Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Bike Training

Today, a client asked me whether it was okay to do scheduled trainer workouts outside if the weather was nice. The answer for her was yes. But would the answer always be yes? It depends. To help you decide, here's what I considered when telling her yes.

First, for cycling, she's in a base building period. We're using a little bit of intensity in her bike workouts but we're primarily working on cycling form and efficiency. That means that I'm including cadence and form drills in her bike workouts. For example, to improve her cadence, one of her workouts this week includes spin-ups. She should be able to safely pedal at a high cadence outside. Maybe she won't be able to hold the spin-up as long as on the trainer because of a stop sign, but overall, she'll get the same benefit. Another workout includes single-leg pedaling. I've told her to not try this if she rides on the road. In my opinion, for her, that is a little too dangerous to be doing off the trainer.

Second, spending too much time on your trainer can get incredibly boring. If she can alternate between the trainer and the road during a time when she doesn't have a lot of intensity, she'll stay interested in riding her bike and may do more workouts than if I require her to stay on the trainer so that she fits in all of those efficiency drills.

Third, as I mentioned she doesn't have a lot of intensity during this period. So if she rides a little slower to stay safe in the road conditions, that isn't going to negatively impact her training.

We all want to do well but we all do this because we consider our sport, whether cycling, triathlon, or duathlon, to be fun. As you make the decision about whether you ride outdoors or on a trainer in the winter, consider not just what is best for your training plan but what is fun. Unless you have an A priority race early in the season, you should probably choose the fun option. Just make sure that fun option isn't racing your friends in a ride that is far more intense than you need to be riding at this time of year. The last thing you want is to beat all of your training partners in January, and be off the back of the pack at your races in July!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Every Little Bit Counts

Today I went for a 20 minute run. In the past, I'd never go out for a run that short. If I couldn't fit in at least 30 minutes, I thought, what was the point. So I wouldn't do anything. But then one day of not running could easily lead to the next day of not running and then the next until the habit of daily exercise was no longer a habit and it was much easier to come up with more and more excuses to not run that it was to just head out the door.

So I've changed my attitude. Any run, no matter how short, is worth while. Today it was 20 minutes. Tomorrow it might be 20 minutes. The day after it might be 20 minutes. But eventually that 20 minute run will become a 30 minute run and that 30 minute run will become an hour run and the hour run will become an hour and a half run. And that will happen much more quickly than if I wait until I can fit in 30 minutes. Plus, two 20 minute runs equals 40 minutes whereas one 30 minute run equals 30 minutes. So with my new attitude, I'm running more even if I'm not running longer.

There are times when not running is the better choice - times when I'm overtired or when I'm hurt. But if I'm just busy, I've decided that I'll take my 20 minutes over 20 minutes on the couch.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick Thoughts on Motivation

Lately, I've been talking to a lot of clients who are having trouble with motivation during the off season. I have to admit that I have problems myself. When it's dark and cold - and there's 20 inches of snow - it's hard to get motivated to get out of bed, let alone get out of bed and head to the pool. But there are some techniques that you can use to help increase your motivation and I've been working with my clients (and myself!) to make these happen.

1. Know why you are training. Without having specific goals, its hard to have motivation. Is there a race that you are doing next summer? What is your goal for the race?

2. Create a positive affirmation. Or two. These don't have to be true now but they should be things that you want to be true. So maybe you don't currently like getting out of bed to train but if you want to, you could have an affirmation that says "I like how I feel during the day when I workout first thing in the morning." Tell yourself this and in the future you may find that it is true!

More thoughts down the road but these should help you get started. I know I'll be up first thing in the morning and on the bike in the basement. I've got some Netflix to catch up on and a duathlon in April to train for!