Sunday, February 7, 2010

Indoor Training: The Road to Nowhere?

It seems that the weather this winter has been on the 'extreme' side throughout the country. In my old home state of Maryland, over 20 inches of snow fell in blizzard conditions over the past few days. In my new home state of Arizona and city of Tucson, we experienced unusually cold temperatures a few weeks ago with intense rains and tons of snow in the higher elevations. Even today , as easterners dig out from the blizzard, we're experiencing chilly temperatures and strong rain fall here in the desert.

It's a good thing that endurance athletes have the ability to train indoors! From state of the art treadmills, to swim benches to computer based bike trainers to training dvds (Spinervals anyone?), there are lots of great ways to 'pass the time' and maintain or gain fitness while in the comfort of your own home.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of indoor training. Funny to hear from a guy who makes his living in that part of the exercise industry, huh? It's just that I prefer being outdoors most of the time and hitting the roads and trails... one of key reasons I migrated to the southwest. With that said, I strongly believe that indoor training, minute for minute, is more effective and efficient than training outdoors... not to mention safer and more convenient.

Many coaches believe that you can produce 20-30% more 'work' in a given period indoors v. outdoors. In other words, you are that much more efficient with your time when it comes to 'work output' due to the elimination of so many variables (i.e. road signs, stop lights, traffic, wind, etc.). Add onto that the time it takes to prepare for a road ride, especially in the colder climates (i.e. adding layers, booties, etc.), you see how hopping on the trainer can be a real time saver. Also, just the focused effort you can achieve on the trainer when using a power meter or HR monitor is great as you're able to really 'dial it in' and maximize that training session.

On the other hand, indoor training is B O R I N G in most cases. Many of us enjoy outdoor endurance sports training because it gets us outside, allowing us to socialize, be part of nature and feel the cool breeze. What would you rather do... ride Mt. Lemmon in the Tucson Training Rides DVD or actually ride Mt. Lemmon 'live' and enjoy the incredible vistas as you descend at 40 mph under a clear blue sky in shorts? Exactly!

I do like treadmill running and sometimes opt for it over outdoor running, even when the weather permits running on the trail or roads. I feel there's a great training benefit from treadmill running while not opening oneself up to overuse injuries common among competitive runners. It's also nice to catch up on the news, or to watch a game or a movie while slogging away on the tread (aka 'dreadmill'). And again, you can really 'dial in' your pace for steady state running or even speedwork.

I guess the bottom line is that having to train indoors is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. For many people, it's a part of life if they wish to be competitive... hours on the trainer is a prerequisite for success when the summer races roll around.

Any way, if you're forced to be indoors today, I hope you have a great workout. It looks like the rain is slowing down here so I might try to get out on the roads. :)

Train Smart,
- Coach Troy


  1. Well, I did your Tough Love yesterday and ran outdoors in -25c windchill in a 10k race today. The jury is still out which was tougher...or sweatier!

  2. You said: "What would you rather do... ride Mt. Lemmon in the Tucson Training Rides DVD or actually ride Mt. Lemmon 'live' and enjoy the incredible vistas"...

    Well....obviously, we all agree on the latter, but....given that tomorrow morning was to be Mt. Lemmon on DVD and has been replaced with 2-3 hours of shoveling wet, heavy snow....uh, I'll take the DVD, please. I won't be greedy and want the real experience. Puh-lease?!?!?!?!?

  3. Not to be a total brown noser, but spinervals get me through the winter! Great opportunity to sweat instead of freeze outside.

  4. I agree with Amanda. I couldn't get through the winter without Spinervals. I've tried other cycling DVD's and they're just not the same. I did the aero base 28.0 today and it was perfect - got in a great ride in a short time. Now, if I could just get motivated to lift weights!

  5. Hey not to just jump on the bandwagon, but I am with Amanda and Cindy, 100% - your DVD's get me to stay in cycling shape in the winter. But, I have to admit, I am allergic to treadmills.

  6. We have been riding Spinervals for about 5 years now. Gets us through the winter months. New Years Day it is always Hardcore 100 (this year we had 8 riding with us). If yur birthday falls during the winter months-your gift is riding Tough Love (we have done it 3 times so far this winter). Through the week-depends on what everyone wants. I am a novice rider, my husband and friends are seasoned ones - this gives me an opportunity to ride with them.