As we slide into winter the need for indoor training increases for many of us. It's a necessary evil that some people embrace and some dread. Indoor training doesn't have to be death by terminal boredom though. You can try different strategies to make it more entertaining and productive.
1. Have a plan;
Just getting on the trainer and riding for the sake of riding may not be the most productive use of your time. Before you get on the trainer you should have an idea of what your workout will be. Is today a structured interval or endurance type ride? Active recovery? Single leg drills? Whatever it is, try to have a plan. I find that executing structured riding also makes the time go "faster."
2. Ride with numbers;
Having your heart rate or wattage displayed in front of you will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Paying attention to staying within certain parameters will make your ride more productive from a fitness standpoint. It IS actually possible to build fitness riding indoors.
3. Minimize distractions;
Set up your trainer in a location where there will be minimal distractions. Taking calls, texting, having kids or other people interrupt you can disrupt your workout and keep you from completing your entire workout. Find a place that is comfortable, well ventilated and will allow you to focus on training. I will listen to music for most of my workouts. I would only turn on the tv if I have to do an endurance based, steady state ride that was perhaps longer in duration.
4. Reduce overall time;
If your training plan calls for a 3 hour ride, you can reduce the duration somewhat. I tell my clients that they can reduce the over all time by as much as 30 or 40 percent as long as they hit the structured elements their plan calls for. Stacking up too may days in a row indoors can make one a little kooky. If you're not totally tuned into the ride, physiologically it won't be as effective. Keeping the time within a reasonable limit will save your sanity.
While indoor training isn't always that much fun, it can be an effective tool for improving your fitness over the winter. Following these steps can help you be more productive AND have a more positive outlook on winter training.
Ainslie MacEachran is a level 2 coach with www.getzoomperformance.com. His book "The Cyclist Guide to Off Season Strength Training and Nutrition" is available on iTunes, Amazon.com and BN.com.