Ok, so by now you know that I finally got a trainer, and I had some interesting experiences, most very good, but some, not so. As with everything new in life, a trainer also has a learning curve. My friends know that I am the analytical kind of a guy, which means I did plenty of on-line and in-store research. However, some things you simply can’t research. For example, what it feels like when you sit atop your bike strapped to the trainer for the first time and start pedaling! Weird!!!
But NO, don’t get me wrong, not weird in a bad way, it is a weird as in – why am I not moving forward? Weird as in – am I doing this right? Weird as in – how does this effort translate into real riding? Weird as in – what gear should I be in? Weird as in – for how hard and how long should I pedal? Weird as in – how do I measure my effort? Weird as in – why does my Garmin Edge just cycle on and off without recording any data?
OK – by now you should have a feel for the little things I went trough as a newbie, and you rightfully ask: “so what are the answers?” In no particular order these are my ‘a-ha’ moments (I marked the things I thought you might have already with $ and those I think you might have to buy with $$$):
- when you first get onto your new trainer, just get comfy – spin easy, and YES, you can use your shifters
- $$$ if you own a Garmin cycling device you will need to TURN OFF GPS ( I don’t know about other brands), and your device will become an invaluable tool to track your heart rate and cadence
- in the first couple of sessions, keep it to 45 minutes max and just get familiar with the trainer; i.e. experiment and see the difference of spinning, lets say in the big gear and a 15 cog in the back, at 70 rpm, at 80 rpm, at 90 rpm and so on…. you will be surprised by the change of resistance (disclaimer: I have a fluid trainer, thus – the higher the cadence the more resistance)
- $ you NEED ventilation (and lots of it – a tall fan is a perfect choice)
- No PLAN – no WORKOUT
- Do NOT workout hopping on a trainer just spinning – (I know this is repetitious) – but you need a workout plan a.k.a. training DVD
- $ speaking of DVD – whatever floats your boat or budget, you need either a little DVD player, or a laptop, or a TV or a big screen in front of your setup
- $$$ no sense of having the above equipment without a training DVD – so you will need one (well, to avoid boredom, more than one)
- $$$ now that you are training with a plan you will literally sweat buckets – protect your floor with a training mat under neath your setup; a lot cheaper than replacing your carpet or oak floor
- $ use your Garmin ( or Polar etc), if you don’t have one train by “perceived effort” on a scale of 1- 5
- $$$ get yourself a training DVD you can enjoy, and one which comes with a training plan. My personal favorite company is epicRides
- $ listening to workout music on your iPod, iPhone, BB or whatever really will help (my favorite workout music is a free download from Podrunner – incredible workout tunes)
- follow the workout instructions from your DVD – interval training is all about its jacked up to be
- it is OK to feel your muscles screaming
- it is OK to STAND up in your trainer
- it is OK to SCREAM
- it is NOT OK to give up
- track your training and know the level of effort (gears you are using)
- $ have your drink bottles on your bike – you will need them
- just like on the road – hydrate!!!!!
- $$$ a spare wheel with a training tire is very handy but not needed
- $$$ a climbing (or stabilizing) block is very helpful, a climbing block will hold your front wheel in place, while giving you the option of a downhill-, even- or climbing simulation
Earlier I stated that there was some disappointment, and I wanted to let you know what it was, and most importantly, that it was only temporary. And the disappointment was created by inexperience; getting on the trainer without knowing what to do. Just sitting there, spinning, minute after minute, no music, no exercise plan, not going anywhere – the first couple of times, were simply discouraging.
I am so thankful to Alan Jones ( @epicplanet on Twitter) , producer of epicRides for an incredible series of inspirational and breath taking DVD’s of truly stunning rides. The structure and training instructions supporting these epic rides, sets my indoor riding sessions apart. I am likely in the minority when I say that I look forward to my training sessions. Do you?