For the final segment of this mini-workout series I thought instead of sharing another workout I'd do just a quick little post on strategies that I use to get through tough difficult workout (and sometimes help pass the time on the not so tough ones).
1) First and foremost, I've mentioned this many times, there needs to be a goal that your working towards, and the workouts need to be specific to helping you accomplish your goal. I've talked about this many times now in previous posts so I won't go super in-depth on the subject, just that before every workout you should easily be able to answer the question: What's the purpose of this workout? Having a clear purpose makes the workout already easier to get through since you know going into it, that it may be tough but in the end it is helping you get you to your main goal.
2) Good Music. Doing all your workouts on the indoor trainer is tough, and takes a lot of motivation to go back onto the stationary bike trainer day-in day-out, month after month. Especially when other competitors are maybe posting pictures of them riding on epic looking roads with fantastic views in Boulder, or Majorca, or wherever, and you on the other hand are in your basement with your bike tightly fixed to the pain machine. In addition, in my opinion, trainer workouts are much more inherently difficult than riding outside for the simple reason there is no free-wheeling to recover. If your "free-wheeling" on an indoor trainer your really just wasting time sitting on a not so comfortable chair. Also, there are no lights, no stop signs, absolutely no respite, it is about constant power. So having some good playlists set-up is a great help and motivator. It is also fun to even use the music to help guide the workout. For example, at the end of every song you can change to a harder gear, and then once at the end of the cassette, back down a gear with every song change. If you have 11 gears in the back and you figure every song is 3 minutes long then right there is about an hour long workout (just don't put Bat out of Hell into that playlist or some other 10 minute song because that kind of will mess up the rhythm of things).
3) That last point brings me nicely into this one: change up the cadence every so often. Being on an indoor trainer, you aren't forced to make cadence changes since there isn't any wind or actual hills. I find a good way to get through long intervals at around race pace is to break it up into various cadence segments. Going maybe from normal cadence, to 10 RPM higher than normal, down to 10 below normal. Not only will it help break up the long interval but you will also make it more realistic to being out on the road, and also various cadences can help you improve all-round. For example very low cadences help build leg strength, whereas high cadence save the legs a little more but get your heart rate up higher working the aerobic system.
4) Change positions on the bike. Also on long intervals, you can mentally/physically break up the interval by maybe getting up out of the saddle for 20 pedalstrokes at the top of each minute. Each time focusing on keeping your power smooth as you transition in and out of the saddle. This will help not only keep some of your muscles a little fresher since you will be changing up muscle recruitment with various changes in position, but it will also help off load pressure from the saddle region - being on an indoor trainer since you don't change position as often as outside you are constantly grinding on the saddle area and this can quickly lead to saddle sores. You can also change position by trying to be in aero position always say at a 2:1 ratio of your upright position. So if you spend 6 minutes in aero you can be upright for 3 minutes, 4 minutes aero 2 minute upright, etc.
5) To get through very difficult intervals, I like to try to focus on certain aspects of my pedalstroke to keep my mind occupied. So for instance, I will focus on "kicking" my feet over the top (10 to 2 o'clock position), or pulling my feet across the bottom (4-8 o'clock). In the case of say a 5 minute interval at 110% I may just think about the kicking part from 5-3 minutes left in the interval, and then pulling from 3-1 minute, and then just being strong and tough and grind out that last minute. Sometimes for the very hardest of intervals, I will keep my mind off of the extreme pain/chest exploding feeling by counting my pedalstrokes. So I may count to 30 on my left foot, then 30 on my right, then as it becomes more and more difficult to focus for that long with all the pain surging through, 20 or even just 10 on my left and 10 on my right. Do this and before you know you'll be in those final 20 seconds with the finish line in sight.
6) On that last note: always believe and even say out loud to yourself that "you got this." My go to is "WHAT'S MY NAME - FRANK THE TANK!" Funny thing is that as weird as it sounds, I can't tell you how many tough swim and bike workouts I've got through by repeating this. I actually started using it to guide my cadence as I swim a while back. So in my head I have going through What's (Stroke) My (Stroke) Name (stroke), Frank (stroke), the (stroke), Tank (stroke). For me it works out the the perfect cadence, and before you know it the swim is done. So constantly remind yourself that you can do this, and stay as positive as possible throughout. Take it one interval at a time, and don't think about what is the next set, or the next workout (if a brick run for example), stay focused on the interval your in and you can do it. Also I like to remind myself near the end say a 20 minute long interval that when I get to the final 4-5 minutes or so (75-80% done the interval), that at this point this is no physiological reason why I can't finish this interval. If I've made it this far, there is absolutely nothing stopping me from finishing this off. It's different from say a 2-3 minute brutally hard interval where you have lactate to deal with, but at 70.3 race watts really it comes down to your motivation (if your fueled properly that is).
So those are some of my strategies to help get my through tough and even the easier workouts. I will continue adding more of my workouts to the team Frank Sorbara - Elite Triathlete on TrainerRoad if your interested. Until next time happy training and racing.