Indoor training workouts and tips
Triathlon exercises indoors
People either love indoor training or they hate it. I usually fight it for as long as possible however there is no denying it's very good for you and frankly when you spend your winter training in the UK, sometimes you don't have a choice. And let’s be honest, riding in the cold can sometimes be dangerous and often the cold weather and mental strain will take more from you then it’s worth.
Written by Will Clarke
Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion. He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.
Some of the best triathletes in the world do virtually all their training indoors. Most people could never do that mentally but it is possible to be very good and never set foot outside. Treadmill sessions for instance can be very effective. It's an opportunity to work on cadence and if you have a mirror close by, you can check on your technique.
You obviously have no natural tests like a style to jump over or roads to cross and you have to keep up with the machine otherwise it'll throw you off and that in itself is a mental strain. I used to like to do a session where you run 6k straight at threshold pace (18kph) straight into 1k above that pace (19kph) and 1k below (17kph) for 2/3 times. The urge is to keep hold of the bar in front of you but my old coach countered that when he used to demand a £1 fine for every bar touch! It's definitely a good way to develop your fitness and mental strength.
Turbo training sessions are also very useful but of course the only problem is that there isn’t a lot to look at and you're going nowhere for a lot of effort. The main thing I struggled with was that my perceived effort was very high but the power output was shockingly low. That's just the head telling the body to shut down and I'm bored! That's when it's good to have power and heart rate monitors and many good turbos have this now. Put on some good music or a movie and make sure to set yourself a session of some sort so you have something to aim at.
One thing I like to do is build into it and gradually increase my watts every 5 minutes and surprisingly you really end up getting into it. It's also very useful for technique development especially if you're riding a Time Trial bike. That’s because there is no reason for you to leave the aero position and that's rare on UK roads with our bumpy twisty roads, pot holes and bad drivers.
Another type of indoor riding that can be useful is using the rollers. It's another cheap addition to your training equipment and teaches you a lot about your technique and pedalling. It forces you into a higher cadence and makes you pedal smoothly just to stay on the things. If you can ride well on the rollers then it'll transfer really well to the road and you'll feel like much more of a competent cyclist.
Hit the weights
Gym training is the other obvious indoor training session. If it's raining outside or too cold to train then don't feel bad if you want to skip out and work in the gym instead. Gym sessions will offer you improvements in strength, stability, injury prevention and co-ordination and all of these will go a long way to improving your performance in the triathlon. It will transfer into the three disciplines nicely. Fitness will get you a long way but if you can also increase your maximal strength capacity then that will pull up your performance as well, plus you'll look better on the beach on your summer holiday!