Riding an indoor trainer used to get a bad rep, and it was often considered boring, no fun, or quite simply a slog. It was typically considered as a last resort if the weather was bad, and even then it was 'just for racers'. Times have changed with the development of awesome smart trainers and online training platforms which keep your mind engaged while your legs and lungs get busy.
If you've recently started indoor training, or you are considering making the jump, then here are 4 Pro Tips for Indoor Training.
Bike Fit & Saddle Health
Having your bike correctly set up so that you are comfortable is incredibly important. Saddle sores, numbness, and chaffing are all serious issues that shouldn't be ignored. Consider all of the points which follow as areas to invest in.
First of all, you should make sure that your bike fits you and it is correctly set up. If you don't know the basics of setting up your bike position then you can do some research online, ask a more experienced rider or coach, or seek professional advice from a bike fitter. Getting a professional bike fit is really worthwhile, and your bike fitter can help you to select a saddle that suits you perfectly.
Second of all, don't scrimp on your bike shorts. Do some research and buy some good quality bib cycling shorts with a chamois, or padding. When you are wearing your chamois shorts you shouldn't wear underwear underneath. Most people don't know this at first.
Finally, consider getting some chamois cream which you can apply to the padding of your shorts or directly to your skin before training. This will feel strange at first, but most pros swear by chamois cream to keep saddle sores at bay by limiting friction and keeping bacterial build-up at bay
Have A Focus For Each Session
Indoor training got the reputation of being boring because riding at one pace for a long time just isn't that much fun. A great way to stay engaged on the trainer is to have a focus or purpose each time you ride it.
Get into the routine of structuring a concise warm-up, activity, and cool down. This can be high-intensity intervals, but it could also be general endurance riding. Keep your mind busy by changing gear every minute or so, by altering cadence, switching hand positions, or by riding in or out of the saddle. Listening to music is a great way to keep you motivated, and you can even change the intensity of your riding each time the song changes. You can also set up a TV, laptop or tablet to watch race replays while you ride.
However, the best way to stay focussed and motivated during your indoor training rides is to have a specific training plan. You can also sign up to programmes like Zwift for training sessions, group rides, and even races for some extra fun.
It's easy to overheat when riding an indoor trainer as you don't have wind to cool you down as you ride. Think about this when choosing the location for your trainer. This could be in your garage or in your house close to a window or door.
Most indoor pros will set up at least one fan to keep cool during the session, and a lot of riders will ride in just shorts and vest. You can also keep a towel close to hand to dry off when you get a sweat on, as that's probably going to happen!
Hydration And Nutrition
If you're going to train hard then you'll need to fuel up and stay hydrated. If you're doing any high-intensity training then you'll need to fuel up long before you get on the bike.
A great way to get ready for this is to have a high-carb meal like pasta, rice, or porridge 2-3 hours before you even get on the bike.
Follow up with a carb-based snack with 1 hour before training.
If you're planning some really hard intervals then you could consider caffeine as well - maybe an energy drink with caffeine 30 minutes before the session.
During the session, you're going to need to ensure you stay hydrated and replenish lost fluids. A medium sized bottle of electrolyte drink (500ml) every hour will help you stay hydrated and top-up salts lost through sweating.
If your ride is longer than an hour, you'll want to ensure you take on carbs as well as fluid. Aim for 60-90g of carbs every hour. This can come from solid food, energy drinks, gels, fruit, or cereal bars.
Post-ride you need to replenish fluids, refuel carbohydrates and recover by consuming protein.
Straight after, have a high protein shake - aim to do this within 20 to 30 minutes and take on around 20-30g of protein.
Within 2 hours have a high carb meal with protein and vegetables - think spaghetti bolognese or similar.
Keep on drinking! You're going to want to replenish fluids for long after training. Sip at your waterbottle little and often for up to 4 hours post-training.
So there you have our 4 Pro Tips For Indoor Training. Give them a try and let us know how you get on! And if you have any other tips then remember that you can leave them in the comments section.