Embrace The Suck.
If you repeat the phrase Embrace The Suck enough it soon begins to get easier. What am I talking about? I could be talking about life, but I am referring to riding the trainer. Putting your bike on the trainer for 1 or even 2 hours is not a big deal, but once you go past that point you have to begin to embrace the suck. The trainer, like the treadmill, is all mental. You know it is not going to be fun but you also know the benefits of riding the trainer.
I bring this up because this weekend the weather was going to be brutally cold, and not just for Texas. The temperature at 8am on Saturday was going to be 32* with a feels like temp of 29*. For me if it is below 45* at the start of the ride I am contemplating riding the trainer because my hands and feet get so cold that there is no benefit to me being outside since I will not be focused on the ride but instead I will be focused on warming up. Knowing that I was getting on the trainer I asked Maria to set me up with a trainer ride that will make the time go by. 4 hours is not a big deal to me as I have done 6 hours on the trainer before but if I have the opportunity to shake up the work out I will.
The program that Maria sent off included easy sets, progressive sets and a Sufferfest video. There was a rhythm to the workout but there were times where I muttered embrace the suck and by doing that the time flew by and I was ready to start running before I knew it. As a person, similar to Emily and the treadmill, who enjoys the trainer there are still times I wonder what the benefits are.
Embrace The Suck Benefits:
- No Stopping or Coasting. As any cyclist knows there are times where you will coast or have to stop for traffic or stop lights. On the trainer there is neither and thus you are working from the first pedal stroke until the last.
- Workouts Done To Perfection. Since there is no stopping if your workout calls for 20 minutes at Ironman pace you know that you will get that in without being interrupted. You can also include interval sets that will be completed without hesitation.
- It Takes Less Time. Maria cut 30 minutes off of my overall time for the ride because of the trainer. Theory holds that the trainer can be 20% less than the road because it is non-stop so if you ride the trainer you are going to spend ‘less’ time riding.
- Weather Is Not An Issue. Neither Is Daylight. Just like the benefit of less time, there is the added benefit of doing it whenever you want. Setup your trainer in front of the TV or the laptop and start. No need to worry for sun rise or if the weather will hold up.
Riding the trainer is not all unicorns and rainbows though as there are a few drawbacks as well.
Embrace The Suck Disadvantages:
- No Hills. There are no hills when it comes to riding on the trainer so if you are looking for a ‘hilly’ ride this is not going to benefit you.
- Bike Handling. Bike handling is important, especially if you are racing a criterium. Being able to handle the bike in any situation will give you confidence when riding and there is no bike handling during a trainer ride.
- Boredom. It is easy to get board and then have your mind sway and lose focus on the sets that you have laid out for yourself. When you are not focused your cadence can drop and the workout can suffer.
Is riding the trainer a substitute for riding outdoors? No, but it should be included in your routine. Why? Besides the benefits listed above remember that change is the key to consistency and muscle adaptation. During the week my bike can be found on the trainer as I crank away 1-2 hour sessions with 5-6 layers of clothes on working up a tremendous sweat so that I can mimic the weather that I will face in San Juan at IMTX.