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The Abominable Indoor Trainer: My Best Training Partner

By Anne Samplonius, Guest Contributor and Cycling Coach

Anne Samplonius, silver at the 1994 World Championships in the individual time trial and countless National Canadian Championship medals

photo by CanadianCyclist.com

I am Canadian. I was a professional cyclist for 20 years and I know all about training indoors. My winters were a balance between donning ridiculous layers of clothing just to ride outside for a couple of hours to sweating liters inside in half that time despite the largest, loudest, baddest fan I could find positioned a few inches from my nose.

The outdoor training rides were reduced to survival. From toe warmers in my cycling shoes, red ski gloves three sizes too large dwarfing my hands and extra pounds of clothing covering every exposed inch it was a challenge to turn the pedals. I became the one speed wonder: I would mount the bike, oven mitts on the tops, and remain in a semi-frozen position until the bitter end, the only noticeable motion my little legs churning up and down like pistons, generating the necessary heat and energy to keep me upright and move me slowly forward.

Therefore all my specific, intense workouts were done inside. So you can imagine the amorous memories I have of this personal pain machine - my vintage 1998 Computrainer. This year I am entering my first year of retirement from a successful professional cycling career; I still ride that same Computrainer (it is going strong - better than me) and I still ride it hard. I must be nuts.

Perhaps I pedaled away a few brain cells in all those years perspiring away inside. Or maybe I became an indoor cycling addict: I crave the hurt, I need to suffer, to create puddles of disgusting sweat all while staring mindlessly out a window thickly steamed with the humidity of my heavy breathing that I might as well be staring at a wall (oh where was Ride Fit™ then?). But after years of indoor training that uncomfortableness became comfortable. My indoor trainer to this day is my trusted, guaranteed never-to-fail workout buddy. I never did name it, but perhaps I should.

I adore this dreaded machine because I am a witness to its huge benefits. There is no faster, better means to finding one's form than the indoor trainer. If you can handle a boatload of tempo pace pedaling and if you can mentally and physically plow through the challenging workouts, it is an effective and efficient tool to trim the fat, so to speak, from your training program. With the indoor trainer you can condense your workouts - cutting out slow, base miles - and get right to the nitty-gritty. This gives you the best bang for your buck. If you are like the majority of cyclists who ride, time is limited. Therefore the indoor trainer is the best tool you can have in your arsenal of bicycle paraphernalia.

I would not recommend the indoor trainer to accumulate easy base miles unless you are into self-torture, or really do enjoy viewing endless flicks kicking back on a five inch, barely padded seat sipping over sweet electrolytes and nibbling white chocolate, macadamia nut, chia seed, something-or-other that sounds delicious but tastes exactly like the conglomeration of vitamins and minerals it is, all while emanating a stench even your dog can't tolerate. If that's your style, go right ahead.

However, if you want to not only survive winter burnout but also arrive into spring fresh, ready and raring to go (plus better form then you thought possible) it is time to embrace the apparatus you may think of as so dreadfully boring and despicable that you would rather listen to the Curling World Championships on the radio as you watch that paint dry on a wall.

Trust me. I have fallen in love with my indoor trainer. I have seen it work its magic on me and it has become my life-long training tool.

Then again, I also happen to like curling.

About Anne

Canadian Anne Samplonius retired in 2012 from a successful 20-year professional cycling career that included winning silver at the 1994 World Championships in the individual time trial and countless National Championship medals. Anne currently is a stay-at-home mom who runs her own coaching business (http://thewomenspeloton.com/anneslam-coaching/) while chasing around a rambunctious toddler. She continues to pursue her other passion - writing - whenever she can.