Now that winter is officially upon us, these next couple months may have you doing more training inside than actually out on the road.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of your indoor sessions:
1. Your Riding Position
Whether you are riding rollers, a trainer or a stationary bike, you’ll want to make sure you are in the same position that you ride in when you’re out on the road. With rollers and a trainer you won’t have too much to worry about, especially if you are riding your regular bike. With a stationary bike, however, you’ll want to take some time to accurately replicate your normal riding position. Use a tape measure to get all the measurements the same, especially the distance from saddle to pedals at their lowest point. Also check the distance between the nose of the saddle and the handlebars. Riding hard and long indoors in a position you are not used to could lead to injuries. Your knees are particularly susceptible if your saddle is not right.
Indoor training is also a great opportunity to perfect your riding position, work on cadence and, especially with rollers, improve balance and handling skills. Take the time to concentrate on the little things and tweak your position to get the most out of your effort. It will payoff greatly when you’re back on the road.
2. Include Variety and Intensity
Cranking along at a steady pace might work for a few sessions, but you’ll eventually wear down and lose interest in training if you don’t mix it up. Varying your sessions is the easiest way to stay motivated. Break it up with a 10-minute warm-up, followed but a tempo phase that includes several sprints and a 10-minutes cool-down. On longer efforts, try varying your cadence or RPM (revolutions per minute). Use your gears in conjunction with your trainer’s tension settings to imitate climbs and descents. Include one, two and even three minute high intensity efforts interspersed throughout your session. Anything that brings variety to your session will be good for your head and body.
3. Enjoy Distractions
Most cyclists ride without earbuds and music on the road for safety reasons. Training indoors allows you to indulge in all sorts of distractions. Create a playlist of your favorite tunes, or music that amps you up, and let the beat push you to new levels. Studies have shown that athletes who train with motivating music regularly achieve higher performance levels during their sessions. Another way to wile away time is to put on a favorite movie, something you’ve seen before so you won’t need to give it 100% concentration. Before you know it, an hour will have slipped right on by. Think of other distractions that will allow you to put in saddle time and use them to spice up your indoor sessions.
4. Set Training Targets
Training targets always help, whether out on the road or indoors. Even little targets will make you work just a little harder. Use power output or heart rate data as mini goals. Log times or distances. Race against your previous day’s effort. Merely sitting on your bike and pedaling every day will do little increase your fitness, but setting targets and goals will drive you to push hard and increase performance levels.
Hopefully, you won’t be stuck indoors all winter. But if you are forced inside because of foul weather and super cold temperatures, these tips should help you to get the most out of those indoor sessions.
About the Author
Tony Kelsey has 20 years marketing experience, previously serving as global vice president of creative for an international, $1B IT solutions consultancy. Although a self-proclaimed “mediocre” racer in high school, his intense passion for cycling and bicycles in general has never waned. Today he is marketing VP at Pactimo and frequently writes about cycling as a sport and hobby. @tonykelsey