Nowhere to hide: Tips to tackle trainer torture

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I’m sitting here at the kitchen table sipping my coffee, staring out the window at the trees blowing in the wind. It’s raining outside, and I mean RAINING. The howling wind woke me up at 3am, now I’m tired.

I’m trying to muster up the courage to get on the indoor trainer. I was supposed to do a three-and-a-half hour ride in the hills, but due to the rain, my coach has given me the option of a two-and-a-half hour indoor session instead. I’m contemplating what’s worse… riding in the pouring rain for three-and-a-half hours, or riding the trainer for two-and-a-half. It’s a hard one. I’ll get drenched either way, it’s just a matter of whether it is in sweat or rain.

I start by thinking about the reasons I don’t want to ride in the rain:

A) It can be dangerous if the roads are wet and visibility poor;
B) I don’t cope well when I am cold; and
C) I don’t want to catch a cold which will interrupt my training.

So, that’s why I’m here, staring at the trainer once again. I’ll get on it, eventually. After I’ve done everything I can to avoid the inevitable a few minutes longer.


Lots of rain during the first stage of the 2016 Festival Elsy Jacobs.
Race rain is unavoidable but training rain is another matter entirely!

I don’t know why I’m dwelling on it so much today, I ride my KICKR at least once a week, even when it is dry. It is a great way of training, very efficient and great value for time invested. I’ve heard that  one hour on the trainer can be worth one-and-a-half hours on the road. But two-and-a-half hours is a long time and there’s something unnerving about the thought of riding the trainer for that long. I have always found it hard to do.

It requires that extra bit of mental strength to get through a session. It’s something about that pending pain, the continuous pedalling, the high heart rate, boredom and sweat dripping down my face that makes the trainer harder than the road. There are no distractions, no coasting, no traffic lights and nowhere to hide. The trainer is hard, but I guess that is exactly why it’s so good and so worthwhile to find a way to get on with that session.

Here are five tips that help me get through an indoor session when the procrastination sets in:

  1. Set a time frame in advance. Get on at 6:15am – get off at 7:30am. It’s harder to muck around and stretch out your getting ready time when you’ve given yourself a deadline to meet. That makes it a better option than just having a broad goal to get on the trainer some time this morning.
  2. Set the trainer up the night before. That way when you get up it is there waiting for you. There will be no excuses and faffing around to delay your start.
  3. Have everything set up so you are comfortable. That way you won’t have an excuse to get off. Set up a fan, have the TV remotes at your fingertips, have a towel and a water bottle handy.
  4. Plan your session. It’s easier to make it through when you know the effort is targeted at what you need to help make you stronger, quicker. Plus, structured efforts like an interval session can keep you focused and help the time pass faster.
  5. Have a distraction available. There’s no shame in using something external to help you through a session, whether this be listening to music, watching TV, a movie, cyclocross, Tour highlights. Another option is to use Zwift (it’s like Mario Cart for cyclists), TrainerRoad, or The Sufferfest.

There is a strange satisfaction when you’ve completed a sweaty indoor trainer session. Don’t put it off any longer, it’s time!

About the author

The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.

She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.

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