D3 Pro Tips: Avoiding Long Rides on the Trainer
D3 Pro Tips: Avoiding Long Rides on the Trainer
By Coach Curt Chesney
If you?ve read my training journal from this winter you?ll notice two things. I wasn?t kidding when I said in November ?I refuse to ride indoors this winter? and in December when I said ?triathlon is a summer sport?.
I have managed a lot of time in the pool, but almost no bike and run miles. Usually the winter is my favorite time of year to work on my run. This years off season has been spent trying to heal a running injury. One reason I have not ridden much is the wind this year has been epic. Of course on days I?m at work it?s dead calm and warm. Why not ride inside? Well, I just don?t enjoy it and since triathlon is my hobby and my ?fun time? I figure why bother doing something I don?t enjoy. Most winters I?ll get on the trainer a couple of times, usually late in the winter when I?m starting to worry about my form with the first races coming up. If you share my despise of riding indoors then maybe I can offer some advice.
On one of my first rides of the year today I started thinking of mistakes I see a lot of triathletes make with their cycling in the winter. At the gym I too often hear ?I rode 4 hours on my trainer today? (go figure I live in Boulder). I believe that this kind of time on the trainer is the biggest mistake a person can make. I doubt that any kind of quality can be sustained for 3 or 4 hours on an indoor trainer. Remember we are training for three sports so you are still getting the aerobic (base) benefit from the cumulative weekly training hours of cycling, swimming and running combined. What usually happens in a session like this to kill the boredom is a movie and or just spinning along with no kind of structure in mind.
A 60 to 90 minute workout on the trainer with a 10 to 15 minute warm up and some intervals or drills for 30 min to an hour and a short cool down will bring much more fitness than spinning along watching Forest Gump. For an interval set you don?t need to flog yourself like it?s July, but just do some work closer to threshold for short periods of time. Even some ? IM intensity for 10 or 20 min blocks can be very effective. A good time killer: alternate one leg drills (30 sec each leg with 1 min easy recovery) can help to smooth out your pedal stroke, and make your legs burn more than a joint at a Grateful Dead show. If you have a treadmill a great workout is 30-40 minutes on the trainer then 20-30 minutes on the treadmill then repeat two to three times or until you puke. Doing these smaller blocks helps ease the boredom and can be an effective 2 to 3 hour indoor workout, which is great if it?s even too nasty out to run
If you have an IM coming up and need the cycling miles just structure your weekly program with some flexibility so you can ride long when the weather is good. If you can only ride on the weekend and the weather is too bad just remember my next two options. 1.) If you miss a long ride here and there this won?t affect your race, especially if you can be flexible and switch your long rides with your runs instead. 2.) I can guarantee you that time spent in the gym will help your cycling more than time on the trainer.
Triathlon cycling is very power and strength oriented, especially considering you need some leg and core strength left for the run. Sitting on a spin bike may help your aerobic base, but not any more than swimming or running. Also remember Lance is one of a very few top pros that can generate lots of power with a high cadence. So skip the spin bike or trainer session get to the gym and work on the cycling muscles: Quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes, lower back and core. A strong core will also help you maintain good run form late in the race, helping your run splits. Use the following points to help improve your cycling this year:
Substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than ?another trainer session?, especially for athletes over 35.
A one hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer.
One hour of strength in the gym followed by one hour of structured cycling on the trainer = watch out Lance.
Weekly training time is cumulative for all three sports. You don?t need long trainer sessions to build your aerobic base.
So if you dislike riding indoors as much as I do then keep these things in mind during the winter months. You will be cycling stronger than ever this year! See you at the races!
Curt Chesney is a professional triathlete who balances training with a full time job and young family. He coaches with D3 Multisport and can be reached for coaching at Curt@D3Multisport.com