By Bill Plock
What has felt like a forced spring break has come to a screeching halt as Winter returns just as it’s about to officially end. As bike paths empty and folks head indoors to workout at home, what will your training look like? What motivates you, and how do you stay motivated to train or even work up a good sweat?
Let’s talk about motivation. I offer you this perspective from teaching indoor cycling classes for 15 years and being an athlete who has been coached and understands the methods of training. As the owner of 303Endurance, I meet a lot of coaches and experts and equipment manufacturers with goals to help people be more fit. I also have progressed from owning a stationary bike with no feedback to now owning a smart trainer and using Zwift. I feel very qualified to speak about all spectrums of indoor training. I do not claim to be a coach, and this article is not about specific coaching modalities that result in individual fitness gains.
Generally, I find there seems to be two types of motivations to train or workout. One is to feel like you are doing something healthy and good for you. This might come with a subset of goals such as weight loss, or weight maintenance, or feeling good about oneself or justifying that beer. To feel good in your underwear or swimsuit is a legitimate reason to hop on that indoor trainer!
The other motivation, I believe, is that of improving one’s fitness for a specific reason like a race or endurance event. A person can have both motives, but the latter requires specific workouts, things like interval training, or workouts structured around heart rate and power and pace.
In some ways, training outside is harder if you are following specific goals such a heart rate and power because of variable terrain and traffic controls. But simple motivation like climbing a hill or riding a route or to a location (like a really good coffee shop) makes it is easy to stay motivated riding or running outside.
In this time of uncertainty with events postponing or canceling, it might be challenging to train correctly. But in yesterday’s article by Alison Freeman, (link HERE)there are some excellent training tips to doing this in this new, hopefully, temporary era.
Here at the 303, we have a team that can offer you ideas on training and expertise on using everything from a heart rate monitor to a Saris H3 smart trainer. We can show you how to use Zwift, or incorporate a device like the new Leomo S3 motion capturing device to give you precise feedback on your power and body position.
Stay tuned for a series of articles to address different types of training and devices over the next couple of weeks—we too have kids home from school and need to stand in line for toilet paper!
To kick things off, here are some ideas if you want to get on your indoor bike, trainer, or treadmill, and all you have is some music, Netflix, or DVD player. In a general sense, remember that your variables are four basic things: cadence, resistance, time, and effort. Speed, power, heart rate, and exertion are all results of varying any of those variables. Yes, positions like standing versus sitting can affect effort because of inefficiencies.
- Commit to how long you will ride (or run on a treadmill). You can let a show, movie or event, be your clock too. In the past, I have used sporting events with variable time to push me with an unknown—say half a football game with more or less 90 minutes. But it’s cool not to have a clock time to use to keep it interesting.
- One of my most popular spin classes was when I used a video concert to drive the class. My favorite is U2 Go Home, filmed at Slane Castle in Ireland. The energy of live music can be very inspiring. Let yourself follow the beat, so to speak and push when you feel inspired and relax when maybe the music takes a mellow path. Most concerts have both kinds of energy, go with the flow.
- Speaking of music, don’t overthink music. Don’t look for music with a specific beat or a certain length. When I taught spin, I was a bit unconventional in that I didn’t time songs. I tried to find songs with good energy that I liked for whatever reason. As a teacher, I think my energy that partly came from picking music I loved was contagious. Music is a powerful thing. Pick songs you love for any reason; it will motivate you a lot more than picking songs just because they have a good beat.
- The above said, you might also consider a long set of electronic, no lyric, high energy music that at first almost sounds annoying. Still, if you allow yourself to let go, to give in to the beat, you might find it very inspiring and motivating.
- Use a word or phrase of a show to dictate an interval. For example, throw on an old classic show like Cheers. Every time they say, “Norm,” you have to do a 30-second sprint or something like that. Have some fun with this.
- I hate lifting weights, so sometimes I like to set the resistance almost at its highest (without causing knee pain) and start pedaling or walking/running at a relaxed pace. Give yourself time, like 30 minutes and don’t do anything but keep that pace. Over time with heavy resistance, you will see your heart rate slowly go up, and you will build a good sweat, but it won’t exhaust you cardiovascularly. You will feel really good, your legs will feel heavy like you did a weight lifting routine, and you will work up a good sweat and feel like you accomplished something. I would not recommend doing this for more than 30 minutes. Be sure to spin it out a bit on a cool down with low resistance.
- Do cadence drills with resistance as your variable. Warm-up for 10 minutes or so and find your natural “flat road” cadence. Then build in intervals changing the resistance but keeping your cadence. Maybe you do an interval of 30 seconds, rest a minute or two, and then do another. Perhaps increase the interval and add rest that is twice as long as the increase in effort. So, for example, you push for 30 seconds and rest for a minute. Then you add 30 seconds of pushing, and your rest becomes two minutes, and so forth. Sometimes I like to keep the rest period fixed and increase the push effort. If you keep the rest say 30 seconds and increase intervals in increments of 15 seconds up to two minutes of pushing, I can almost guarantee you will max your heart rate. If you are going for this type of effort, doing something like this is more interesting and achievable than merely pushing yourself as hard as you can for say four minutes.
- Do an easy spin for a long time to a movie or documentary that you haven’t seen but completely engrosses you mentally. Long easy efforts are very good for overall endurance training, and if you find something to occupy your mind, it’s an easy way to pass the time.
- Set a mood. Back to my spin teaching days. I sometimes would use Christmas lights, fake candles, disco balls, whatever to create a mood. Get creative!
- Invite a friend to join you virtually and keep each other accountable even through texting. Maybe you watch the same show. Or take turns texting each other a new interval to try. Maybe even FaceTime and share music. Again, get creative.