Weekend Reading: Tips and Workouts for Going Long on the Indoor Trainer

The greatest strength of Carmichael Training Systems is the incredible team of professional coaches that work here. So instead of always hearing from me, I want to start bringing you blog posts and articles from the men and women who you are – or who you could be – working with directly.

First up is Clayton Feldman, who works in our Colorado Springs office. Not only is he a dedicated and enthusiastic coach, but he also has an incredible training drive himself. Over the past month he’s been putting in double-days on the indoor trainer, and in a few cases he’s done our 70-mile mid-morning “Staff Meeting” ride and then done an hour on the trainer with 4x8min SteadyState Intervals that same evening. If you’re someone who wants to push yourself and you need someone to help you stay on that razor’s edge of workload/recovery balance, Clayton’s your man.

Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems


Going Long on the Indoor Trainer

By Clayton Feldman

While many of you are familiar with working with a CTS Coach, you may not realize that as coaches we work together in “pods”. Basically it’s a mentorship program where coaches of varying experience levels and areas of expertise work collaboratively for the benefit of all our athletes. During these cold months it also means we spend a lot of time trading ideas about indoor training.

This week our attention has turned to keeping athletes engaged during longer, aerobic endurance rides on the indoor trainer. Some time-crunched athletes focus on two or three short, high-intensity interval workouts on the trainer each week, but there is also a lot to be said for putting in longer, moderate-intensity rides on the indoor trainer. This is especially true for athletes who are preparing for longer road races, multiday cycling tours, endurance mountain bike events, and half- and full-Iron distance triathlons.

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Here are some of tips and workouts you can use to make the most of your longer (1-3hour) indoor trainer rides.

  1. Base your rides on Kilojoules, not time: If you’re using a power meter, you can monitor your progress with kilojoules rather than minutes. Kilojoules represent the amount of mechanical work you’re producing (kilojoules/time yield power in watts), and the stimulus from an endurance ride can be measured by the amount of work you produce. Out on the road during a conversational-pace endurance ride, most riders do about 600 Kj of work per hour. On the trainer, aim to increase this to 800/hr with a combination of efforts (Tempo, SteadyState) and a reduction in your non-pedaling time, compared to outdoor riding. You or your coach can look at your outdoor rides to determine a goal kilojoule workload for your session (perhaps 1200-1500 kilojoules) and you’re done when you reach that number, whether that’s after 90 minutes or 2 hours.
  2. Combine DVDs with TV: One way to get a great workout and have the trainer time pass quickly is to complete a Train Right DVD or video download in the first hour, and then continue with 2-3 long Tempo intervals while watching TV for a second hour. If you choose this route, do the harder interval workout first so you’re fresh for those efforts, then back down the intensity for the second hour.
  3. Try Aerobic OverUnder Intervals: Many of you are familiar with OverUnders, where you start out at threshold intensity and then alternate between threshold intensity and above-threshold surges as the interval progresses. There’s an aerobic version of this workout as well, where you start out at EnduranceMiles pace for 5 minutes, go to Tempo intensity for 5 minutes, return to EM for 5min, Tempo 5min, etc. We’ll often have athletes continue alternating like this for 45-60minutes. You can also make the Tempo portions longer (5min EM, 10min Tempo). To make it more interesting you can throw in 5minute SteadyState intervals every few cycles as well (5min each EM/T/EM/T/SS/EM/T/EM/T/SS/EM for instance).

The important thing to remember about longer indoor trainer rides is that you need to have a goal and a way to stay focused. Lollygagging along for three hours watching the Lord of the Rings isn’t worth your time, but pumping out 800 kilojoules an hour for 2+ hours and piling up 45-60 minutes at Tempo intensity along the way, that’s a great day’s work!

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