Winter Training

My Winter Training, by Stephen Jones

This past winter, I got into indoor training in a much bigger way than I have in the past. In previous winters, I generally accepted that I would lose conditioning. I stayed in some shape with commuting, and I would do occasional unstructured rides on the trainer.

That changed this winter. I had two goals: The first was to lose some weight. The second was to improve my power. I stumbled across a website called TrainerRoad ( They have a pretty neat offering of workouts, training plans, and an application to help structure your workouts. But, you need some equipment:

• A bike.
• A stationary trainer to put the bike on. One that TrainerRoad has in its database.
• A computer with an ANT+ receiver. (A little USB dongle from Garmin or another vendor)
• An ANT+ speed sensor. (Garmin again)

How it works is you run the TrainerRoad application on the computer and pick a workout. Once the workout is loaded, get on the bike and start pedaling. TrainerRoad uses the speed it gets from the speed sensor and combines it with the power profile of your trainer to give you a power reading. Now, all you have to do is adjust your speed so your power matches the target power. You can now do power-based interval workouts on your stationary trainer without the cost of a power meter.

One of the first workouts to do is one of the power test rides. This will test your limits to find your threshold power. TrainerRoad remembers this power and scales all your subsequent rides based on this. So, an interval in a workout may ask for 150 Watts from one rider and 210 Watts for another, depending on the results of their power tests. TrainerRoad stores your workout history and tracks personal bests, such as max power for a minute.

There are a few costs involved. TrainerRoad is a subscription-based service (about $10/month) and if you don’t already have the Garmin bits, it will be about another $70-80 to get those.

This system worked for me since it gave me structured workouts that were more interesting than simply peddling along on the trainer for an hour or so. I also like the elegance of calculating power based on speed. Having the history lets me see improvements over time, which helps with motivation. Being able to play videos on the computer while I’m working out helps alleviate the boredom as well.

I know others do everything from continuing their training rides outside, using battery-powered socks, to joining cycling gyms and training in a class. This system fits my personal goals and personality. Maybe others would be willing to share how they train over the winter.

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