As an endurance athlete in the sport of triathlon who loves cycling, nothing beats hopping on your bike on a nice sunny day and riding for multiple hours through the beautiful countryside. Any hardcore cyclist will tell you that they live for these types of moments. A hardcore cyclist will also say that they do not enjoy riding for hours on a trainer indoors. The draw to the sport of cycling is training outside with your friends and colleagues on a gorgeous summer day. It is social as much as it is training; some call it the new golf where business is discussed over exercise on the open road.
In this day and age where time is our most valuable commodity, it does not pay for me to be outside for four to six hours to complete my cycling training. I am a professional triathlete who swims, bikes and runs for a living and there are just not enough hours in the day to get my bike training in outdoors on a consistent basis. I assume this holds true for most working professionals. You then add, to making a living, your family duties, friends, and life commitments and your day is already accounted for entirely. You need to make the time for exercising if you want it to be a part of your life. If you are reading this article on the Play2Health website, you are already an interested parent helping your child get a leg up with education and health. It then becomes a case of time management to eliminate the pain points that make life inefficient to squeeze in your training.
My goal through these articles is to help you learn from my mistakes and to take valuable points away with you that can improve your training and life. A few years ago, as I made the way from age group athlete to professional, I decided to figure out what took the most time in my day and improved on these things to open up time for activities that were most important in my life. As an example, I needed to find a new organizational system on my computer because I was spending unnecessary minutes locating media for my sponsors. I had pictures, video, and articles on my hard drive, on my husband’s hard drive, on external hard drives, and in the cloud. When a triathlete asked me a question I had already answered, or a sponsor wanted a particular photo, I would scour all of these resources for over ten minutes to locate; this adds up when you have multiple media requests per week. The resolution was to take the time to consolidate and organize the media which would ultimately save me hours per week. It takes time to systematize and maintain, but I then had time to do other things that are important to me.
In my average day, I spent an hour on the road traveling to different training activities. If I were riding my bike outside, it would take me an hour and a half round trip to get to where I would start my ride outside of the city for a two to six-hour jaunt, depending on what was on my training plan. I made the decision to find ways to train at spots within minutes of each other which then brought me to fully adopt indoor cycling. I taught and trained at a local cycling studio which freed up multiple hours per week. The ninety-minute indoor workouts are the equivalent to multiple hour outdoor rides so now I do ninety percent of my bike training indoors.
My swim training was switched to a pool closer to my indoor cycling and my strength and run training was done at my home gym. My driving to workouts was now reduced, on average, by forty minutes and I only rode outside once every few weeks. Because of these two examples of better organization and reducing my training commute, I was able to free up precious hours for relaxation, family, and friends. These are some of the things that enrich your life and can be lost to a busy schedule. I know that change is hard and freeing up time can seem daunting but if you think outside the box and take a firm hard overhead view of your life, you too can reduce these time drains that infect a lot of athlete’s lives!
As we come full circle with this article, endurance athletes, especially hardcore cyclists, ask me why I do so much training indoors. I tell them it was a conscience decision to substitute the long commute and preparation it takes to embark on an outdoor ride with high efficiency, just as effective, indoor training where you still get the camaraderie of a group of athletes training to reach their goals. You can still discuss that business deal or socialize with friends in the comforts of a studio. After ninety minutes, you can then get on with the next phase of your day! Yes, there are still times where I am itching to ride with training partners in the great outdoors but freeing up time for family and friends is not a bad compromise to cycling outside less frequently.
Written by Professional Triathlete Meredith Kessler – MeredithKessler.com