Triathlon wind-trainer biking can be a valuable component of triathlon/ironman training.
For those rainy days or days when training time is at a premium, a wind-trainer can come in pretty handy.
I remember the first time I thought I set up a wind-trainer in my living room.
I thought it would be a good bike training alternative for my Ironman races when the weather was bad, which seems to be the case about 75% of the time where I live.
As often as I could, I would load my bike on the back of my car and drive out to the countryside where there was a wide shoulder and less traffic.
The busier the roads became, the more my thoughts turned to the possibility of triathlon wind-trainer training as opposed to being out on the road.
There are many sound reasons for triathlon bike training on a wind-trainer.
1) SOMETIMES TRIATHLON TRAINING TIME IS LIMITED
There are going to be plenty of those days when you just have to get that bike-training ride in but time is at a premium.
There is always work, family, and social life to consider and it can be a tough balancing act, especially if you are training for an Ironman.
The beauty of a wind-trainer is that you can squeeze in that bike workout any time, day or night.
You also eliminate the time it takes to load up your bike and drive to your favorite bike-training route.
There are those lucky few triathletes who can just walk out their front door and hop on their bike. Unfortunately many triathletes live in big cities with lots of traffic and have to haul their triathlon bike out to a less-traveled highway.
2) WHEN NATURE CALLS
Have you ever been on one of those long Ironman training rides and suddenly found yourself in serious need of an outhouse?
There is a steady stream of traffic going up and down the road and not a tree in sight.
One of the biggest perks of wind-trainer bike sessions is that you are only a few seconds away from the nearest washroom.
3) WILD DOGS AND MAD HAWKS
It used to be really great to bike train in the rolling hills near Calgary on those hot, sunny Summer days.
However it does come with a few pitfalls.
There was this one farm that was right in the middle of my favorite hilly 90k training ride that was perfect for getting ready to tackle Richter’s Pass and the Yellow Lake Hill in Ironman Canada.
They had this dog that they never ever tied up. I mean why would they? After all it was a farm.
I used to crest this hill just as the farm came into sight and on the downward side I would put the pedal to the metal and try to maintain around 50k an hour as the road flattened out. The dog would always spot me just before I reached the front of the farm and would come charging down the driveway.
The race was on!
That dog was incredibly fast and had a ferocious bark but I knew that if I kept that speed up he would never catch me before he had enough and finally gave up.
I went as fast as I could for his safety as well as mine. I knew that if he ever got his nose or a paw into the spokes that it would be a major disaster for both of us.
Twice I had a Hawk come screaming down at me from behind and virtually bounce off my bike helmet. I think it was the same Hawk as it happened in about the same place on a country highway both times.
Several years later a race was organized in that same area called the “MAD HAWK” Triathlon.
I think that bird had a reputation.
So the #3 reason for triathlon training on a wind-trainer is to avoid unwanted encounters with assorted wild-life.
4) NEVER RUN OUT OF FOOD OR WATER ON YOUR TRAINING RIDE
Early in my Ironman career I had no idea how much food or water to take on those long rides.
I remember once when I was 70k from home and had no food and was almost out of water with still the return trip to go.
It was a ride from Hell getting back home that day as I had a massive energy crash.
When you are on your wind-trainer chances are you will have all the food and endless supply of water close at hand and never have to worry an energy crash from lack of fuel if you choose to do a long wind-trainer session.
5)BAD WEATHER WILL NOT IMPACT YOUR WIND-TRAINER BIKE TRAINING
In the Spring I would always have one eye on the sky when I was heading out for a training ride. Calgary, Alberta where I live is just an hour away from the Rocky Mountains.
I remember once when the black clouds came over those Rockies like a freight train. All I was doing was a 40k bike and I was just a few kilometers from the 20k turn-around and decided to go for it and then race the impending storm back to my car on the 20k return trip.
It was early May and it was a wet snow and howling wind that caught up with me when I was still 10k from my car. I really didn’t think I would make it as I got so cold so fast.
By the time I got to my car had virtually no feeling in my hands or toes as they took the brunt of the wet, driving snow.
It was all I could do to unlock my car door and get the car started. I had to use both hands.
That day was one of the reasons I began doing more Ironman Triathlon training rides on my wind-trainer. During those workouts I was guaranteed to be biking under perfect weather conditions.
6)THE BEST TRIATHLON TRANSITION TRAINING EVER
This is most likely one of the best reasons to incorporate as least 1 or 2 wind-trainer workouts to your triathlon training schedule.
One of the hardest things to deal with in a race like the Ironman Triathlon, or any triathlon for that matter, is making the transition from the bike to the run.
It is extremely challenging both mentally and physically to make that transition and the longer the race, the harder it is.
A great transition workout is to do about 45-60 minutes on your wind-trainer, slip on your running shoes and run for 8-10k. Because you are in your home and biking on a wind-trainer you can keep the transition time very short and that’s the key.
You want to have fatigue in your legs from the biking when you begin your run.
In 2 or 3 minutes you can go from the bike to the run and that will go a long way toward preparing you for that same transition on race day.
As you get nearer to the big race and have reached the stage where you are doing more mileage in your training, you can increase your wind-trainer bike and run times. For example you could bike 2 hours and run 15k for your major workout of the week.
The key is to keep that transition time really short and this type of workout will go a long, long way to getting you accustomed both mentally and physically to the bike/run transition on race day.
7)WIND-TRAINER INTERVAL TRAINING
Quite often I would try and do interval training out on the highway. For example I might do 90 seconds at a “faster than race” pace and then take a 30 second rest interval and repeat it 10 times.
That’s just an example.
Sometimes I would stretch those distances out as I hit the bigger months of Ironman triathlon training. For example I often did 5 minutes at a “faster than race” pace and rested for 2 minutes and then repeated 6-8 times.
The problem was that I would hit uphills and downhills and wind and winding roads and it was difficult to have any consistency in the effort.
On a wind-trainer that’s not a problem. You can gauge your interval training perfectly as there are never any terrain inconsistencies or adverse weather conditions to factor into the equation.
ISN’T WIND-TRAINER TRIATHLON TRAINING BORING?
You bet it can be boring and that might just be one of the major reasons that so many triathletes avoid it.
But as I have demonstrated, it certainly does have it’s advantages and can play a major role in your triathlon/ironman preparation.
Sometimes wind-trainer bike training is born out of necessity.
I got this email a few years ago from a fellow in the UK who was very definitely “Ironstruck” and wanted to reach the Ironman Triathlon finish line more than anything.
The problem was that he lived in a highly industrialized area and it was not very bike friendly.
I suggested he go get himself a wind-trainer and bike train in his home even if it meant 90% of his Ironman bike training took place in his living room.
I also suggested that as the race got nearer, he drive out of town if he had to in order to get in at least a few longer rides on his bike. This was more for his balance, bike-handling, and cornering skills as these are three things that are lacking from wind-trainer biking.
About a year later he sent me an email with a simple message. “Thank you. Today, I am an Ironman.”
One year as an experiment I used this very same bike training method while getting ready for another run at the Ironman. I did virtually all of my bike training on my wind-trainer in front of the television.
I had this 2-movie training session I did on my long bike-training days. I watched 2 movies and when they were over the ride was over.
I wanted to see what the difference would be doing the very same bike course one year to the next with most of the bike training out on the highway one year and on my wind-trainer the next.
To my great surprise I was just 10 minutes slower when I trained on my wind-trainer, so the times were virtually the same.