Focusing on the long boring hours of winter training is an exercise in criminal neglect and pathological compartmentalization. Training indoors goes against every grain of my adventure seeking, outdoors loving spirit.
As I write these words, I feel fibres twitching, fidgety fingers seeking airfares, escape, hell – even a brisk walk to the corner store. It’s a physical, social and spiritual fix to be outdoors and active; knowing you have the whole day to enjoy and explore your world.
The days in winter are short, the nights are intensely long and there’s no real benefit to getting drunk the whole time. Work? Well, sure it’s important, but not nearly as important as being outdoors enjoying and exploring your world.
On days like this dull January morning, when the world outdoors is literally coated in ice it’s pretty much out of the question to be outdoors and enjoy and explore, let alone consider any performance-oriented training.
Basically, if you live in a northern environment, it’s almost impossible to be effective during the winter training months without working out indoors.
So what’s the solution?
Technology and friends it seems are the answers!
The advent of Zwift especially has opened the doors to competitive training environments and networks, which really challenges the rider to keep on top of their game. It’s impossible now to simply pretend your way through this time of year.
This year for the first time, I’m almost exclusively training indoors with my club. It means my road bike is now tethered to a computrainer along with seven other “regulars”. Besides having a warm, dry and safe environment to train in, it also means that there are other teammates and friends there. I know I can rely on their support in the literal sense that they are chipping into the rent of the place and more importantly are committed to being there and riding hard several times a week.
Keeping track of these rides on Strava keeps me competitive all winter. I love being able to check my weekly totals, see what other friends are up to and feel that drive to perform better as a result. Its way too easy to slack off when you’re on your own, especially when it comes to getting out of bed at 4am to train on a cold winter’s day!
Having said that, knowing I can go in early, have the place to myself and spin easy also goes a long way as well to keeping base mileage high. It’s a double benefit to be able to clock in for 90 mins easy base and then go hard and specific with the group.
I’m personally looking forward to seeing where my fitness level is come April 1st, which is technically for me the start of road season. Last year a lot of the indoor training I did was unquantifiable because of the place and tools I used (YMCA, spin bike, spin class). As a result there is no way of verifying actual work performed. Metrics like TSS were totally unknown to me.
Some people say that tools like this detract from the pleasure of riding and training, but I take an alternate position. I think you feel better and get more pleasure from riding when you’re optimized to be the best rider you can be.
It’s amazing how much information and how much time some people have invested in developing their skillset at an amateur level, and I consider myself privileged to be able to train with them.
I’m itching now to toe the line, the sun is coming up; the bugles are calling us to action! Let the fun begin again, this time with a bit better base, and a bit brassier bit between the teeth….