Saturday, February 16, 2013

Functioning on the Indoor Trainer

While I had promised in my last post that I would give some direction on effective training I have been a bit tardy in doing so.  A mixture of indoor and outdoor training, along with work and social happenings, left little time for writing.  Instead, I took the coachly advice to recover a bit at the end of the day.  However, it is 20 degrees out today, and flurrying, so in order to get the most out of what my coach has prescribed for my workout today I will be riding the trainer. 

I’ve had even more motivation handed to me this week.  My entry into the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb was confirmed.  After that I found out that I had “won” the lottery for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race.  The best part is that these races are only a week apart. Wow!  Be careful what you ask for might be a better title for this post.  Poor riding conditions or not, I need to be training. 

So I need to continue to embrace the indoor trainer and make the most of the time you I am spending.  You can too. Think about how to function well on the trainer.  The mantra of cycling coaching is “The Specificity Rule” so use the time on the trainer to most-closely resemble what you would actually be doing if you were riding on the road. 

Focus:  Sitting on a trainer and merely pedaling the time away while watching your boxed set of old TV shows has its place, but not for every workout.  Before even getting onto the trainer determine what the purpose of the day’s workout should be.  Zero in on what your coach has planned for you.  If you do not have a coach, devise a plan for yourself that is compatible with the goals that you have coming up this season.  Work on raising your threshold power.  Just as if you were riding outside, think about the purpose of this ride and go for it. 

Fans:  People associate riding the indoor trainer with copious amounts of sweat.    Even if one trains in a chilly garage a microclimate soon forms and, wow, the body gets hot.  Fans are required, and more than one.  It is tough work to keep the core temperature down while working hard, and a strain on the body.  Why suffer with zone 4 heart rate while only producing Level 3 power?  Folks are afraid of feeling chilled, so I advise them to start out with a light jacket, arm warmers, etc.  Yes, the skin will feel cool, but it does while riding outside as well.  Those on power meters can make sure that their heart rate does not exceed what it normally does outside for the level of power produced.  If the heart rate is spiking then get some more fans on the job.
Food:  Mix drinks and bring your gels, etc., with you to your training area so you can eat replenish just as if you were on a road ride. Learn what works well for you, experiment a bit, or follow what is tried and true.   

Fit:  Squirming around on the bike?  Do you have little aches and pains that you overlook while on the road?  Is your “trainer bike” an older bike that has not been fit properly to you?  Riding indoors gives you ample opportunity to adjust your bike so that it is more comfortable.  If, however, you are still unable to find that sweet spot treat yourself to a good bike fit.

Form:  An advantage of riding the indoor trainer is the fact that one can sit up at any point in the ride to relieve back pressure, etc.  However, folks can forget that they are actually training for riding on the road and their body positions often get sloppy.  To get aggressive on the trainer one needs to get into an aggressive riding position.  Vary your time in the various positions on the bike – drops, hoods, tops.  Feel how the power originates a bit differently for each location.  Look ahead, relax the upper body. Stand up, sit down, vary your cadence.  Use your muscles as specifically as you would on a good road ride.

Fun:  OK, this gets back to my last post about motivation, but it is always worth mentioning.   Training, on some level, should always be fun.  Not every pedal stroke is going to feel glorious, but the satisfaction one gets from completing a good workout does feel really good.  Arriving at a goal event in personal best shape makes that event ever so much more enjoyable.  Feeling good enough to bury yourself, if need be, is a super reward for investing the time to effectively train for your events.  Anxiety is reduced, fun is enhanced.  Need I say more?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Indoor Training -- Motivation Required!

It is another snowy day in central New York, a good one for skiers and the like, and quite beautiful to be outside in.  The complete lack of traction on our roads, though, demands that safe riding be done indoors. The trainer – again?   But, as the saying goes, your season is made in the winter.  Fortunately, I have a Computrainer to ride, which has helped me to “make my season” since 1997.  However, even this virtual reality machine can become a boring ride if I let it. 

My legs are not always as compliant as I would like, just as my coach, Mark Fasczewski, can attest to.  But when they do take up the command I embrace my indoor training as much as possible.  I have found that, like anything else, successful indoor training requires a good amount of positive self-talk.  In other words, if one thinks that an indoor session will be boring/hard/impossible, then, well, it will!  In order to avoid that negativity I recommend that everyone get as psyched up as possible, and anticipate the “ride” just as if it were done outside.

First and foremost, get motivated by thinking about the goals that you have set for the season.  Are your races or events going to be long?  Then spending the time now building up for them will be a great gift to give yourself.  Skimping on preparation, forcing the event to become a slog instead of fun, also wastes the time and money spent to arrive at that event.  I know that my money and time are usually in short supply, so I want to get as much out of it all as possible.  As with any training session, a goal for that day’s training needs to be set.

Still having some issues?  Work a bit in the fantasy world.  Look forward to this ride just as you would if you were headed outdoors. Let’s face it, sometimes an outdoor ride is not very exciting either, but most folks do not conjure up the dread for that outdoor ride like they do for the inside world.  Pick out some good music, and choose a “place” in your mind to visualize this ride.  If you are using a training DVD work on focusing on the location where the DVD was filmed instead of the four walls of your basement or living room. If all else fails, go directly to Sufferlandria and ride with Marianne Vos, Evelyn Stevens and Emma Pooley.

Keep distractions at bay.  Try to limit peeks at your email (I find this one hard!).  Dress the part with a decent cycling kit, matching socks and water bottles.  Have all of your entertainment at hand, be it on DVD, iPod, your laptop, radio, or, if you are me, all of these.  Being able to switch from one to another, while still pedaling, can really keep you going.  Do what you can to keep yourself on your bike for the entire time.
If you have a LONG indoor ride planned, though, schedule stops, just as if you were riding on the road.  Get off and go to the “coffee shop” in the middle of the ride, just as if you were outside.  I find a shot of espresso, mid-ride, to really help me through the rest of the time.  Just remember to not get involved in any of your real-world activities until you have completed your goal for the day.

Think about the positives.  You are not going to get too cold, slip on the ice, blow off the road, have bottles thrown at you by passengers in passing vehicles, or get bitten by a stranger’s dog. You will not get lost or have frostbite if you have a flat tire or mechanical. It will not take you 45 minutes to get dressed for an indoor ride, and deciding the day’s wardrobe can be more about fun than function.

Now that I have you all excited about riding that stationary trainer for hours at a time I will save the pointers that I have for what to do when you are actually riding for my next post.  Yeah, I’ve got to get going.  My Computrainer is waiting and I will either be riding today in Lake Placid or Wisconsin. I need to check with my coach to find out, and then I need to pick out my kit.