Fast Talk Episode 60, Indoor Training

A couple of things from the podcast that bother me.

First, they make a big deal of Matt Haymans use of Zwift to prep for Roubaix the year he won it. Apparently, it was only 3.5 weeks he was on Zwift unable to go outdoors. I don’t think 3.5 weeks on an indoor trainer was going to have much impact on his condition other than maintaining condition. More likely he wasn’t outside killing himself on the road so he went into the race extremely fresh. Second they mentioned something like vascular flow improving indoors due to the warmer conditions. If that is the case, why aren’t all riders from warmer climates, so much better than northerners?

I’m not sure there was much in that podcast of any use other than Tim Johnson’s warming about long indoor rides in the pre-season.

Edit to add link to the podcast page:


What’s up with long indoor rides in the pre-season?

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Basically, Tim was cautioning against panic training. He noticed that people who killed themselves on the trainer in the winter generally left the sport due to mental fatigue. What he suggested is using the trainer to do key sessions, and doing the long slow distance stuff outdoors, or replacing it with CC skiing or another activity.

This podcast really bugged me.

Why is a guy like Case, who admitted to only having done 25 trainer rides in his entire life, giving any sort of opinion on trainers?

What is wrong with Connor, who still apparently races as a Cat 1/Pro, that he can barely make it through an hour on the trainer? HTFU, seriously.

Why is it assumed that multiple hour trainer rides will automatically lead to huge burnout later in the season? I did a 3 hour endurance ride on Saturday and felt absolutely fine. It didn’t require some huge mental feat on my part or for me to go to some dark place. I just cruised along at .7 IF while I watched a college football game. Got off once to pee. I was tired at the end, but I think that’s generally to be expected after a 3 hour ride.


I must admit I feel similar. However, I don’t take the FT show very serious. I like the Velonews show though.

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For me, it is either ride the trainer 5-6 months out of the year or take up a different sport. Sure it is possible but I am not riding in the dark on icy roads. If I lived in Boulder and had a flexible work schedule, things would be different.

As for the boredom thing, cyclists on trainers have it easy. Anyone who has a hard time getting through a 1 hour trainer ride should try competitive swimming where a typical day is 2-4 hours of almost complete sensory deprivation :wink: My seat gets sore after about 1.5 hours so I get limiting the long rides for that reason but as for being bored, how can anyone complain about being bored if you can watch TV and/or listen to music?

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There is a huge difference in looking at power numbers on an SRM or Powertap head unit hacking times for intervals riding rollers compared to TR paired to a smart trainer in erg mode. Not too long ago that’s all we had. Nobody liked it. It still sucks and mentally just not worth it if you can do the work outside. This is exactly the context that started the podcast. The whole Tim Johnson exchange was from 4 years ago…

Towards the end of the podcast, Trevor Connor even admits he likes Zwift and the whole podcast ended with huge support in favor of indoor training and modern platforms like TR and Zwift.

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I only listened to about 20 minutes of it this morning before I had to leave the house for work, but I found myself disagreeing with some of their ideas too, mostly around the burnout/mental fatigue setting in later on in season. I’m finding more and more questioning the facts that are presented generally on FT lately. Not sure if it means I’m getting dumber or they’re getting dumber though.

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My read was that Connor likes Zwift because it replicates riding outdoors. I guess my point is that riding on your trainer doesn’t have to be like riding outside in order for it to be enjoyable.


Agreed. I could never watch a movie while trying to hold power (whether LSD or intervals) just looking at head unit. Music was mandatory though. As an old guy who started on rollers doing it and hating the old way I really enjoy TR. If my life were perfect I’d do 3 workouts during the week and get my social fix in with either races or group rides on the week end. Monday and Friday totally off.

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Warning: Long post to follow.

0:08:30, they correctly mention the presence of issues from the static nature of most trainers.

  • I think they point to rollers as an option, which is great. However, they miss the obvious consideration of the Kinetic Rock and Roll that has been around for many years. Not to mention the expansion of motion in trainers from rocker plates.
  • This is one example of how they seemingly do very little research for some topics. I also blame Kinetic for falling short on marketing and education about trainers and advantages of adding motion. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a big improvement for many riders.
  • There… with my usually rocker sermon out of the way, we can continue :stuck_out_tongue:

0:10:30, they mention inertial load.

  • It’s great, because with the expansion of smart controlled trainers and the associated use of ERG mode, there are reasons to experiment with gearing. We can have our cake and eat it too by using the flexibility of gearing and inertia options to meet our needs.
  • That overall topic of gearing and flywheel inertia has shown up in this forum 3 times in as many days (as well as many in the past). It’s a sign that we need to continue education about ERG mode options and how best to take advantage of them.
  • This basic point (using trainers and their inherent differences as advantages, rather than considering them pure disadvantages) is one that is missed routinely in this podcast.
  • They seem to point to the negative aspects of indoor training and those rare exceptions as impending "DANGER" that gives a sour taste to the podcast throughout, even though they end with generally reasonable conclusions and recommendations.

0:15:30 & 0:21:00, they touch on differences from inside and outside riding, cooling and such. I don’t think they covered it with enough emphasis to help people recognize they can control a fair bit of their training environment.

  • The simple focus on maximizing airflow and cooling can transform a training experience.

0:28:00, the first of many unwarranted "warnings about the dangers" associated with long rides inside. Good grief… where to start?

  • Again, they miss the potential advantage of using a trainer vs riding outdoors. They correctly mention the fact that trainer rides can be much more controlled and steady when compared to outside.
  • But instead of looking for the advantage in that difference, they use it as a negative and offer a warning about not doing the "dreaded long ride" inside.
  • How about the fact that I can condense a 3-4 hour outside ride (with stops, starts, irregular roads, hills, etc.) into much more CONTROLLED and EFFICIENT workout of 2-3 hours in length?
  • I know the specifics aren’t set as to overall efficiency comparison (inside > outside), but there is a notable opportunity to condense a ride to into a shorter overall time inside, while getting all of the desired training stimulus, in less time than is needed to do the same outside. Totally unscientific, but I think you can generally consider doing an inside ride of 80-90% the total time compared to outside ride time.
  • Make full use of the absolute control afforded by the trainer instead of criticizing it. It’s a tool, as they correctly state, and understanding that tool for all it can and cannot do is important if you want to use it to the fullest.

0:44:20, The speaker (Tim?) says he has done 2-minute intervals max (maybe 10 mins he goes on with as a ‘maybe’), and up to a 3 hours max for inside, if he split it up. Tim goes on to say he only does varied work with nothing “steady”.

  • Wow, great job getting people versed on indoor training. This theme of under-informed and under-experienced people commenting on this topic is almost laughable.

0:46:00, the main guest actually states that he as not used Zwift himself.

  • What? Seriously? Great… let’s get this guy who is quite smart, but lacks experience to comment on the product/topic… nice :confused:
  • Trevor pops in with his generally negative trainer comments, but then concedes to actually enjoying it. This attitude was all too prevalent in the past, but obviously still persists with the likes of the “true” cyclist.

0:50:00, Danger again, about too much intensity coming from excessive Zwift racing.

  • I totally agree on this. People get hooked on the fun and challenge of the racing, but spend too much time chasing hard. It seems to lead to quick gains, but also stagnation if not reined in and set to some sort of planned schedule.

0:54:00, Another warning about not doing steady-state work at low intensity, like Z1 POL.

  • They touch on the possible mental strain and saddle comfort as the main problems. However, they ignore the opportunity to easily address those issues.
  • Mental strain can be covered well with great distractions via Zwift, movies, music, reading or anything else a person finds worthwhile. It is easy to adapt one or more of these entertainments into the “dreaded long ride inside”.
  • Saddle comfort is easily addressed by adding in frequent standing breaks for one. Get up and stretch every 5-10 minutes. It’s something that happens outside frequently just from the nature of the ride and things like intersections and hills. We just need to think a bit more about it inside.
  • Consider adding a rocker plate for comfort via the added motion.
  • Then consider the fact that the long rides in TR have built in steps with subtle resistance changes for one thing. Add in the technique drills like endurance spins, single leg focus, and such as great ways to alter loading on the body and keep the ride interesting.
  • Pretty easy and simple solutions to a “dangerous problem”.

0:56:00, Another trainer warning about “balance”. Trevor claims an issue about trainers leading to loss of balance. He points to a specific incident in a race, and the SPECULATES it’s from trainer-only use.

  • Great journalistic approach there. No need to do any research and find out what REALLY happened. Let’s all assume we know because we have a bias. Solid research and reporting there, Trevor. :confused:

0:58:00, They touch on the idea of keeping to 5-6 hours per week for trainer sessions.

  • Great idea. I wonder if anyone has ever considered that range of use?
  • Of course, it’s about making smart and planned choices.
  • I don’t remember if it’s in this segment, but Trevor again points to the 15+ hour per week example as the “problem” of indoor training. He ignores the fact that anyone doing that is almost certainly the EXCEPTION and not the rule of trainer users.
  • I did 9-10 hours in my POL training, and that was OK, but way more than just about anyone I know would be willing to tolerate.
  • Point being that trying to scare people away from trainer use by giving extreme examples like that is just silly and totally irresponsible. “Normal” people will not spend close to that 15 hour example on a trainer.

0:59:00, Kevin is the most educated and balanced voice on the cast. He should have been featured more. He correctly points to time management as one key advantage of the trainer.

  • Ironically, Kevin only got this exposure because he and MH were forced to. But that experience broke through their old stereotypical opinions about trainers and inside training. Happily, he sees the benefits of using it as part of a balanced approach that also includes outside riding.
  • It’s a point that should have been emphasized more and recognized for the great advantage that it offers.

They end with some fine conclusions, but wasted air on unnecessary warnings, excessive focus on “how bad it used to be” and wasting the opportunity to look at making the absolute best use of the tool. They touch on good things, but leave them quickly compared to the emphasis on the “bad” aspects of indoor training.


I think you pretty much nailed it with this post and I don’t have to much to add to what you’ve so cogently presented here.

In general, my biggest pet peeve with the Fast Talk guys is how entrenched in orthodoxy these guys constantly are. That’s not to say that orthodoxy can’t be right sometimes, but they really do not approach any of the issues on their podcast with any real sense of intellectual curiosity at all.

Also, they lost a lot of credibility with me after they released their Normatech infomercial on compression.

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Precisely. You can hear the perfect example when Trevor comments on his reaction to the content shared by Kevin from his presentation at the conference. Trevor admits to preconceived notion about what Kevin would cover. That shows the general thing that Trevor displays in so many of their casts.

We all have opinions formed from experience (direct and observed), but he typifies the example of someone who is set in their ways until something clear and undeniable is placed at their feet. I like that he has apparently made some concessions and is more open to indoor training. But so many of his comments stink of old mentalities that it’s hard to appreciate the positive admissions he does actually make.

It is another example where Chris and Trevor fell short in their prep for the show. They are admittedly NOT experts on the topic and did a less than stellar job of getting people fully into the topic. Even the somewhat marketing based mentions from the Zwift rep were better and more balanced than the content and slightly derogatory comments from the presenters.

I want to like the show and they are covering topics that are very worth discussing. But they just fall short again, IMHO.

They failed to mention the single biggest benefit that indoor trainers have for the average cyclist. Indoor training has been and continues to be how a huge number of rank and file amateurs get introduced to structured interval training. The podcast guests and hosts are coming at this from the perspective of higher end athletes who have coaches and regularly do interval training outdoors. For them, a trainer is just a somewhat more uncomforatble and boring way of doing what they are already doing. Other than staying out of the weather, the trainer does not bring much new to the table for those folks. But for most of the rest of us, getting on the trainer and hooking up with a workout tool ends up being a truly transformative experience.


Awesome point, @STP.

I did 13hrs on the trainer last week and one of those rides I was listening to this very podcast. Admittedly I do believe I hit my limit on what I can handle in a week. Another funny thing is I have rode with Trevor in a group ride on Zwift. I gave him a shout out when I realized I was virtually riding next to him. I thought it was pretty cool riding with him at the time. I enjoy their podcast but must admit this one bothered me a little because I spend so much time indoors and the tone came across a little negative.

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Couldn’t make it more than 15’.

The opening discussion about Trevor riding the trainer for 13-15 hours a week and being burned out isn’t a trainer issue, its an ill advised issue.

I was listening more for what the sports scientist had to say, everything else was difficult to get through. Too much agenda and negativity for me. Unsubscribed.

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Honestly, listen to the whole thing. Trevor was talking about his bad experiences ‘back in the day’ when he was being advised poorly. His opinion of modern trainers and the way they are used has changes markedly.


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Sure, but they spent far too much time on the “how bad it used to be” junk when they could have focused on the good ways to use them. Trevor always has to give some maybe interesting (but largely useless) bit of info that has little if any bearing on the “normal” people who listen to their stuff in hopes of learning useful info.

Their motto is “Let’s make your faster…” or something like that, and they left plenty of room for improvement on that front. They touch on several good aspects, but wasted too much air time on crap that added no value, and could have done a much better job, IMHO. They spend too much time on the “pro” side of life without really considering the impact or needs on regular people with non-pro lifestyles.

They effectively made an “OK” podcast when it could have been “GREAT”. Missed opportunity, again, as they seem to do with some frequency on FT.

I guess I am spoiled at the great depth and consideration we get from the TR AACC podcast.

I actually thought it was quite a balanced view listening through a second time.

This may sound controversial to say this on here but I actually think that the Ask a Cycling Coach podcast is getting poorer in quality these days. There’s just too much fluff and not enough focus. They need have a few more deep dives rather than continually answering questions about which trading plan should I do… I know its hard after 180 odd episodes to keep things fresh but maybe a longer focus on a few questions each week would be great.