Trainer Road Has Converted Me
First 2016 Training Update and Trainer Road “Review”
Las winter I wrote a piece comparing the pros and cons of traditional base training and high intensity training as a substitute. In that series, I concluded that both methods of training have their place and decided that traditional base training was probably a better fit for me. (Despite the spoilers, the series is still worth a read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)
As a result of my research, that was how I structured my training last winter. I spent up to two and a half hours some days just spinning my legs in the mind numbing dullness of the trainer believing that would make me a better cyclist. When the season came around, I came out flat and slow because riding slow makes you slow.
This winter I have decided to take a different approach to base training and am a Sweet Spot convert thanks to the folks at Trainer Road. If you haven’t heard of Trainer Road its a computer based training software that interacts with your trainer or ANT+ devices to work you through a large library of workouts.
My review of Trainer Road is that it is the best training tool invented since the power meter. The onscreen graphics and easy to follow workouts keeps you engaged while suffering on the trainer. And the ability to overlay the Trainer Road app over other programs like Netflix makes trainer time almost enjoyable. If you have not checked out Trainer Road yet, you need to.
Trainer Road also has a large selection of training plans for all cyclists and goals. For base training, they have plans for Traditional Base and Sweet Spot Base, which they would recommend for 90% of cyclists over Traditional Base.
The shorter, more intense workouts are aimed at building muscular endurance by working just below threshold. These workouts prepare you for the harder efforts that come later in your annual training plan which is the goal of base training (train to train). Their shorter length and more engaging nature make them a good fit for the cyclist who might not have the motivation for the long trainer rides required in Traditional Base.
Why would I ride 12 hours on the trainer each week when I could get similar benefits in just 8?
That’s just one of the reasons why I have moved away from my previous stance on base training. The other is an idea that has become increasingly popular among professional riders and that is of reverse periodization.
What is reverse periodization? Well it is basically reversing the training periods. So instead of starting with your base, then moving to build and race with intensity increasing as move along, you flip the schedule. You start with more intense, specific efforts at the start of the season putting more strain on your body when you are fresher before moving into the longer rides.
Or I can just let the guys at GCN explain it to you a lot better.
This also works great for those of us with tough winters. Why would I want my highest volume weeks in the winter when I am either riding indoors or freezing outside? Doing shorter more intense efforts in the winter means less time on the trainer or outside. Once the weather is nice you can head outside and put in the big miles with your muscular endurance already built.
With the road racing season beginning so early in Ontario this year, I think this switch to Sweet Spot training will have the added benefit that I will be ready to go for the first race. Since I am riding fast now, I will be ready to ride fast on Good Friday. If riding slow makes you slow, then riding fast makes you fast.
So far in 2016 I have struggled for motivation to get on the trainer but Trainer Road has helped with that by keeping my rides interesting. If I was mindlessly spinning just watching Netflix I don’t think I would be surviving this winter. But with the help of Trainer Road, I will push on with the hope that 2016 will be a great year.