5 Tips for Starting to Train Indoors
Regardless of how well we might outfit ourselves with PEPPERMINT Fall riding kit, there comes a time in every bike season when venturing outside becomes more challenging. Whether it is the lack of daylight, back-to-back rainy days, or cold winds and temperatures, for many of us, the time has come for indoor training.
Fortunately, PEPPERMINT just launched an indoor training collection; lightweight pieces perfect for getting us through the colder months so we can continue to feel fit and healthy.
I often train indoors even during the summer months when work and weather make outdoor rides more challenging to fit into my schedule. Here are some tips and tricks I hope you can use to start training indoors too!
Photo credits here.
Pick Your Trainer!
First up, the trainer. There are multiple options available on the market, in a range of prices. They fall into two basic categories: wheel-on trainers and direct drive trainers.
Wheel-on are the most approachable from a price standpoint. They attach to the bike’s rear wheel axle and a resistance unit applies pressure against your tire as you pedal. These models tend to be easy to fold flat for storage. This is particularly useful if you’re training in a small space! There are also now “smart” wheel-on options, which receive feedback from your bike and can be connected to and controlled through training apps. I would encourage a specific training tire for this type of unit because your supple road tires will soon fall apart and become pencil eraser shavings all over your training space; both messy and bad for your tires.
The second category of bike trainer is direct drive. With this option, you remove the rear wheel from your bike and set the frame onto the trainer’s cog stack. These trainers are controlled through an app and allow for a generally smoother training experience. These apps also integrate with training platforms (more on that later). Direct drive trainers come in a range of prices and are considerably more expensive. So do some research and consider which style of trainer will best suit your needs.
The wild card trainer is a set of rollers. This old-school training tool is very effective at improving pedal stroke and balance. That said, they take a lot of getting used to and are not as mindless as the options presented above.
Assemble Your Tools!
Now that you have decided on a trainer, there are a couple of other things I would suggest setting up for a successful and enjoyable indoor training season.
By moving your bike inside, you no longer have the benefit (and challenge) of wind and airflow and you’re likely to get hot. I would encourage you to set up a fan in front of your bike to help keep cool. Next, grab an old towel or large cloth. I train with a towel draped across my handlebars. This serves two purposes for me, (1) I sweat a lot when I ride inside and sometimes need to wipe my face (gross, but true) and (2) it gives me somewhere to cradle my phone, which is what I use to control my trainer and how I listen to music on the bike.
Make sure you have a water bottle, either in your bottle cage or nearby. And if you have an old yoga mat or exercise pad, consider laying it out underneath your trainer and your bike. You’ll protect your floor from sweat and wear and soften some of the noise from the trainer as well. Finally, if you’re planning on using a laptop or tablet for an app or to watch a show while training, make sure you have a small table/window ledge/flat surface in front of your bike for your screen. Adjust the lights in your room as you’d wish, and you’re all set!
Getting dressed for indoor training is like riding outside; I am often cold when I start, and then warm up. I also want my clothes to keep me as dry and comfortable as possible. Here enters PEPPERMINT’s new indoor training collection.
The lighter weight material of my Indoor Training Bib straps keeps me cool, and the silicone gripping leg band means I can do my whole workout without tugging at my shorts. I’m also starting to use the rear phone pocket for rides I am not doing intervals and adjusting my trainer. The Indoor Training Tee is the perfect piece to keep me covered through my warm-up or on gentle rides, while wicking sweat. And the Training Head Band does an excellent job of keeping my hair and sweat out of my face.
If you feel you are struggling with motivation, try laying out your kit the night before. Seeing the great pieces first thing in the morning always gets me going. And if you’re still hitting a wall and don’t have the mental strength to get going, sometimes just putting on your workout clothing will get you started. It’s hard not to ride your bike once you’re dressed for it ☺.
Pick your Adventure!
Now that you’re dressed and your own personal spin studio is set up, it’s time to get on the bike. At this point, there are MANY options available, and I would suggest trying a few to figure out what works best for you.
Any of the “smart” trainers I mentioned above are compatible with an assortment of training apps, including Zwift, Trainer Road, Rouvy or SYSTM. These platforms allow you to follow or integrate different training plans, and function on a paid subscription basis. If you’re not interested in paying for a service to train with, you can find some great training videos on YouTube. Workouts, scenic routes, or playlists are all available to stimulate you on the bike. Some people like to watch movies or shows while they ride. Personally, I listen to music or podcasts, depending on what I’m doing that day. I like to use my bike time to get away from a screen, clear my head, and focus on my body.
I plan my workouts ahead of time and use an interval app on my phone when I do different workouts to indicate when I need to adjust the wattage on my trainer. My partner is also a cyclist, and he helps me structure my workouts, but for those people who don’t have their own coach at home, you can find lots of cycling training plans online (many are free). These can be extremely useful if you’re the sort of person who needs a set schedule to follow.
If you’d like to maintain and even build your cycling fitness throughout the winter season, the addition of regular “intensity” to your program is necessary. There is plenty of training advice available in the world but there is no replacement for intervals and intensity; it’s like strength training on your bike. And it will certainly benefit you on the road in the spring.
A couple final points before you embark on your indoor training journey!
- Figure out the time of day that best suits you for training, and schedule it in! Personally, I would rather ride in the morning. It doesn’t always happen, but I know my chances of working out are higher if that is how I kick off my day.
- Treat yourself with grace. Winter in much of Canada is long and riding your bike should never feel like a chore. Experiment with your training environment and develop a plan that allows you to stay motivated! And, if you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. I view my winter training as a continuation of an amazing summer on the bike, and a chance to increase my strength for the next season. Some weeks I am less inspired to ride than others, and that’s OK. I offset my riding with lots of yoga, hiking and cross-country skiing.
- HAVE FUN! And take this time for YOU! Commit to moving your body on your bike, and you will win. Every time.
If you have any questions about indoor training or want to talk to someone doing the same thing, feel free to connect with me on Instagram @tiermecourage. Happy Riding PEPPERMINT Community ☺.