Motivational Tactics on Indoor Trainer

Hi All

I managed to complete my first ever Over Under interval session this morning (Carpathian Park +2 on Sweet Spot volume 2).
Up until this morning (On Sweet Spot volume 1) I’ve always stopped at least 2-3x on the Over Unders.

I train at 6am so never feel overly fired up but getting through this morning was as much mental as it was physical. That got me wondering what ‘tactics’ other people use when their training gets hard…as in If want to stop now’ hard.

My technique is to not have any music for the first 3 intervals meaning I have to listen to the voice in my head. My ‘treat’ for the last interval is to play music that may distract my mind for when it gets really tough. This technique allows me to improve my self talk and remind myself why I’m training…plus there’s the little bonus of getting music soon if I can just hold on.

What is everyone else’s ways of getting them through?

Lately for me a bike race ( road / mtb ) on youtube and music blasting in my ears ( DnB works well … ).


I run Zwift in parallel to TR. There’s always someone I see ahead that I want to overtake, or a spot further I want to get to.

Just do one more interval and see how I feel - it usually leaves me feeling like I have just one more in me (every time).

Also break longer intervals down into minutes and percentages and constantly work out in my head how much is left of that interval, of all intervals until cool down and of the whole workout.

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I have a dumb trainer, so I have to pay attention to my watts.

First, I run Trainerroad for Mac in “small mode” so I can watch something. I split longer (>1 hr) workouts into two parts. In the first part, my “something” is Netflix. In the second part, it’s a race on youtube, especially one I’m going to participate in the upcoming season.

I’ve found that watching TV somewhat increases my RPE (the TR guys have hypothesised in the podcast that it’s about cognitive load - the brain getting tired doing several things at once). But just watching a race or listening to music for a long time can be a bit boring. Also, nothing, I repeat nothing beats an action scene (preferably a shootout or a chase) during a VO2max repeat. That’s when RPE definitely goes down rather than up.

I was testing a smart trainer today and watched Netflix all the way during a 90-minute workout (Spruce Knob, or 2x30’ at 85%, so somewhat challenging but not the worst).

For triathletes and time trialists, if you train on your aerobars, then a “reward” in the form of a minute or two an upright position is something to look forward to, particularly in the winter, when lying down all the time is maybe not so critical. These days I split my longer reps into 7 minutes aero / 3 minutes upright. All of a sudden, 30 minutes becomes 7+3+7+3+7+3 minutes. My head is so eternally grateful.

I also train in the morning before breakfast, so I know what you mean. I treat myself to some sugar if the going gets tough. It is hard for me to do Gray (2x20 minutes are 100% FTP). Also, I break the monotony by e. g. varying my cadence or body position. Oh, and the harder it gets, the more I need good music.

But overall these are just versions of the same coping mechanism you are already employing: you are splitting up the workout into more manageable chunks and bargain with yourself.

If you can’t do the intervals, period, try to improve your nutrition and make sure you have had some coffee before your workout.

OreoCookie - Just looked up Gray and it looks a horrible workout! Intense and completely steady state giving your mind plenty of time to think you should stop. At least with Carpathian +2 every minute it changes which makes it far easier to break the workout into mini chunks.
Thankfully I don’t think that is on my plan so it’ll be a while till I come face to face with that workout!

I used to always listen to music to help me but stopped for a while as was worried I would damage my hearing long term. I found that purely by chance I now often seem to block out the music if I play it from the start. It does mean I have to listen to my internal self dialogue the whole time though and boy do I go on and on and on lol

For any workout that I know is going to be a challenge I do it exactly the same way every time so my mindset is ready for “battle.”

-Most of the lights out in the room
-Race footage on the screen in front of me
-blasting a specific playlist designated only for hard workouts
-nutrition in reach and ready with a gameplan of exactly when/what I’m using throughout the workout (primarily rest intervals)

I find no matter how sore or unmotivated I may feel, as soon as I start my mind goes to that zone of anticipated suffering and accepts it. Usually by the end I’m fired up and stoked.

I purposely only do this for the “hard” workouts though. Everything else is usually podcasts, tv shows, chill music etc.
That way when I’m ON, I’m ON

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Well, it is a great workout, just not an easy one. In some sense, it is a workout for the mind that teaches you how to and that you can deal with holding 100 % of your FTP for that long. But I re-did it just before a hill climb, and it gave me all the confidence I needed to stick to my pace just at the limit.

Same here.

Most of my training happens in the am. Though I have learned that some workouts (like Over/Unders) just need to be done in the afternoon. I am more awake, warmed up, and mentally prepared for the suffering.

I pretty much do the same as @Boombang dividing my workout and doing some math.
And when i’m getting close to the end of the workout I count my pedalstroke and try to know how many I need more before closing the interval.

I have a dumb trainer and find I need to constantly focus on my power target particularly during SS and Threshold intervals so just listen to a workout album on spotify. I don’t think I could manage this focus if I was distracted by netflix, youtube or even Zwift. If Im doing endurance riding which dont require the same level of focus then I will watch previous bike races on youtube.