For those athletes in the northern hemisphere, winter is rapidly approaching. Here in Colorado, although we haven’t had any significant snow yet, there have been mulitple days in a row where the thermometer has barely ticked over freezing. But we’re tough, and we have big goals for next season, so that means bringing your training game indoors at times. Here are some reasons why training indoors doesn’t have to suck this winter.
Training indoors can be rough. But it doesn’t have to be. Follow these pointers so that your chomping at the bit to get on the bike
For any working professional, this goes hand in hand with what you already do to make your training time run smoothly. But, nothing can kill an indoor training session more so than having to stop and start. Being organized means making sure you have everything you need to complete the session from start to finish. This includes often forgotten items such as food, a towel and making sure what ever form of entertainment or training device is set ready to go. Aside from the odd bathroom break, everything should be at arms reach so that the legs don’t have to stop turning Make a checklist if you have to, or set things up the day before.
HAVE A PLAN.
Whether you are a coached athlete or not, having a plan for you indoor session is perhaps one of the biggest key ingredients. Anything from high intensity VO2max intervals, to long blocks of tempo or cadence work, lay out some guidelines . Riding indoors is a very concentrated training session, and you can take advantage of not having distractions such as inappropriate terrain or things like traffic lights. But the downside is, just “riding endurance” can get very monotonous very quickly. So spice it up with a little cadence work, varied intensity and have some fun. Remember however, thanks to a few various factors, there is always a decreased efficiency when riding indoors. To begin with, aiming for a 5-10% in FTP should put you right in the ball park. But, if you are going to be indoors for longer than 5-6 weeks in a row, an indoor test to adjust FTP is recommended.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN.
Personally, I can’t watch movies when I am on the trainer. Why? Because I usually get so caught up in the plot that my legs start to slow down! I much prefer watching live concerts or cycling footage more than anything else. Sometimes, even just music is enough. Either way, finding what makes it enjoyable for you can help the time fly by. These days, with the option of using a magnificent interactive indoor training platform such as Zwift, the amount of stimulus for our brain can be as engaging as we want it to be. I am a massive fan of using whatever tools possible, so long as the quality and focus of the workout remains intact.
Despite it possibly being sub freezing outdoors, riding indoors is usually hot, sweaty and messy work. Because there is no moving air flow, the body’s ability to cool itself can be severely hampered, which means a massive decrease in performance. So crack those windows, get a decent sized fan or two, and make sure you stay well hydrated. Not only hydrated during the session, but afterwards also. I’ve had sessions where I’ve lost 2-3kg in fluid, which if not replaced, will have a large impact on recovery for the next day. So, as part of being prepared, have a few more extra bottles ready than you think you need. At worst you can slam them down afterwards.
AVOID THE GRIND.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. If you happen to live in a place where the winters are long, and the bike seems to stay locked on the trainer for weeks on end, then don’t become a slave to it. The winter is a great time to explore different activities that can enhance your cycling performance for the following season. Whether it’s snow shoeing or skiing, running/hiking, or simply joining a regular class at your local gym (Yoga or Pilates are fantastic choices), mixing it up is great for the mind and the body. It’s important to be a well-rounded athlete, so taking a few days a week to challenge your body in a different way may seem like a scary concept, but it just could be the key against winter burnout.