The cold is here! It’s our first really cold day of the fall season. There may be some hardcore cyclists cycling outside; however, most cyclists are either skipping their regular training ride or pushing their workout off a day. Either way, trainer season is officially beginning! And by trainer season, we mean, training and cycling indoors.
The trainer can be a love/hate relationship. As a training aid, cyclist love it because it offers training options during poor weather and winter months. Yet, on the flip side, trainer rides can be boring, lead to muscle-specific fatigue, and basically, offer uninspired riding. Ugh. Is there a way to make it work? Yes! There is! With a mixture of planning and dose of discipline, you can motivate yourself to get in quality trainer rides. Here’s how.
Get the equipment you need
The right equipment and bike parts can make your indoor workouts less boring and more effective. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, indoor riding clothes, a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor. You might not think all of these cycling accessories add up to a great trainer workout, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Set up your environment
Aside from the actual cycling components, it’s critical to create an inviting cycling environment. Why? Well, you need an environment that limits excuses and supports your fitness goals. What do you need to inspire you? As in, do you need bright lights to keep you motivated? An upbeat playlist? Is there a time of day that works best for you? Then, schedule your trainer training time then. Your primary objective in creating a support structure is to foster an environment in which you are supported and held accountable.
Sometimes seeing is believing! Keep your motivation strong with visual effects. Pop in a DVD training video or select a few YouTube clips to get your mind in the game. Posters, a vision board, books, maps, apps, or pictures of upcoming races can trigger your motivation to not only get on the bike but maybe even dig a little deeper than you would have otherwise. Growing popular platforms make your time on the trainer more productive and entertaining. The post, Choosing the Right Indoor Cycling App, offers a list of apps and a description of how they function to help you decide which is best for you. Some of our favorites from the list include Zwift, CycleOps Virtual Training, and TrainerRoad. Try one or a few to dial in which best suits your riding style and aids with motivation.
Vary your workouts
One way to make riding indoors work is to shorten your ride and add strength training to your workouts. One way to do this is to avoid long rides on the trainer altogether. Year-round strength training for cyclists matters and substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than doing another trainer session. In fact, a one-hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer. So, plan your time on the trainer accordingly and substitute ride time for strength training time.
It may seem obvious, but scheduling workouts on the same day every week will help with consistency. By creating a repeating schedule that you know works for you you minimize the chances of missing a workout. The post, 4 Habits to Increase Your Consistency, offers more suggestions on increasing consistency, such as, being purposeful, following your plan as best as possible, and getting in shorter rides when you have less time to train.
Granted, trainer rides will never replace the joy of cycling outside. However, you can take pride in that you are getting your rides in and building your cycling base for the season ahead.