Question: I’m stuck on the indoor trainer for the winter and I’m going crazy! I use headphones and play loud and obnoxious music, but the minutes crawl by. Please send some ideas or I’ll be riding in a rubber room. — Mary P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Boredom is nearly unavoidable on trainers because your mind isn’t occupied with maneuvering the bike, watching out for traffic or potholes, or admiring the scenery. But most riders can get through a 60-minute indoor session without psychotherapy if they use these suggestions:
- Get visual stimulation. Watch TV programs, movies or videos. There are tapes that put you on roads in scenic places, and tapes that choreograph workouts. I like to watch pro road races. Music is okay, but your mind needs to do some visual processing as well.
- Break the workout into small chunks. Make it a rule never to do anything for more than three minutes. Ride short intervals. Alternate standing and sitting for a minute each. Pedal with one leg and then the other. Sprint for 15 seconds and spin for 45 seconds. Anything to avoid long and deadly boring blocks of time.
- Don’t do endurance workouts. Most riders limit themselves to one hour on the trainer, tops. You can do intense workouts indoors, but long slogs are incredibly mentally tough. They’re not as beneficial, either.
- Do indoor group rides. Cajole several friends into bringing their trainers to your house and riding with you. Like at spinning classes, have one person be the leader, responsible for planning the workout and calling out the next drill. Group indoor rides are much more fun than training alone — and no one ever gets dropped!
By the way, when you use headphones, be smart about the volume. It’s tempting to jack it up so all trainer and fan noise is drowned out, but this could damage your hearing.