case you should still break down your intervals. During these longer, base building intervals I focus on my heart rate. I let my heart rate get up to 150 then attempt to keep it there for the duration of the interval. Another trick for these long rides is let your interval time decrease throughout the workout. So if you start with a 20-minute interval with a 2-minute rest your next interval should be 15 minutes. Then you can do a 12-minute effort followed by a 10-minute one. As you count down you began to look forward to the next shorter one and before you know it you just did 2 hours on the trainer.
- Don’t be afraid to get off the bike. Whether or not you have a home gym, you can make these workouts part of a bigger workout. Incorporate some strength work, like body weight squats, push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. Be creative and don’t focus as much on bike time, focus on workout time.
Along with these pointers, most people also find it useful to listen to music, watch TV or maybe even read a book. Those are good distractions that can help you push out the miles on some of those long days. Whatever you do and however you do it is important to do it in a manner that will not burn you out before the start of the season.