To use but not abuse …..
One of my clients and I were having a discussion on indoor trainers, it was about using one while not abusing yourself. In previous years, before working with me, he was riding his trainer anywhere between 10 to 20+ hours a week. He was depending on the trainer to build fitness and endurance. I tried to share with him that no matter how much time you spend on the trainer it cannot compare to the endurance benefits you gain by riding on the road.
No way around it, if you want to be competitive in the spring and you live where the weather severely impedes that goal, you HAVE to hit the trainer! But how much, how often and what purpose does it serve?
In my 25 years of racing in the Midwest, I have never spent more than 2 hours on the trainer at one time. Seriously, I don’t have the mental energy to do more than that. I could perceive doing 2+, 3 hours MAX, IF my tolerance for the temperature was lower. But my cut-off is about 25 and sunny, 28 and cloudy so I can get out and deal with it except on those severe weekends.
During the months of January and February, I ride my D-Motion Rollers a maximum of 4 times per week. My weekday sessions are 60 to 90 minutes per day and my weekend sessions are 60 to 120 minutes per day. I use this time to build QUALITY, not quantity. Granted I am going on the assumption that the weekends are surely going to get better and I can build my endurance then.
After our phone call, he sent me the following points to clarify our conversation. I would like to share it with you.
1. Do the workouts as prescribed with fresh legs and hit all the interval wattages rather than attempting them with tired legs and failing.
YES! I am trying to build a winter trainer program for you that increases your LT with structured work. So you have work. Recovery. More work. Recovery. Etc. Rest week. Then start the build towards the next phase or step. In order to get to that next step, we need to make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for the work; by resting. Kind of like climbing the stairs of a building with a landing at each floor. Up, up, up, up, REST. Up, up, up, up, REST. As we do this we go higher and higher each time.
2. Completing the intervals on fresh legs successfully makes you faster.
YES. It is much better to complete the drill 100% successfully than doing 100% on effort 1, 90% on effort 2 and 80% on effort 3. Again, build, build, build, REST. Repeat. I tried to do some efforts after my LT test Saturday, didn’t have it at all, too tired! First effort was good. Second effort was nowhere near where I was on the first, so I rode for 15 more minutes EASILY and climbed off. If I would have kept pushing, I would have dug myself in a hole. You did 2 20’s on the 16th with a target of 210-220W. Effort 1 was perfect; 216 W average. Effort 2 you lost it after about 5-7 minutes averaging 170 W for the whole effort. This tells me that you were either mentally or physically tired. Theoretically speaking, you should have been able to hold 210-220 W for 20 minutes. On the 18th you did 3 10 minute efforts. Nice perfect efforts each interval. Very little deviation from 1 to 3. THAT is what is important!
3. Attempting the intervals and failing just maintains your wattages around where they have always been.
Don’t know if it “maintains” them the same but you are not able to build because you are constantly fighting to push TOO MUCH, to go higher and you are over-working yourself while never attaining your goal. Better to achieve the goal successfully – then set a new higher goal to work for. Just like I explained above.
4. Use trainer workouts to build watts through intervals and short rides.
AMEN brother!!!!! I equate trainer time to 1.5 to 2 times that of the road. So, I believe that a 1 hour STRUCTURED trainer ride is equal to a 1.5 to 2 hour road ride.
5. Use road rides to build endurance through long rides and varied terrain.
He sees the light!!! YES!!!!!
6. Combining endurance and interval work on the trainer may make you fit, but will not make you significantly faster.
If you are doing more than 3 hours on the trainer, you need to be COMMITTED!!! In all my years, I have NEVER been on the trainer for more than 2 hours! Trainer is for QUALITY. Road is for QUALITY and QUANTITY!!