Embrace The Suck – Benefits Of The Bike Trainer

Embrace The Suck.

Embrace The Suck

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.

embrace the suck - bike trainer - triathlon - ironman

Embrace The Suck But Make It As Enjoyable As Possible.

How Do You Embrace The Suck?

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  1. Jeff Irvin says:

    I’ve been enjoying my trainer time recently? Most of the time the boredom drive me nuts, but not the last couple of weeks.

    Maybe because I am keeping the workouts under 90mins? Or I am enjoying using TrainerRoad? Or I am glad not to be out in the cold?

    Good work man!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..My Diet as an Endurance Athlete …My Profile

    • CTER says:

      Definitely being out of the cold is a huge help. The boredom can get to you but I did 6 hours on the trainer because of the rain in prep for IMAZ and so now a 3 or 4 hour trainer ride seems like nothing.

  2. Kate says:

    Oh, this is so perfectly topical for me, as I just spent 3+ hours of my Sunday on the trainer. I’ll mountain bike in freezing temps, but it’s rare to catch me on my road bike in those conditions.

    One more plus in addition to yours (wouldn’t necessarily work for your more focused workout…mine was a matter of putting in the miles and saddle time) was that I was able to spend that time with my son watching a movie and talking to him while he sorted cards. Being there for some of my trainer rides makes him more interested in my training and hopefully models perseverance for him.
    Kate recently posted..The 8-year planMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Kate – Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it.

      I agree with you on the ability to have the little ones watch as you go to work on your trainer. That certainly makes them more interested and I have seen that from my 7 year old step son. He talks about being an Ironman all the time and that is always a big lift.

  3. Another pro: No worry about safety – getting hit by cars, chased by dogs, random dark shadow lurker
    Another pro: Catching up on your Netflix :)
    Another pro: Being able to tweet/FB/text with friends to share the suffering

    Another con: No stopping or coasting – sometimes a girl needs a break!

    Gets the workout done. Going to be cold here the next several days so I’m sure you’ll see me on mine.
    TriMOEngr (Christina) recently posted..Weekend = Ride, Run, RideMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Ha! I hear ya on the need a break but that is when I got to the bathroom. Don’t think the wife would like it if I pee’d on my bike inside the house or even in the garage.

  4. Natasha says:

    As much as the trainer bores me it’s saved me several times during the week or during horrible weather! And it keeps my dog entertained watching my leg go round and round! :-)
    Natasha recently posted..Ironbaby, maybe?My Profile

  5. Since I work long hours I’m rarely home mid week while it is light out so I spend a lot of time on the hamster wheel even when there isn’t snow on the ground. My coach defines each power level and interval for me to hit so boredom doesn’t creep in.

    I can do the trainer but the mill mentally crushes me.
    The Rock Star recently posted..First trimester of ironMy Profile

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