Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baby it's cold outside...indoor vs. outdoor training workouts.

There are many pros/cons of training indoors vs. training outdoors (and vice versa) in the Winter.  Which one is better?  I'll note the obvious pros starting with training indoors:
a. Quicker to just jump on the trainer and go.
b. Easier to jump on a trainer that's already set up ready to go.
c. Safer riding on a trainer indoors than riding outdoors on the sloppy roads.
d. No getting dressed (no gloves, hats, etc.) to train indoors.
e. Can watch TV/listen to music while training indoors.
f.  Can join online virtual reality races like Zwift.
g. Can train at any time indoors...day or night.
h. No worries about flats or other mechanicals you normally experience outdoors.
i. Don't have to worry about the weather..snow, sleet, rain, etc.
j. Don't have to worry about bike getting all slopped up with salt, mud, dirt, etc.
k. Rest rooms, water, food, shower, etc. are only seconds away.
l.  Can regulate temperature with a fan.

Ok, now the benefits of training/riding outdoors in the Winter:
a. There is no substitute for the feeling/balance/control/handling/etc. required to ride outdoors.
b. Hills! Hills! and more Hills!  A trainer can't replicate hills like the real thing unless you have a trainer that inclines and allows the bike to sway from side-to-side like it normally does when you climb hills outdoors.
c. Logistics- when riding outdoors you learn to become self-sufficient and learn what to wear, carry and not carry...including clothes, food, water, tire repair tools, etc.  You also get used to the weight of all your winter clothing, water bottles, food, etc. that you carry.
d. No substitution for learning to ride in the wind/cold/rain.
e. You can ride with a group- safety in numbers and more social than riding alone indoors.
f. You can coast on the road, you can't coast on a trainer- it stops when you stop (pedaling).
g. Specificity of Training

If I kept going, and I had to count the number of pros for each (Indoors vs. Outdoors), I'm sure I could find twice as many pros or reasons to train indoors vs. outdoors.  So, why not just train indoors all Winter?  The #1 advantage (or pro) in my mind for training outdoors is "Specificity of Training".  In fact, Specificity of Training trumps all the other pros of training indoors.  Specificity of Training states: "if you want to get better at something, you have to practice or train that specifically.  If you want to be a better bike racer, you better spend a good amount of time riding your bike- not trainer."  It's no different than training outdoors for an upcoming Time Trial vs. a Road Race.  If you want to get better at Time Trialing, you better ride/practice a lot on your Time Trial Bike vs. your road bike..and vice versa.  That's why I used to tell all of my athletes that I coached (that raced), "there is no substitute for riding on the roads outside in all kinds of weather- which includes the rain".  Those athletes that did train and ride in the cold and rain were the ones that did well come race season when it was cold and it rained during a race.  Why?  Because they were ready for it..physically and mentally..and they were confident in their bike handling skills unlike those that never rode or raced in the cold or the rain. 

So get out there and ride this Winter..as much as you may not like it.  It will pay dividends this upcoming race season.  Trust me.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

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