Long rides and home trainer

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    I just bought an home trainer for this winter and the new lockdown in France…

    And I’m wondering how can I replace or adapt the long rides. It’s difficult to stay more than 2h on the home trainer.

    Is that possible to split these long ride in 2 for example ?


    David Warden


    I’m hoping that our colleagues will chime in here with their tips on indoor riding.

    First of all, splitting the ride is totally acceptable. Don’t split it up into less than 2 hours, and try and keep the time between the two as short as possible. The longer the gap, the less effective the workout. An hour break will give you 95% of the full workout (just a guess, not an empirical conclusion) but a 2-hour gap will give you more like 85%.

    However, keep in mind that indoor riding is often much more effective because you are constantly pedaling, or at least pedaling more than outside. No stoplights, no descents, no cornering… it all adds up to a ride that actually can be more effective than outside, and so a break in between may not be as ineffective as I’m guessing.

    Some other tips:
    – Interval workouts make the workout feel shorter. When I give you a 3 hour easy ride in your plan, consider putting your 1-hour interval session into the middle 3-hour ride, and the easy hour replaces the mid-week interval session.
    – Break up the ride into 20-minute segments and just focus on the next 20 at any given time.
    – The Tiger King documentary. I swear that got me through some long, ugly COVID rides last winter…



    Hello David,

    Thanks for the tips !

    Yes indeed, the intervals make training more fun. I wonder if I would be able to put the same quality in these intervals if I do them in the middle of a long session ?

    I will give it a try soon ๐Ÿ™‚



    Is the expectation that on a trainer you should do the full duration of the workout in the plan (i.e. if the plan says 90 minutes, do 90 minutes), considering that the quality of the ride on the trainer, from a training perspective, is higher than out on real roads? Or do folks have a formula and reduce the ride time if the ride is on a trainer vs out on a road?

    I live in Brooklyn NY and, for a variety of reasons (traffic, road quality, safety, weather, etc.) do a majority of my riding on a trainer throughout the year, rather than on roads.

    David Warden


    Great observation. Chris Carmichael once told me that he felt that an indoor ride, given the same NP and duration, was 20% more difficult than outside. But, he also said it in the context that it should be viewed as a 20% bonus and not used to adjust the duration of the workout down.

    While it’s true there is less coasting during an indoor ride, you are not just training your muscular and cardiovascular systems: you are also training your brain to resist fatigue. Cutting a workout back by 20% robs you of this and several other intangible benefits. Therefore, we don’t recommend that you modify the duration of the workout when inside (but no harm in pretending you are caught at a light now and then…)



    Hello ๐Ÿ™‚

    You said about 20% more difficult but I feel like it’s much more ahahah

    I use your advise and indeed it helps. For instance, for CF17 which is a 2h30min ride with 70 minutes Z1, 70 minutes Z2 and 10 minutes Z1 I split these long intervals into in 3 x (20 minutes in Z1), 3 x (25 minutes Z2/3 minutes Z1), 10 minutes Z1.

    At the end, I don’t feel more tire than a “normal ride”, but it’s much harder mentally to stay focused. With 20 minutes intervals it’s easier.



    I donโ€™t have a lot different to add than David, but thought it might be encouraging to hear, so here goes.

    I do nearly all my rides on a Kickr since it came out almost a decade ago and then do some riding outdoors to sharpen up handling and practice transitions close to a race. I have also done some easy rides on rollers to work all those small balancing muscles you need.

    These are the things that get me through long sessions 2 hours plus (longest I ever did was 4 hours).

    1. Intervals are a huge mental break. Even if just a few watts up or down. If the workout will let you use the whole zone range then even better. I have done workouts with a locked wattage and they were terrible.
    2. Focus on a specific drill during each interval instead of mindlessly spinning. Single leg focus, heel-toe, smooth quadrants, standing-sitting, etc. Things that wonโ€™t change your ability to hold power, but will give you something to focus on.
    3. Netflix or whatever movie/shows that you are really interested in make the time fly.
    4. If more than 2 hours then I often will take a quick stretch, fluid refill, bathroom break every time I need it past that 2 hour mark, within reason. I figure a few minutes here or there, so I get the workout done is a good trade. Also, outside would have way more dead time most likely.
    5. Gradually build up to that time. You will get used to it, but jumping up in time too fast will be difficult mentally. Easier if it is only 15 minutes longer than last time to convince yourself to hang on.

    Also, in my experience if the rest of your training is going well then a gap of whatever you need to complete the rides wonโ€™t make a big difference in the long run. Again not the best option, but if the alternative is a 4 hour ride becoming 2 instead then I figure it is a good trade.

    If you can tough it out mentally though, you will be really prepared for any race because of that mental toughness from the trainer.

    Good luck.


    Hello BarryD,

    and thanks for your advices and feedback, it’s very interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m already using intervals for those long rides and indead is super usefull. I will definitively give a try to your point 2. Like for a swimming workouts, it can be very useful to use some on these intervals to focus on drills, I like the idea ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks a lot ! ๐Ÿ˜‰


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