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Pain Cave v/s The Great Outdoors

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

The answer may seem obvious…but don’t go away yet!

Here are 5 reasons why the truth may NOT be “out there”.

When I hit the road, get that hit of vitamin D and fresh air, I always feel like I am flying.

Turbo-trainers are beasts! They can be tedious, monotonous and they hurt. So then why do coaches and experts recommend training on a Turbo Trainer?

1. Time efficiency

If you are juggling work, travel, family the trainer is the most time efficient option to take. When speaking to Hitisha Mehta (Super Randonneur), she said, “A lot of times due to work or other commitments I cannot be on the road by 4.30/5 am to ride long, as you cannot ride in Mumbai post 7.30/8 am, I get on my trainer at a convenient time and manage to stick to my workout schedule. On other days, when there is a time crunch but I feel I have a little time to “do something” it is easy to get onto the trainer and put in an intense 30-40 min session.” According to Viv Menon (certified Ironman Coach and Triathlete) suggests that when you have erratic work hours a trainer makes it convenient to train at home or work.

2. Safety

If you live in a metro, you need to negotiate traffic as well as signals while riding, running the risk of accidents and injuries. Russa Mehta (Triathlete, Marathoner) recounts, “At the end of a hard ride I was coasting down Pedder Road when a car pulled out of a one-way road the wrong way, right in front of me. I braked, emergency braking, probably too hard with my front brake. I avoided hitting the car but I flipped over with my face planted on Pedder Road. I was lucky and got away with a few scratches on my face. I could have easily broken something. Anything can happen in this city!”

Venkat (Bikey Venky- BV Coaching, Bengaluru) advises, “Those who live in the heart of a city and can’t get out of the city quickly to ride on the highway or anywhere with good roads and no/light traffic, a trainer works wonders. It allows them to put in the long rides safely, maintaining the required intensity.”

Set up your pain cave: Bike/trainer/TV!!

It enables you to ‘zone in’ on effort and technique rather than reducing your energy to focus on balance and traffic.

Nigel Smith (British Cycling Level 3 Accredited Coach) explains, “It allows you to do short, full power sprints safely (and not worry about traffic), you can control your effort much more accurately (for example, if you’re doing a power or threshold based session) without having to navigate changes in wind or elevation and you can use it to improve your technique (for example, one-legged drills to develop smooth cadence.)”

Whilst riding on the road, our main focus needs to remain on motorists, errant scooters and jaywalkers. On a trainer, you can focus on what you need to!

3. Simulating race conditions
Practice on your race route using third party apps

For those planning to race on flat courses but live in hilly areas or vice versa, the trainer is really useful for simulating various terrains. Smart trainers can use a lot of apps to simulate riding on any course, anywhere in the world. As Viv said, “With many apps like Zwift, Trainer road coming out with their own platforms, real world courses, elevation and structured training can be programmed and your trainer can be controlled.”

Also, in a race you need to be aero for long periods of time. This can be practiced at home on the trainer so that your body gets used to riding in that position.

4. Adjusting your bike fit
Get used to racing position (pic courtesy Viv Menon)

Setting up your race bike on the trainer is a great way of getting your body used to the different positions which you will adopt during a race. From riding on drop bars to getting used to a new seat height, or if you are planning on using clip-on aero bars or you have a TT bike, you need to spend time on the bike, in this position every week during the race season. Mehul Ved (140.6 IM Triathlete, BRM rider, Marathoner) sums it up by saying, “A trainer can be used to do pretty much all kinds of training with the exclusion of skill work.”

5. Beat the weather:

Nigel Smith quips, “With our weather forecasts being as ‘reliable’ as they are, during the monsoon it allows you to get a workout without getting soaked or in summer without getting baked (or, where I come from – you can get a work-out done without getting frozen or risking crashing due to ice!).”

To conclude, eating and drinking on the bike, dealing with the wind and having other riders around you are some of the key experiences that you can only get from riding outdoors. Other than these basic handling skills, for all kinds of riding, it is hard to beat an indoor trainer. You can control your efforts precisely and ensure you’re hitting exactly the right intensity. There are no distractions, no junctions to interrupt you and no other riders or motorists to worry about – you can just put your head down and give it your all! In your own sweet time!!

Your trainer is an essential tool in your training arsenal.

Some typical trainer workouts (courtesy Bikey Venky):

  1. Warm up for 10-15 mins, 5x(5'+5') VO2 max {read as 5 repeats of 5 minutes hard effort at VO2 max intensity followed by 5 mins recovery} then 10 mins cool down.

  2. Warm up for 10-15 mins, 2x(20'+10') SST {read as 2 repeats of 20 minutes effort at sweet spot intensity followed by 10 mins recovery} then 10 mins cool down.

  3. Warm up for 10-15 mins, 3x(12'+5') Z4/Threshold {read as 3 repeats of 12 minutes effort at threshold intensity followed by 5 mins recovery} with 10 mins cool down.

Tags: cycling, triathlons, road biking, bike training, Turbo training

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