Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Survive Winter Cycling Training Indoors

If you ride bicycle a bunch, you more than likely train year round. And if you're lucky enough to be located in the snow belt, you likely have experienced the numb fingers and feet while trying to ride outside in sub-freezing temps. That uncomfortable frozen feeling probably forced you indoors to try indoor winter cycling. Two of the most popular indoor winter cycling sports are spin classes which are very popular and sometime very intense, and riding a trainer - a mechanism to sit your own bike on and ride for miles without moving an inch. I, personally, have never experienced a spin class; but I've heard from many people they are incredibly good workouts. Problem is, from my perspective as an endurance athlete, they are too short. I've never heard of a spin class lasting longer than an hour. Granted, you need that intensity at least once a week, but it still seems too short to me. The trainer, on the other hand, is convenient and at your fingertips whenever you have time to ride. Problem is, I've heard the majority of people say, they can't last longer than an hour riding indoors (which makes the spin classes seem attractive, huh!) Even the legendary cycling coach, Joel Friel, states its a rare individual than can sit on a trainer for hours upon hours. He also shared other tips for the Endurance Factor Website. Three years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing indoor trainer riding with a group. For an entire winter from November to March, a group of 4 to 8 of us would ride for three hours at a time - the coach would go four. The group setting make it entirely tolerable. The other nicety was a CompuTrainer which takes all boredom out of indoor riding. It's a computer device that provides visual riding on dozens of preset courses with a device that connects to your rear tire and simulates the course by putting more or less pressure on your tire. But, us normal folks typically don't have $1,700 to drop on a Computrainer, so once I was on my own again, I had to figure ways to endure 3-hour sessions on my own. Yes my friends, I am one of those rare cases that can endure hours upon hours on a trainer. Here's what I found works:
  • It helps if you have someone to train with, but when you don,'t:
  • Good music works. Pick your favorites and load them on your MP3
  • Good movies work. Plug in the DVD and the movie and start spinning.
  • Spinerval DVDs are awesome workouts. Build a collection of about a dozen so you don't get bored with playing the same DVD all the time.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your bike computer.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on the wall.
  • Pay NO attention to the time on your heart rate monitor.
  • Focus on the sounds or the DVD ONLY
  • If you watch your movie or music all the way through, you know you are on the trainer for somewhere between 1 and 2 hours - 3 hours if you get long movies or Spinerval DVDs.

Did I mention you really shouldn't watch the time? That part is REALLY important. I found if you totally focus on anything BUT the time, you can survive. Before you know it, an hour is over and you're just getting warmed up! Avatar (2-3/4 hours long) is on tap for this weekend. As is Titanic (3.25 hours), or maybe "Tough Love", a 3-hour Spinerval session.

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