Winter Blues: 5 Tips for Surviving the Trainer

Snow now officially covers most of Ontario and if you anything like me it means you have moved your training inside.  If you haven’t, you have my respect.  Everyone knows that riding the trainer sucks, you put in all this effort and go nowhere, so here are my 5 top tips for how to make your trainer time this winter more enjoyable bearable.

  1. Get a fan.  Without wind and your heater running all winter, it is easily to quickly get really hot.  So it would be a great idea to invest in a nice big fan to blow in your face to cool you down.  Bonus, you don’t have to worry about increased drag from a head wind.  I personally have a fan blowing on me and crack a window a bit.
  2. Structure your workout.  A good way to make your time on the trainer go by faster is to have a structured workout to do.  Breaking up your time into smaller intervals will help it feel like time is going by faster since.  Even when base training, when doing long, steady rides, you can break up the work out by throwing in some spin ups (increase your cadence to your max without bouncing in the saddle and hold it for a minute).
  3. Watch TV.  Since you have no scenery to look at like you do outside, setting up in front of the TV or a computer is a great way to distract yourself.  Throw on some old races and get motivated by your favorite riders.  Time always feels slower when you are just staring at a clock so keeping yourself distracted is a great way to speed up time.
  4. Use a workout video.  A combination of tips 2 and 3, a workout video is a great way to make your time on the trainer fly by.  I personally really enjoy the videos put out by The Sufferfest (check out my reviews of Nine Hammers, The Rookie and Elements of Style) but there are plenty of other options out there to check out.
  5. Keep it short.  You can only handle so much time on the trainer and winter is long so in order to avoid burning out while before spring, keep your rides to between 60 and 90 minutes (sometimes 120 minutes is fine).  Riding on the trainer is more efficient than riding outside because there are no stop signs or stop lights, so you can get the same workout in less time.  So take advantage of that fact and keep your rides short.

If you would rather get some tips from a video, here is a Top 10 list put together by the guys at GCN:

The Sufferfest: Downloadable cycling workout videos.