Variety is the Spice of Indoor Training

Miss part one of this story?

And now, here we are, looking at the months that make up the winter training phase and foundation-base training phase--both of which can either make or break your year.

As you put together a detailed plan of attack, think in terms of how you can make use of all the resources available to you in terms of equipment, health clubs, training partners and training videos if you own them.

These are tools that you can use to build both variety and specificity into your attack, because the more fun it is, the easier it will be to complete.

So with that in mind, let's break down the three disciplines and ways you can address spicing up your training plans for each:

Swimming
In addition to your water workouts, which should include drill work, tempo work and sprint work, you can also incorporate some dry-land training into your program; ancillary training designed to develop strength and flexibility, helping you focus on weaknesses in your swim stroke.

Dry-land training can be done in many ways, including weight training, drilling with a medicine ball, using stretch cords or training on a swim bench. Books and videos are available on these subjects. Coaches and coaching services can also help you plan the programs and master the correct techniques.

Cycling
The indoor trainer is a savior for cyclists who wish to improve endurance, power and skill during the winter months.

The simplicity, accuracy and convenience of the modern trainer, be it a wind trainer, turbo trainer or magnetic trainer, makes indoor cycling arguably as effective as riding on the roads. And there are no cars or stop signs to contend with.

Technology has embraced indoor cycle training both at home and at the health club. Computerized stationary bikes at the gym can tell you everything from training heart rate to miles per hour.

Computerized trainers allow you to ride your own bike (a benefit to triathletes from the standpoint of positioning and training specificity) and provide a gamut of information from power output (in watts) to pedaling efficiency.

Of course, we cannot forget the popular and intense cycling workout videos. Put one in your VCR and ride an intense 45- to 90-minute coached interval workout set to great music.

Want to not only get in a multi-faceted cycling workout, but add some pizzazz to your social life? Group cycling classes are all the rage these days and easy to find at major health clubs.

Running
The treadmill is a fantastic training tool for runners and triathletes. Running on a modern impact-absorbing treadmill is a great way to significantly reduce your risk of overuse injury common with runners who pound the pavement.

But when treadmill running for whatever psychological reason time really slows down. Using fartlek-style (Fartlek means speedplay) training is one very powerful countermeasure, which breaks the total workout time into accelerations and rests, building a set of small goals which will hold your interest and motivation through the workout.

An example of a basic fartlek workout is as follows:

  • 10 to 15 minutes easy warmup

  • 6 x 3-minute moderately-paced runs at a certain speed or heart-rate, with one- to two-minute recovery rests.

  • Cool down.

Incorporate different inclines for additional variety and strength training. Most of the time, however, you'll need classic, long runs to help build your aerobic base. For that, we recommend loud music.

A Few Tips
As a lifelong resident of Maryland (a state where weather conditions can make outdoor training a challenge for at least five months of the year), I have some additional tips for making indoor training bearable:

    1. Live like a clock as best you can. Go to sleep at the same time every night. Get into a routine that jives with your training goals and plans, and work hard at the beginning to get into the indoor training habit. As you begin get stronger and check off days and weeks of training, your motivation will increase.

    2. When doing longer or high-intensity workouts, try training with others. Nothing is more motivating than training in a group situation.

    3. Use a fan when training indoors. Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you will be able to achieve a higher level of training intensity.

    4. Train in a well-ventilated room and monitor your training intensity by using a heart rate monitor.

    5. Add variety to your indoor training program. For example, when running on the treadmill, program random courses with speed and incline changes. Keep things interesting.

    6. Try listening to hard-driving, loud music during interval workouts. Listening to books on audiocassette and motivational tapes is also helpful.

    7. Watch motivating videos and TV shows. Nothing is better than watching a video of an Ironman race and visualizing yourself on the Queen K leading the pack or making a break off the front during stage 12 at the Tour de France.

    8. Remember that improved performance comes with consistent training year round, whether it is indoors or out. Your body doesn't know if you are pedaling on a trainer or on the road, as long as you are training according to intensity.

    9. Whenever you think about skipping a workout due to inclement weather, remember that one of your competitors is outside at that very moment riding in the sunshine with a warm tailwind at their back!

So stop making excuses. Get inside and train!


Coach Troy is a professional triathlete and top multisport coach. He is the creator of the Spinervals Cycling Workout Videos and he runs a National Triathlon training education program called the Triathlon Academy.

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