November 24, 2019 6 min read

Living in a winter city, we've always spent a solid 6 months of our ride year training indoors on trainers.  Out of necessity, we've figured out how to make it work and make the best use of our indoor trainer time.  Now, smart and interactive trainers together with engaging platforms like Zwift, Rouvy , Fulgaz and TrainerRoad have brought huge numbers of cyclists worldwide to our world.  This is one area where we have experience to share with the leagues of cyclists now spending so many hours training indoors and online.  We know that some days it's harder than others to get started and to keep going.  We know how hard it is to keep riding the road to nowhere.  We can help you stay on top of your online rides:  here are our top ten list of ways to get motivated for indoor riding and get stronger.  The more of them you use, the better your chance of success.  


1.  Make a plan

Don't just sit on the trainer and start riding. Give some thought to the purpose of the ride and then make a plan for a workout that meets those goals. Determine the duration and intensity for the intervals together with the number of repetitions.  For some of us (me!), it helps to document the workout before you start in order to solidify the goal.  I used to write the workout in a spreadsheet and have a printed copy of the workout with me.  Now, I do my interval rides on Zwift.  I'll have a plan for the nature and duration  of the intervals and the sets. Then I find a pre-built workout in the Zwift workout library or I write my own custom workout.  Then, it's "Go" time.  I find Zwift workouts to be very engaging - once you start, you're pretty motivated to finish them.  And, I gotta admin I really like getting that star on every line after I complete a set.  Yes, Zwift understands that some of us still like getting stars as a reward for a job well done.  Take a look at the workout outline in the upper left corner.  Stars indicate that set was done successfully.  I will turn myself inside out just to get a star on every line.  I don't always succeed but I'll do everything I can to not fail.


Zwift workout

Here is a screenshot of a workout drafted for Zwift.  Once you hit the orange "workout" button, it's on!




2. Make a workout date

Meet up with a friend at a set time and date.  You don't want to let them down so you will show up and you will do the work.  Since in person meetups don't work when social distancing is required, use an online application like Zoom for your workout. 


3. Ride to the beat. You might need headphones for this one!

Music works for most people. Choose music that gets you going and is a good fit for your workout. And I realize that everyone has different taste in music so headphones are a good idea for this one. Not everyone loves to hear my playlist. 


4.  Try a movie workout

If you find the right movie, you can make up a pretty interesting workout. I'm not a fan of musicals generally but I did take part in one movie workout where the plan was to pick up the intensity every time a song came up. Maybe that's why I'm not a fan of musicals.  With a dumb comedy, set up a rule for what you need to do when something predictable happens.  With Zoolander, try doing a 1 minute pick up every time someone says "Derek".  And add a 2-minute hill climb every time someone says "really really ridiculously good looking".  And "orange mocha frappuccino" has to be worth something, right?  Find your goal movie and make a plan.


5. Make sure your bike and trainer are ready to go.

Make it as easy as possible to get your workout started and as positive an experience as possible. Set up your "pain cave" with your bike ready to go together with all the accessories you need to get going. I have a small fan, a TV, laptop stand a Netflix subscription all ready to go. Preworkout, I prepare my water bottles and some nutrition and I'm ready to ride.




6. The Numbers Game:  Use A Feedback Mechanism 

Use a heart rate monitor, power meter or Smart interactive trainer, anything that will give you objective, measurable feedback on your workout.  This will keep you on task and help you achieve the results for your training session and for your winter training season.


Training apps provide enough data  - power, cadence, speed, distance, hill grade, maps - to keep you engaged and enough rewards to keep you motivated.


7.  Choose Your Weapons:  Use An App (or Two)

 There are lots of online training options out there that can help you connect with other riders.  I'm on Zwift but Rouvy, TrainerRoad and Sufferfest all have their fans.  Online training apps can connect you with other riders and can have in-game rewards that help keep you going. I know that when I'm just a 5 or 10k away from making it to the next level or earning a new jersey on Zwift, I won't stop this ride until I get there.


8.  Sign up for something or set a weekly goal

Zwift and other apps have events.  If I sign up for the event in advance, I'll do it.  Maybe I'll see you there!  The other thing you can do is set a challenging weekly goal and Zwift will let you know when you've reached your goal.  Every once in a while, update your goal setting to be more challenging.


9. Get Comfortable:  Aerobars

I don't use aerobars on my road bike when I ride outside but for indoor riding, it sure is great to have another hand position.  Riding outside is more dynamic - you'll be moving around on the saddle and your bars frequently whether you are actively aware of it or not. Inside, you don't have to concern yourself with vehicles, traffic signals or corners so you tend to just sit more stationery.  Aerobars can get you an alternative position for some of those longer intervals.


10.  It's One:  Make Your Workout A Social Media Challenge

I saw this one on an Instagram challenge.  Canadian pro triathlete, Cody Beals (scary smart!!!) had a 4-hour trainer ride to do so he posted a survey on Instagram at the beginning of his ride asking his friends how many thought he could sit on the trainer for the whole 4 hours.  About 2/3 of the responses thought he could do it and the remaining 1/3 said "no".  He did the same thing I would have done: you finish it!  You don't want to disappoint anyone who is behind you and you want to prove the rest of them that they are wrong.  Get it done!!

While I was training for Ironman Canada the summer of 2021, I had a 180k  ride to do on one of our rare rainy and cold summer weekends so I thought I'd try my version of the Beals' method. Not being a big Instagram user for my personal account, I posted the challenge on Facebook.  I started riding the Ironman Canada course on Rouvy, posted a screenshot, said what I was planning and asked if people thought I could do it.  Most people knew I am a stubborn and determined one so there was a lot of positive support but what surprised me where the few people who jumped on and rode with me for a bit. It was pretty awesome. And, of course, I didn't want to disappoint anyone so I had to finish, right?  I have to say that the ride was really not that bad and that is the day I officially fell in love with Rouvy. It is now my "go to" platform for any long ride.  

External motivation can provide great strong support to a focused and specific goal.  Pair that with stubborn determination and you've got a recipe for indoor training success.  


Elise Gaudet
Elise Gaudet

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