Most of my sessions are under 1.5 hours. Longest straight I’ve done is I think 2.5 hours. Training for unbound when weather was crap I did do a sort of all day session but it was 45 minutes on. 15 minutes off for 6 hours. Under 1.5 hours I’m usually fine. Over that I start getting antsy.
I usually watch TV during long endurance sessions indoors. The gravel road I live on has a 6 in layer of ice and there is a foot of snow on the ground. Currently watching Foyle’s War, a British crime show.
I’ll put these in order of how big a difference I think they make for me:
Anything 2 hours or longer get off the bike every hour. Go to the bathroom, refill bottles, ect. I keep these to less than 2 minutes. Look forward to these breaks not end of ride.
Watch something interesting on TV that has me excited. This time of year I do my ride during whatever football game is most exciting to me and ride the whole game.
Stay hydrated and focus on my fueling so I’m thinking more about that and less about how much time I have left.
I haven’t done this yet so I’ll put it last on my list for that reason. I see lots of merit using a rocker plate for comfort. Plan to be building one soon as most Sundays during the winter I do either a 3 or 4 hour ride on the trainer and biggest issue is comfort.
I almost exclusively do two and three hour workouts. A few things that have helped me:
- Working my way to longer workouts. After doing a few two-hour workouts, a ninety-minute one feels easy; after doing a few three-hour workouts, a two-hour one feels routine.
- Workouts with rest intervals feel easier. For example, Chocorua feels mentally easier to me than Big Mountain; the rest intervals make it easier to break it up mentally (the fact that Chocorua’s work intervals are themselves broken up in 5-6 minute intervals also helps).
- Taking a short break of 5 minutes or so off the bike, once an hour, helps a lot. I usually use the opportunity to stretch a little, use the bathroom, refill bottles, etc.
- Looking at the workout makes it feel longer, so I run TR on my laptop off to my side, mute it, and turn down the screen brightness or put a towel on the screen so I’m not constantly looking at the screen.
- There’s nothing that will help mentally if you’re in pain, so invest in a bike fit and/or a good saddle. I got an S-Works Power Mirror saddle and it was worth every penny.
- The Lord of the Rings extended editions are a godsend.
TV. I get tons of value from my Netflix and HBO subscriptions.
Stand up pretty frequently to give sitbones a break.
Good bibs and saddle.
Lots of sugar!
I played around with a cheap rocker plate a couple years ago. May go back to it. Getting off the bike for a couple minutes makes sense.
Obvious answers are of course TV, Netflix, YouRube, etc. if doing higher intensity workouts, music instead of TV. Watching the TR podcast instead of just listening to it is great, too.
I also run Zwift concurrently as TR, so I am constantly switching back and forth between watching the TV or Zwift.
Doing a long ride w/ a big group on Zwift is also very distracting. Do the BMTR Saturday AM rides….a few hundred people will join you.
Mostly, it is a mental thing. I always like it to a little kid on a long drive….the first half hour is “are we there? Are we there yet? How much longer?” But at some point, their will breaks and they settle in. You just need to have your “will broken” and get past the mental barrier of time. Just keep adding more and more onto a weekly ride, 10-15 min at a time.
Carbs, carbs, carbs. And carbs.
For me, breaking the session into smaller 15-30 minute pieces works well. If I’m doing say, a 3 hour endurance ride, it could look like:
- 30 minute progressive warm up, ending a bit higher than my ride average power
- 20 second “sprint” (not all-out, just to get a good feeling)
- 3x5 minutes, each step a bit higher power than previous
- 30 second easy sprint (as described above)
- 5x5 minutes with varying power
- 2x20 second easy sprints, 3 min between
- 10 minutes easy, then 3x5 minutes varying power
- 30 second easy sprint
… and so on, until I hit 3h mark.
This way, I always have something to look forward to. The workout naturally breaks into 20-30 minute pieces which are way more palatable than a big 3 hour block of grinding. Small variations in power (5 min intervals) also keep things a bit more engaging. You can also add some skillwork, like cadence drills, into the workout.
And Netflix, of course.
This. Long endurance rides when weather is great are often the coffee ride. You coast a bit, you stop at a light, etc. You take a break and grab coffee somewhere. Who does long rides without these little breaks? Not realistic.
Take breaks inside and long rides are all of sudden less ridiculous and more doable.
Gotta say +1 to not looking at the workout. Erg mode on my phone with the screen off + RGT full screen on the big monitor in front of me is making a difference this year.
And you can normalize and adapt to anything over time. 2.5hrs is my normal now.
As others have said, plan your entertainment for the whole ride… Netflix etc. Take bathroom breaks, stand up on the pedals when needed to give the sitbones a rest, double down on getting a comfortable saddle (you may need a different one than you use outdoors). Build up to your long rides carefully don’t bite off more than you can chew. You’ll eventually get accustomed to it.
Lots of good advice above that I also adhere to. On HV plans I substitute Sundays for 3 hour z2 workouts. In addition to good entertainment and getting a fresh cold water bottle out of the fridge every hour, I pedal out of the seat for 1 min in between intervals to mix things up and get the blood flowing. You need to find ways to chunk up the workout and getting off the bike, standing, nutrition every “x” minutes has you always working towards and completing the next step. The mind likes checking boxes so give it plenty of boxes to check along the way.
Like other aspects of training, they get easier with practice. By doing more of them, and slowly increasing the length, you train your brain to keep itself entertained and not freak out when it’s not constantly receiving entertainment.
I’m usually pretty tolerant of indoor training if I work my way into it, but I do think I’m going to experiment with this. Even though I can ride a long time inside I do notice the saddle bothering me more. Those “green” selle italia saddles have a nice cutout and a probably more padding than I use outside. Kinda heavy but they’re not too expensive to try out and my trainer bike doesn’t even have brakes anymore, so just for indoors.
1 thing I try to be aware of is to never let myself get hungry.
AND most importantly is to NOT have something to look forward to after. it just makes the waiting til the end so much harder
I built this workout for exactly this purpose:
It breaks up the workout into digestible chunks… it helps me only look at the workout in 20 or 10 minute chunks. I have different versions for 2:30 and 3:00 rides.
Also, watching old bike races (Flanders, Roubaix) while listening to either a podcast or music helps me. For some reason I like having different stimuli visually and audibly. I run the races on my ipad, the podcast/music from my iPhone and I run TR off a laptop.
I ride a lot inside. I’m doing 3.5hrs right now. I watch soccer on the weekend, YouTube whatever and it keeps my mind busy
Well today I just had an unstructured indoor ride. I only did 1:20 which was plenty. I listened to a TR podcast and joined a race on the RGT Cycling app. I didn’t really race I just jump on the wheels of other races or bots at whatever pace I felt like at that moment. And boy or boy my drive train needs cleaning. lol. In erg mode it rarely matters but in sim mode it was noisy.
Yep, my brain prefers the long Z2 that’s broken up into 14/15 mins segments than ones with long 20/30/40 minute stretches. Longfellow is an example that springs to mind.