Monthly Archives: January 2011

Indoor trainer tricks

Should you share your training secrets with your competitors? Maybe not, but when it comes to indoor training I figure you’ve either got the stomach for it, or you don’t. Simple training “secrets” on their own aren’t likely to make you do it. So if you’ve got the stomach for it, here are a few things I’ve found that help to make indoor training at least a bit more bearable:

Get a big fan. Or two. The bigger the better. If you can keep from creating those big pools of sweat on the floor, your perceived exertion (PE) on the trainer will be significantly lower. I think this is generally accepted as THE most important factor in being able to survive on the trainer (and is why most Spinning classes seem hard but in reality are just exercises in heat dissipation).

Use an audio/visual distraction. I find that I usually need something, either music only, or TV, or a video of some kind, to distract me from the fact that I am putting out a lot of effort to go absolutely nowhere. For longer sessions in particular, a video is essential. What kind is a whole topic in itself.

Start with a target duration. If I start out a trainer session thinking that I’ll ride until I feel like stopping, then I would last about 30 minutes. That’s the point where I us usually feel like I’ve had enough. But if I get on the trainer having already decided that I will ride 90 minutes, then I’m going to do 90 minutes. It becomes one of those psychological, “I’m not going to quite early” tricks.

Vary the workout. Rather obvious, but I’ve talked to people who do the same workout every time they get on the trainer. I’d go crazy if I got on and “just rode” every time. Different ideas for trainer workouts is also a whole topic in itself. Lots of good ideas floating out there on the Internet.

Break it into intervals. Personally, I cannot get on the trainer and ride for one, long duration. That feels like torture to me. I have to break it into smaller intervals. There are a bunch of different ways to do this. Normally I will take the big duration and break it into “macro” chunks. E.g., a 30 minute warm up, then two 20 min efforts with 10 min recovery in between, then 10 min cool down. So I’m always thinking only about completing the next chunk. Within that bigger chunk, I will break it down further into a “micro” chunk, usually 5 minutes, where I stand for the last minute. I figure I can always get through 5 minutes of riding.

Nothing revolutionary in any of this, and I’m sure everyone has their own methods. What’s interesting to me is that when I look at all the tricks I use, with the exception of using a fan they are all psychological. Which tells me that riding the indoor trainer is inherently psychotic.



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Like Groundhog Day

You need to have a thick skin when you choose to live in northeast Ohio. Not only do you have to endure jokes about burning rivers and mediocre sports teams, there is this minor issue called “weather”.

I’ve generally tried to follow the “making lemonade” approach to winter here. Get the right gear to be able to ride outside when possible. Build up running capability in the fall, so I could run outside when it gets crappy. When it snows a lot, go snowboarding (when my kids were young, I learned to snowboard along with them).

This year seems different. I can’t remember a winter that has seemed so long. How long? Usually I can tell you how many days it’s been since I last rode outside. People at work always ask, “are you still riding?” And usually I can say, “yeah, I rode outside 2 Thursdays ago.” Normally the stretches of crappy weather are at least broken by a few days where it’s dried up enough to be outside riding. That doesn’t seem to be happening. We’ve had one long, unbroken stretch of too-cold-and/or-too-wet-to-ride conditions.

Right now, I’ve lost track of the last time I rode outside. All I know is that I’ve watched 4 full seasons of 30 Rock while sitting on the trainer. Had I been able to watch interactive German language videos, my German would back up to “reasonably fluent”.

Running outside? Nagging IT band soreness has kept me from doing that.

I think it’s been a month since the sun came out.

My daily routine has been the same: go to work, come home and get on the trainer, scoop the cat’s litter box, shower, eat, make a lunch to take to work. Drink a glass of wine and read email. Go to bed. Repeat next day.

It’s like Groundhog Day.

Don’t be surprised if you see me in a pickup truck with a groundhog behind the wheel.


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