Living here in Syracuse I’ve learned two very important things in regards to triathlon training. 1. Invest in a treadmill and 2. Invest in a bike trainer.
I admit, I’m not quite the hard core rider where I will ride when it’s 20 degrees out and cloudy. I have a cut off of 35 degrees and at that point, it really needs to be sunny. With those limitations, it’s obvious I spend most of my winter bike training on my trainer. Over the years, I have learned that there are actually many more benefits to riding indoors than being protected from the elements.
Time/efficiency of training: You can actually get more bang for your buck while riding a trainer. There’s a whole slew of pros out there who are opting for indoor vs. outdoor training. For one thing, the time to get ready is minimal, especially in the winter. No need to put on all those layers, figuring out which jacket and pants to wear, shoe covers etc. There’s also no cleanup after your ride. The roads this time of year and into the spring can really make a mess of your bike.
Obviously, riding indoors eliminates many variables that are out of your control, such as wind, stop signs, traffic etc. You get consistent conditions every time. This will also make it easier to measure the effectiveness of your training, due to no other external factors affecting your performance.
Riding on a trainer gives you 10-30% more effectiveness than riding outdoors. Say you ride 60 minutes inside. This would equate to 80-90 minutes of outdoor riding. You are working the entire time. There’s no “rest” time due to coasting and downhill riding. It gives you the opportunity to really dial-in your workouts, especially when measuring your work output through heart rate and power. It makes testing that much easier and more reliable, since your in the same conditions every time. You can focus your attention to your HR monitor or Powertap monitor to keep in your zones rather than having to be concerned with what’s going on around you.
Many of the top pros, including Andy Potts and Tyler Stewart are doing the majority of the training indoors. They will get out about once a week on the road, but the rest of the time it’s high intensity trainer riding. These workouts are also shorter. You’re taking away the down hills, coasting, etc. and are just doing work!!!
I encourage my athletes to avoid watching TV (unless it’s a Spinervals type DVD) while riding because your attention is diverted from what you should be concentrating on. Need to work on hill training? Put your front wheel on a BOSU. This puts your body in a similar position to riding up hill. It also forces you to pedal smoothly. If you don’t, you’ll start bouncing.
So instead of dreading those indoor rides, embrace them! Make the most of your rides and know the Pro’s are doing it too!!
Kristen Roe is a Level I USAT Certified Coach and Personal Trainer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org