I am sorry that I have once again been a little MIA but uni is a little hectic. I just finished my major assignment for my IT Law class in which I came up with the idea for a sexting app (it's a long story but not what you think). So before I get into my death session on the trainer this afternoon I thought I would take the time to hit the keypad a few more thousand times for your reading pleasure. I want to talk about the not so glamorous side of training. I see it all the time, people posting photos on social media of their training session and they look like they have just left the makeup chair. Perfect hair and amazing skin. Not a drop of sweat and yet they have just done intervals or above threshold work. Either I am doing it wrong or they realise much like I do that no one is interested in the ugly sessions. I mean yes, people love to hear about the hard workouts but rarely do we want to display just how ugly they get. I do park run sometimes and even though it is only a 5km run, it kicks my butt every single time. One of the great things that park run does is they have photographers who get snaps of the runners and post them on Facebook. Oh wait, did I say great? I meant to say one of the embarrassing things because without fail, I can guarantee you I look fucking awful in every photo that is ever put up of me! Now I'm no male model like Mike Robinson, but I know I don't usually walk around dripping sweat with a bright red head wearing an expression of equal parts anger and agony. No, the truth is that I look awful in those pictures because I am busting a gut. I am working as hard as I can.
It is kind of funny when you think about it but we all like to present ourselves in the best possible light. We want to look confident, like we are in control. I find it hilarious when you talk with your friends after a race and they tell you they didn't find it difficult, "Mate I suggest you check out your face on finisherpix." But I do this too. I will go for a ride outside and end up at a beautiful lookout with waves crashing behind me. Snap, thats a good pic, I'll put that on my Instagram. 2 days earlier when I am in the middle of a death session on my trainer (like I am about to do and am maybe using this blog to procrastinate a little bit) I do not want to have a record of it. I do not think even if I had the desire I would physically be able to do it.
Let me paint you a word picture. I set up my trainer in my lounge room in front of my TV. I lay a yoga mat on the carpet. I then lay a giant beach towel on the yoga mat. I attach my bike and cover the bottom half of my trainer in a towel. I have a sweat protector I put on the frame of my bike. I have another towel which sits on my handlebars and guess what I have folded over the front wheel... Another towel. If the session is more than 2 hours I also have 2 spare towels and a change of clothes ready to go. I am training for races in Thailand so I have been wearing lots of clothes while I am on the trainer and I sweat like a pig. Honestly I loose litres and litres of sweat on the trainer. At the end of the session I strip down and put everything away naked (I bet you all love that mental image) and have a huge wet, smelly pile of clothes and towels which all go straight into the washing machine. Come on, I mean, if that doesn't get you a bit hot under the collar what will? The image is hideous. I sweat so much I can smell myself and it is disgusting. I am so wet that I cannot dry myself. I sometimes sweat so much that I finish a trainer ride with fingers more wrinkly than after an hour in the pool. There is nothing sexy about it at all.
Actually there is. The sexy thing about that session is that it is where I will make the majority of my improvements. I have been improving so much this year and one of the major reasons is the structured sessions I am able to do on my trainer. Outdoor rides are important for bike skills, endurance and in particular for your sanity but man I have become a significantly stronger athlete sweating up a storm in my lounge room. I got into the habit during Winter because I hate the cold and am now doing a number of my session on the trainer because I am scared of magpies. But the truth of the matter is that the trainer is actually an incredibly important tool. I see so many people who are short of time and will go for an hour ride in the mornings before they start work. That hour could be much better spent doing specific work on the trainer where you are able to control all of the variables. If I have a 2 hour ride to do, nine times out of ten I will opt for the trainer and pick a session to do because I know I am going to get much better bang for my buck doing it.
I understand that lots of people do not like to train indoors and I completely understand that (I hate the treadmill). I do however understand the value of these tools. Perhaps I am blessed that I am happy to train on the trainer. I have done sessions up to and over 4 hours on many occasions this year. The secret is to find the balance. There needs to be work done indoors as well as outdoors to develop the full set of skills to be successful. I think any athlete who refuses to do one or the other is doing themselves a great disservice. So no, there is nothing sexy about training indoors. There are no pretty pictures and no amazing water view at the end. I think the most offensive thing is that there are rarely post ride coffees or beers. But do you know what is sexy about training indoors? When you line up at your next race and finally crack a PB. I have gone from a 4.29 to a 4.22 70.3 this year. I took 3 minutes off my sprint PB and i finally cracked 80 minutes for a half marathon this year. So yeah there may be nothing sexy about the training but you better believe there is something incredibly satisfying about the results!
Have a ripper weekend, train indoors and remember to TRI!