Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Once upon a time winter in New England conjured up images of snow-covered country roads and hot chocolate by a toasty fire. Now, as a triathlete in training in New England, the image is much different. Now I imagine how I'm going to get through all of these indoor trainer rides without burning out before I get back on the roads in March/April?
My solution? Invest in a SMART trainer. We bought a refurbished Wahoo KIKR Snap, which I adore. I've had several trainers (and rollers) in my cycling career, and the Wahoo offers a consistently smooth ride. Why buy a SMART trainer? SMART trainers allow you the flexibility to use a training application like Zwift or manually adjust the trainer through the Wahoo app using different modes like the ERG mode and resistance. The Wahoo app offers data like speed, distance, workout time, and power.
One of the major benefits of a SMART trainer is that it can be integrated with a training application. There are many applications to choose from. I use Zwift, which is a large multiplayer ‘game’ where you cycle in the virtual cities of Richmond, London, or New York, France or Watopia. There are sometimes thousands of other cyclists riding at the same time as you from all over the globe, which I find motivating as there is someone always pushing you to go just a little bit harder. Zwift offers a variety of workouts and rides around volcanoes, through underwater tunnels, through cities, and the countryside with some gnarly hill climbing options. There are also group ride options. I often see cycling and triathlon teams cycling together for training rides and workouts. Zwift also recently added in a virtual running option as well. Zwift, like several other applications offer a free 7-day trial so you can determine if this is the right program for you. And if you're looking for more motivation, there's the option of giving and receiving what is called a ride on 👍🏼 from fellow cyclists during your ride. The more ride ons you get, the bigger the back pockets of your jersey grow.
Other training applications include: Trainer Road, The Sufferfest, Rouvy, Erg Video, Hurts Ergo, Kinomap and more. Many of these apps, including Zwift automatically sync your training data to your TrainingPeaks account. Many of these applications will automatically upload your data to Strava and Garmin as well. To find out more detailed information about training applications, check out DC Rainmaker.
What do you need to support a SMART trainer and an online training app? An ANT stick and a cadence sensor; a tablet or a SMART phone or Apple TV or a laptop. I use my MacBook Air, which I put on a Quik Lok Laptop Holder (purchased through Amazon). An optional piece of equipment (which I use) is a heart rate monitor, as many of the applications offer heart rate data as well.
In addition to using Zwift, I also listen to music, watch movies, documentaries, and tv series. I usually mix all of these up as some times I'm on the trainer for upwards of 2.5 hours/session. I have found Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to be invaluable during these winter training months.
Television series that make the trainer sessions fly by:
Mindhunter The Assassination of Gianni Versace
Ozark Nurse Jackie
House of Cards Luther
Stranger Things Dexter
Parenthood Breaking Bad
SOA The Newsroom
The Sopranos The Following
Divorce Friends from College
The Fall The People vs. OJ Simpson
Bloodline American Crime
What fellow triathletes have watched:
The Crown Game of Thrones
The Killing Longmire
X Files Blacklist
Vikings Marvelous Miss. Mazel
Wentworth Call the Midwife
A few additional tools that I have found invaluable are a sound bar and Apple tv. The sound bar helps amplify the audio from whatever I'm watching over the noise of the trainer and the fan — and music sounds divine on it. Apple tv offers me other options like iTunes so I can manage and select music — and also project video from my laptop onto the tv and through the sound bar.
Indoor training can definitely get a bit tedious by February and like many of you, I'm ready to be back out on the roads. I remind myself often that indoor training is temporary and perhaps more importantly, it's helping me to prepare mentally (and physically) for whatever comes my way during race season. NOTE: Many of the tools I've mentioned here can be applied to treadmill running as well.
Now, it's time to kick back in front of that toasty fire and find movies for this week's training. Happy training!