Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My New Bike Trainer and My New Training Lessons

Around Christmas, Josh mentioned that he'd considered giving me a bike trainer but wasn't sure if I'd want one so he decided against it. I was glad he didn't because, obviously, the stylish sweatclothes he gave me were much prettier and I didn't really think I'd use it. I love to do my workouts outside and that is final.

This is me biking outdoors, in Central Park.

But a seed was planted and the more I thought about biking and training this winter, the more I realized how impossible it would be to ride a bike regularly outdoors. The days are too short and sometimes it's just way too cold. But I longed for a means to bike through the winter months. So, last week, I gave in and bought one as a late Christmas present to myself.

For anyone not familiar with what a trainer is, it is a cycling accessory that allows you to mount your own bike so that you can ride it indoors, just like a stationary bike. I looked all over amazon and after non-extensive research, I chose the bell motivator because it was the least expensive one I could find and it had good reviews.

I set the contraption up on Sunday and Josh and I both tested it out on our respective bikes. There is no assembly required and it is very easy to mount your bike onto. However, we found that it works much better with a bike that doesn't have a quick release rear wheel. It supports the bike by screwing into the rear wheel axle so an older bike with bolts on the axle stays in place much better than one with a quick release lever. Josh rode on and off for about 20 minutes and his bike slipped out of place twice when he readjusted his position.

Here is an unflattering photo of Josh's toes looking like aliens.

I rode Lucy for 45 minutes and she remained sturdy the entire time. I found that I definitely got a good leg workout but that I got kind of bored. Riding this machine is no fun compared to riding a bike outside. I watched Friends while I rode but the bike makes a lot of noise (about on par with a vacuum cleaner) so it was hard and annoying to hear. Still, I am glad that my summer training can begin now and that I have a good indoor cardio workout option for rainy or snowy days.

Here is an unflattering, poor quality photo of me looking at the TV, not the camera.
I didn't get too sweaty during the ride and I felt like I hadn't worked all that hard. But I could tell within an hour of finishing that the burn in my legs was not going to subside without a fight. When I made impromptu Tuesday evening yoga plans with a friend, I figured there would be no harm in moving my weekly tempo run up a day and doing it last night. So I got home from work and set out to do my traditional 5 miles of tempo: warm-up, sub-9, sub-8, sub-9, cool down. In the first mile, though, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. It turns out that I hadn't gotten the most amazing cardio workout on the trainer but I had worked my quad muscles pretty damn hard and they were in no mood to run a mile in under 8 minutes.

Thumbs down for these sore legs.

My watch beeped at the end of mile 1 and I decided to go for the fast mile right then. I felt like I was running a 7:01 but I looked at my gamin and it read 7:56. My legs were jello, like they could give out at any minute. I altered my running plan and decided to finish this first loop and run home but to push it the rest of the way.

I ran those last two miles right around an 8 minute pace and it felt harder than the final, steeply uphill mile of my 9 mile training run last weekend did. I felt a little bit like a quitter but I knew it was the smart thing to do. I can do without a tempo run this week as my legs adjust to this combination of biking and running.

I love you legs. I want to make this work for both of us.

The trainer is obviously going to take some getting used to and isn't going to fit into my training schedule as effortlessly as I'd expected. But I have no doubt that, once I figure out how to train these quads for biking and running simultaneously, I'll be a much better and stronger athlete overall. I am indescribably more impressed by all the triathletes I read about doing brick workouts on the regular. That is a form of badass that I hope to claim for myself one day.

For now my best claim to badass fame is that I, with Josh, am practically keeping Vace's, our local Italian Deli, in business. Their pizza and focacia sandwiches are all I ever want after a good sweat. And that is carbo-loading at its finest.


  1. I got a bike trainer for Christmas and I really like it but I do get really bored on it. I think I need to find some actual workouts to do instead of just riding it for however long

  2. What do you think about your bike trainer compared to a typical recumbent exercise bike? I've been considering getting a trainer since they seem really nice, and since my exercise bike takes up so much space.