Sunday, April 3, 2016

My winter of indoor training

Up until this year, I was pretty hardcore about training outside unless it was dangerous (i.e. ice, potential zombie apocalypse, etc). This summed up my attitude:

This winter things really changed. One big reason was Zwift. Rather than dreading the boring indoor trainer ride, I came to enjoy it. I'd put a movie on one screen, Zwift on the other, and I positioned the kid's music stand horizontally for my phone, mouse, and fuel. It's a great setup and often better suited to the specific workouts I needed to accomplish.

I got curious and queried Training Peaks. Since January 1, I've done 43 bike rides, and only 8 of them outside. That's crazy! Prior years it was probably the complete opposite of that.

There's been a cascade effect with my runs. Of the 53 since the beginning of the year, just 26 have been outside; 27 have been on the treadmill in my basement or in a gym. In all of 2015 I only found one treadmill run on Training Peaks, there may have been a few more, but nothing close to 27!!

All 27 swims have been inside too (haha), whether at the pool or on the Vasa Swim Ergometer. That's not something I want to take outside in Virginia quite yet!

I've softened my stance on the indoor vs outdoor decision. There are some definite upsides to indoor training. On the bike I often get a better workout especially if the goal is to hold a particular power level. I can focus more fully. On the run I can hold a prescribed pace - something that is difficult to do on the roads. I can also push the pace more, again - no distractions! I run my easy runs easier because I do a better job of keeping tabs on my heart rate.

There are time efficiencies, and fewer layers/laundry in the winter! And for the longer training sessions on weekends it has allowed me to stay home among the family even if that just means they are walking by as I'm pedaling or running.

Indoor training also takes less mental energy to initiate. Over the last five weeks, with fragile emotions and an overloaded brain, the trainer and treadmill have been a salvation. When I have debated inside or outside (clearly procrastinating), Coach Jim reminds me to go with the one that is "easier to get started." After all, starting is the hardest part. I am fortunate I've had indoor, at-home options that have allowed me to keep up my training. If I had let training totally fall apart, I think I would have too.

I'm not discounting the importance of outdoor rides for bike handling skills, and not discounting the amazing benefits of outdoor rides and runs for the spirit. I look forward to more.

So, have I gotten soft? Or smart?

I don't know, but I no longer need to prove my toughness to the weather. Only to myself.