Struggles with Indoor Training

This is on behalf of a friend. He is a very social, highly competitive person by nature. He is struggling with the TR workouts, primarily because it completely eliminates any interaction with others… its just you and your bike. Even in the old Computrainer classes, he would have other people to chat with and compete against. The only comparable workouts are long runs or rides by himself. But he would avoid those by grabbing a buddy to go with. He’s training for a full Ironman. Never having done one or even seen one, my perception is that he will have long stretches of being on his own, but he believes in a race scenario, there’s always someone to catch up to.

So here’s the question… Does anyone have tips to help him conquer this mental block of being able to train in the absence of any social interaction?

The obvious answer is Zwift…run it in conjunction with TR, or by itself.

Our weekly Tues / Thursday group has been doing assorted Zwift rides instead on those days during the winter. Big groups (often the DIRT rides) and our own Discord channel so we can chat really helps.

This weeks podcast also has a lot of suggestions for entertainment / distraction while indoor training.

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Unless he’s in the lead.

And solo TR training just might put him in that position.

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He could try meditation maybe. More than anything else I found that after doing it consistently for a year I was much happier being alone with my thoughts. I always used to have to run listening to music and now I’m okay without it. I was doing 20 min per day, sometimes 2x

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Distraction

  • Movies, videos, etc. via YouTube (race or rides with regular and POV cameras), Netflix (et al.)
  • Music via any source
  • Reading during “easy” workouts with low intensity

Interaction

  • Zwift paired use with TR for TR controlling the workout and Zwift for pure visual and social use.
  • Zwift only with free ride, group ride, solo workouts (in the world with others around), or group workouts.

Meditation, as effective as it is, may be too great a leap in this particular circumstance:

Let him know he can do TR workouts on Zwift. That might be a more suitable nudge.

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Use Zwift or find a training partner he can ride outside with.

I much prefer training while watching races. Not necessarily cycling (personally I watch whatever is on the nbc sports cycling and snow streaming passes). Not any more social but gives more of a sense of purpose than watching random tv does.

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Has he done a full Ironman before? Wondering if he knows the route. If so, he can visualize parts of it while doing a TR workout. I will do this for parts of the various MTB courses that I have raced many times. (Mainly the parts that really hurt).

Can he setup a buddy next to him and both do their own TR workout?

Is he married or have a significant other? they could smack him around while he rides to simulate unexpected stresses. Or just try and talk with him while he rides (or am I the only one that cannot figure out how to talk while focusing on the workout?).

I really don’t have an answer. I miss the social part of riding, but limited time at 5am has really impacted my group riding.

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Hence the popularity of Zwift. In Zwift, there are usually hundreds and even thousands (depending on the time of year) riding around the clock. Their large user base means there is almost never a time where you are “alone” in the game. Not everyone wants or needs that, but for those that do, Zwift is valuable in the social access at all times of the day.

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He’d better get used to suffer all alone then.

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The mental isolation may be the training he needs for an Ironman. They’re not a chatty bunch usually.

While the “solo” aspect is relevant to point out, it’s just as important to recognize the notable difference from sitting stationary and watching bar graphs inside, vs rolling in the real world for training and especially the main event.

At a minimum, use Zwift for the steady state type indoor rides. If you have the discipline to stick to the assigned zone it won’t take you off plan and Zwift really does feel like other humans are with you even if they are silent avatars. The organized group rides are even better. I never participate in the text chats but you can see them and they do make it feel like you’re not alone-not too different than listening in on random conversations on a real group ride. I’ve only tried once and its not my cup of tea but if you use Discord and a headset, you can actually talk to people. Its also possible on Zwift to meet up and “ride” with your actual ride buddies.

That should get you through 2 rides per week. For the other 3, the more focused interval workouts, suck it up and get to work. To be good at cycling, you have to learn to do solo work.

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Never tried Zwift. With others’ comments here, I may give up and try it. (Never done Strava either).

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Cool. Worth a shot. It’s not for everyone, but it works for many.

I’m happy to help if you have any setup questions, and can direct to good resources as well.

Thank you.

On race day, there is plenty to keep your mind occupied, even on the rare occasions when no one is around you, even in a full IM. Are you eating / drinking, time to next aid station, end of the leg, etc.

And realistically, there is almost always someone near you…even for the FOP cyclists. Most routes are at least 2 laps, so you’ll be passing plenty of people out on their first lap even as you start your second.

Riding solo indoors is absolutely nothing like racing an IM in terms of solitude. I definitely need the distraction when riding inside (and even outside when riding solo), but in race day, I am locked in and fully engaged. It is amazing how fast a full IM can seem to go by.

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First Full Ironman. He’s done 70.3 and plenty of century+ rides and marathons.
He’s mobilized by the US Army and thus is away from his normal training crew.
He is married, and she is an incredible cyclist/triathlete. But she is home.
He is essentially on his own for trainer rides at this point.

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Thank you all for the replies. I think there are essentially three options, based on the responses.
1.) Zwift
2.) Zwift +TR
3.) Suck it up, buttercup. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Even if it is just being in your own head.

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I’ve put in several thousands of miles indoor, and still honestly don’t want to do it every morning. It might be because I only trained outdoors for my earlier years, or because I am just sleepy in the mornings.

Either way, I would say I struggle with indoor training as well throughout the entire winter until I’m back outside… Zwift didn’t really help me, after several hours of utilizing it. It was fun and cool at first, but in my opinion, it’s not that much different than just staring at TR or any other app the entire time. Sure, there is the social aspect, but I felt it was just always me. A kudo from a random stranger didn’t make me feel much more social… The only helpful part for me was finding group rides that fit my “style”. This did help a little bit, as there was much more conversation, and after a few rides I could get to know people. Though typing while on the trainer is a whole different beast.

I’ve found good movies to make me want to be there a bit more. I like the MCU, Star Wars, etc for higher intensity rides as they have more intense scenes, and for longer slower rides, I enjoy How I Met Your Mother, White Collar, Arrested Development, and the likes (the good plots or funny shows where you can really get into it and forget that you’re riding). Start to finish, a good series could get you through a huge part of the indoor training.

Mediation, as another user suggested has also been big for me – not only on boring trainer rides, but for my life in general. 15 minutes a day has paid back tenfold by the increase of my mental focus and ability to be comfortable with my own thoughts.
However, like doughnuts said, this could also be too big of a jump.

I hope your friend finds a good method for him, but he can for sure know he’s not alone :slight_smile: All these methods people share haven’t done much for my struggle with the trainer, but I keep reminding myself that it’s only for a ‘season’ and it will all be worth it soon. I also make an effort to get outside any time the temperature is above 35-40ish

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