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Are you feeling a little trapped these days? Is “hamster on a wheel” your new spirit animal? As many of us are required to “shelter in place” due to the pandemic and most events have been postponed or canceled for 2020, it can be difficult to be motivated to train. Depending on your location, you might even be entirely sequestered indoors.
I am currently in Petaluma, California and fortunate that riding outdoors, not in groups, is recognized as a safe and healthy activity as long as it is done responsibly and in a self-supported manner. But to limit the increased risk inherent in outdoor activities and for the safety and protection of us all, I still spend quite a bit of time indoors. If you are like me, you love riding your bike for the pure bliss of exploring the outdoors and soaking in the sunshine. Spinning in place and going nowhere will never be as inspiring as those coastal vistas and bakery destinations.
In this time of crisis, it is important to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Exercise can really help for not only overall health but also for an improved mental space. But if sitting on a trainer makes you want to repeatedly hit your head against a wall, which is not good for your brain, heed some of my tips for indoor training and use them to stay motivated and keep pedaling. Just keep pedaling. Bikes aren’t canceled.
1. ESTABLISH GOALS
Before you even get started, document what you want to accomplish during this time. Yes, you can have big dreams about future races and adventures, but also achievable goals you can do right now whether it’s simply pedaling a certain number of days a week or working on a particular weakness on the bike. What can you control? What can you work on?
Smart trainers are all the rage and they are worth it! You can sync it to Lezyne GPS Devices via FE-C, apps, training programs, games and social platforms galore. Wear a heart rate monitor as well to more easily track your effort. Remember, your heart rate might be a little higher on the trainer because of heat, lack of air flow, etc.
Whether you are using a coach, or an online platform, having structure in your trainer efforts makes the time fly by, as well as gives you a purpose and a goal. This could be a great time to get a coach to help you come up with a plan or use the resources online such as Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, and TrainingPeaks. I love the structure my CTS coach gives me. It helps me balance work and training time, while staying focused on my goals.
With that structure, this is a great time to work on building your threshold and capacity through high intensity workouts. I find it easier to do super high intensity workouts on the trainer because you don’t have to worry about external hazards such as obstructions, terrain, and vehicles. On a trainer, you can really hunker down for your efforts and lay it all out there. If you go so hard you might collapse, well, at least there may be a couch nearby. Also, the harder you go on the trainer, the less time you have to spend on it!
What do you do on the trainer besides structure? Find something entertaining! I am lucky I find myself very entertaining, so I haven’t really struggled with this part. I do enjoy the guilty pleasure of a romantic comedy or the latest cheesy show that I am binge watching on Netflix. When on the trainer, there is no judgment in what you are watching! I am not on Zwift (I will be very soon!), but I know many people love the thrill of meeting up and racing their friends online. Whether it be music, a television show, or a video game, if you can find something you enjoy doing, while riding the trainer, it won’t feel as monotonous.
Most of the time, I try to remain focused on my training program and the task at hand. But, the trainer does offer the ability to multi-task. You can answer a few texts, take a conference call on mute, or just zone out. This would be dangerous if you were riding outside, but the trainer is a great controlled environment for structured training and the ability to “text and ride”. Technically, you can clock into two offices at once!
7. CALL YOUR GRANDMA
Really, if you are riding easy just to move your legs, you might as well call your grandma, your mom, your cousin, your roommate from college… you get it. I am sure they would love to hear a story about your epic trainer workout.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA LURK
Like a few posts. Make a social media account for your cat. Whatever you do, don’t hit like on an ex’s photo from six months ago. Tag me in a story on Instagram (@amtetrick). I am sure I would love to hear about your epic trainer workout about as much as your grandma.
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Don’t just sit on the trainer! Try other exercises that you usually say you don’t have time for. I am doing 40 push-ups a day and just added some core work into my daily routine. It isn’t all about the bike.
Ready to hop on a trainer? This is a really easy 1 hour workout provided by CTS.
If you love power numbers, you can go off of your functional threshold power (FTP). FTP is your highest power output that you can sustain for 45 to 60 minutes. Do you want to know your FTP? This is a great opportunity to test it on the trainer. FTP can be tested by a 20 minute all-out effort. Warm-up for about 10 minutes and then hit the gas and see what happens after going as hard as you can for 20 minutes. This 20 min average power number is then multiplied by .95 and you have a good idea what your FTP is. This number is what most training programs are built around and gives you a baseline for creating workouts and tracking your progress. Don’t have a power meter or don’t care? The rating of perceived exertion (RPE) has been shown to be quite accurate and is a great tool to measure your effort.
Note from Lezyne: Structured workouts can be followed on your Lezyne GPS via Today’s Plan and TrainingPeaks. Lezyne GPS Devices have a “Stationary Trainer Mode.” This tells the device to not look for a GPS signal, but still allows you to record sensor data or run a workout.
• 4:00 Easy
• 1:00 75% of FTP or Rating of Perceived Exertion of 6/10
• 1:00 Easy
• 1:00 100% of FTP or RPE 8/10
• 1:00 Easy
• 0:30 125% of FTP or RPE 10/10
• 1:30 Easy
Repeat 3 x
• 5:00 90% of FTP or RPE 7/10
• 3:00 100% of FTP or RPE 8/10
• 1:00 110% of FTP or RPE 9/10
• 4:00 easy spinning recovery at 50-70% of FTP or RPE 3-5
Quick and easy, and a burner! Enjoy the training and stay safe and healthy.