Most of us will find ourselves inside for at least some of our training. We train indoors for various reasons: bad weather, safety, or to mimic race-specific terrain. While indoor training may lack the stimulus of the beauty of the outdoors, it provides some key advantages that we can maximize our performance benefit.
Thanks to advances in technology, such as smart trainers and group training apps, indoor training can even be fun. Say what?! However, using these sorts of apps doesn’t guarantee that you are maximizing your time and using the indoors tools to their greatest benefit.
Every training tool has advantages to help us achieve the goals we seek. The same is true for the bike trainer or the treadmill. Rather than lamenting what indoor training lacks, let’s focus on what indoor training adds. Indoor training:
- It creates the opportunity to train through stretches of bad weather that make outdoor training tricky at best, or unsafe and impossible at worst.
- It saves time, as we don’t have to prepare gear for outdoor riding or running. Just hop on the treadmill or trainer and go! This can be especially important on work days, allowing us to spend our limited time training, instead of preparing.
- It allows us to train safely. I coach quite a few athletes who do not have safe options if they leave from their home. So, by training indoors they are able to safely execute their workouts – while also saving time from needing to drive to the start of a bike or run route.
- It provides an interruption-free environment so we can nail the workout for the day. No worrying about stop signs, cars, non-race specific terrain – we can dial in what we need, and get the right work done.
- It gives the opportunity to mimic race-specific terrain. For example, if you live in the flatlands, you can use indoor training apps to mimic hilly routes or increase the incline on the treadmill for hill repeats. (I wrote a piece for TrainingPeaks previously that gives you some workout options for this type of training).
- Conversely, if you live in hilly lands, you can spend some time on “flat” ground through a steady-state ride or a 0 percent incline on the treadmill.
When it comes to cycling, smart trainers and indoor riding apps, such as Zwift, have helped quite a bit with the boredom. While it’s fun to participate in the events, you also want to make certain that your training is working toward the specific adaptations you seek in order to achieve your goals for the season.