Smart training will help you catch the pack.
You've signed up for your first triathlon and are eager to get out on your bike for training. However, the weather and your schedule don't always afford you the luxury of an outdoor ride. An indoor trainer that turns your outdoor bike into a stationary one is an ideal alternative, but pedaling along without a clear workout plan won't provide you with maximum performance benefits. Trainer workouts that help you build a cardiovascular base and hone form are especially valuable to a beginner.
Riding at a steady pace for 15 to 30 minutes at a solid effort builds stamina. Choose a gear that feels challenging, but doesn't make you feel breathless. Focus on smooth pedal strokes and a consistent cadence of 80 to100 rpm. If you want a longer workout, repeat the 15- or 30-minute steady pace allowing a five- or 10-minute easy spin out between the long segments.
Intervals for Race Power
Interval training prepares you for racing, where you'll have to charge past people at a high intensity or climb short hills at a fierce pace to keep your edge. Intervals also break up the monotony of indoor riding so you don't dread spending time on your trainer. Intervals could consist of two to five minutes of working in a high gear with near-maximum effort and then a recovery at an easy gear and speed for equal time. Repeat the drills three to 10 times, depending on the length of your desired workout. If you aren't a fan of watching the clock, turn on the television and perform your intervals during commercial breaks. You could also set up a playlist consisting of uptempo songs that play during your hard intervals, followed by more mellow songs for your recoveries.
Combine several form drills into one workout on the trainer. These drills help you become more efficient in your pedal stroke so you waste less energy during your race -- remember, you have to save something for the run. Spin-ups are a technique that help you develop a faster pedaling rate -- or cadence. Use a metronome to manage your pace. Start a two-minute spin-up drill at a cadence of 90 rpm for 30 seconds. Increase your pace to 100 rpm for the next 30, then to 105 and then go the fastest you can for the final 30 seconds with a smooth, non-bouncy ride. Pedal easily for 2 minutes and then repeat the drill three to five more times. Finish the ride with five or more 30-second, maximum-intensity drives at a high gear. Recover a minute between each of these.
Before and After Each Ride
Always warm up before you do the main portion of your workout. Pedal at a modest intensity for 10 to 12 minutes to increase blood flow to your working muscles and prepare your heart for the work to come. Spend another five minutes working on specific form drills, such as one-legged drills. To do a one-legged drill, unclip one foot and place it safely on the frame of your bike. Pedal smoothly with the opposite foot for 20 to 60 seconds and then switch legs. This drill helps build balanced strength between your legs so one side of your body isn't doing more of the work. After you've completed the main portion of your workout, cool down for 10 to 15 minutes at a moderate pace.