As the seasons start to change in northeastern Ohio, it is the time of year where most triathletes and cyclist put their bikes permanently on the trainer. While we are big advocates of the trainer all year round because of safety, time effectiveness, and greater control of workouts the winter is a great time to learn to enjoy the trainer.
Here are some tips to make time on the trainer more enjoyable:
1. Have a Clear Goal for Each Workout: Many times when riding outdoors, athletes have the goal to ride '"x" amount of time. Due to terrain changes, wind and stopping and starting, this can lead to an eventful workout. However, on the trainer, this leads to boredom and dreading the trainer. Set up each trainer session to have a specific goal, whether it is to build strength, increase pedal efficiency or to build aerobic fitness. From there, take your goal and build a workout around the goal, keeping your current fitness in mind.
2. Structure Your Workouts for Success: Just like in the pool, one of our goals with trainer workouts is to keep the athlete engaged. This leads to more exciting workouts which leads to more consistency. Set up each workout with a general, aerobic warm-up of 10 to 20 minutes to get blood flowing and warm up the muscles. Short bursts of speed work and drills such as high cadence and single leg work also help to prime the athlete for any work to come. From there set the rest of the workout up into intervals to achieve the goal. Intervals are very useful because they help to break the workout up into sections which keep engagement in the workout high. Finally, end each workout with a nice easy warm down to help jump-start the recovery process.
3. Have Good Company: Riding with others is a great way to build community, accountability and make the work more enjoyable. However, if you do not live with or near another triathlete, it is not always realistic to lug your bike and trainer to a friends house at 5 a.m. on a weekday. A virtual training group can be a great solution. This can be done through text messages when your friends are riding or on an online platform such as Zwift.
4. Designate a Workout Space: Create an enjoyable space where you actually want to go to workout. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or large chunk of your living space. Just be sure to make it a place that gets you motivated to workout. In addition, have a fan to stay cool as this can make up to a 20 watt difference with the same workout effort. Finally, be sure to have some good music that will help to keep you engaged in the workout. For aerobic based workouts we are okay with athletes watching television, however, it does reduce focus on the ride which can lead to not being engaged.
5. Time of Day: Finally, find the time of the day where it is easiest to ride. For some it is the morning before work, others it is at the end of the day. Every athlete is different, so experiment to find what time of day is optimal for you.