At some point in the season, almost every athlete will find him/herself training indoors. For many athletes, indoor workouts are the norm for several months of the year due to winter storms/temps.
Are you the type of athlete who loves training indoors?
Training indoors provides a safe, controlled environment with few to no distractions. Due to time constraints, many athletes prefer indoor training as the only/best way to get in workouts early in the morning or late at night or to stick to a schedule.
Are you the type of athlete who views indoor training as the last resort training environment?
Training indoors may feel boring and isolating, making you feel less motivated to start or finish a workout trapped inside walls.
Reasons for working out indoors
- Unsafe weather conditions (ex. storm, ice, snow, extreme wind, etc.)
- Impractical weather conditions to safely exercise or execute a workout
- Personal preference - safety, accountability
- Specific workout requiring constant monitoring of effort or metrics
- Skill specific workout requiring controlled environment
- Practicality - location, time
Although training outdoors is fun and necessary, especially as it relates to putting yourself in a similar race day environment and practicing pacing, skills and nutrition, indoor training provides a safe, controlled environment to challenge you physically and mentally.
Tips to get the most out of your indoor workout
-Select the best entertainment to keep your mind stimulated based on the workout (ex. podcast, TV, movie, music, silence).
-Eliminate distractions so that you can stay focused and present.
-Write down your workout on a piece of paper or white board so that you are constantly reminded of what you expect your body to do throughout the entire workout. This will also foster a smoother workout flow of your workout.
-Treat your workout like a class. You have your start time to "show up" and then your finish time. In a class environment, a great excuse to leave a class early is when you are crunched for time or you have another commitment. It's not the best excuse to leave a class because you feel bored or you don't have motivation that day. Sometimes you have to hang in there and finish what you started.
-Understand that your mind will wander during an indoor workout and you will have waves of enjoying the workout and not enjoying the workout. This is normal (and not unlike race day!). Break down your workout into segments so that you can focus on one part of the workout at a time (don't think about how much longer you still have to work out, stay present and the time will pass).
-Mix up the training. You will find yourself enjoying indoor workouts if you have a mix of very specific workouts with intervals and then loose freedom workouts.
-Stay well hydrated and fuel appropriately. Treat your indoor workout like an outdoor workout, based on volume and intensity. Many athletes don't fuel properly for indoor workouts, assuming that the indoor workout is less taxing. Although an indoor workout eliminates dealing with gravity and environmental conditions like hills and wind, there are many specific indoor workouts that require proper fueling and hydration as training stress is still training stress, even indoors.
-Work on your mental toughness. As an athlete, you are going to race in all types of environmental conditions and on different courses. Racing will not be comfortable. You will want to quit. Use every indoor workout as a great opportunity to explore your thoughts as it relates to being uncomfortable and wanting to give up/in. Regardless of the intensity and/or volume of the workout, indoor training provides one of the best opportunities to train your mind. Use your indoor workout to develop strategies or mantras that keep you going and make note of them so that on race day, you can pull them out of your mental tool box.
-Don't neglect mobility before and after your indoor session as well as strength training. Being in a fixed position (ex. cycling on a bike trainer) or on controlled terrain (ex. treadmill belt) may cause bad habits in form and posture because you don't have to deal with environmental stress or changes in terrain. Spend some time warming up your body before a workout with dynamic stretching and stay mobile after your workout to prevent your body from getting stiff and tight. Strength training will also help you address any weakness in your form, posture or balance so that you can prevent a possible injury from happening later on in your season.