It’s getting to be that time of year: Trainer Time

If you live in a colder climate, you are slowly admitting to yourself that it is trainer time.  The roads are icing over, paths are covered in snow and 30 mph wind gusts from the west are something you’d rather not meet.  Chances are you’ve pulled the trusty old trainer out from the depths of your basement, dusted it off and screwed the rear wheel on tight.

A bike workout appears on your schedule.  Reluctantly you head downstairs.  There it is – the trainer.

Maybe you’ve found yourself standing there, staring at your bike engaged in a silent battle of: I would rather clean my kitchen floor with my tongue than ride you for more than 1 hour

No matter how long you stand there at some point you will have to accept that there is no other choice but the indoor trainer ride.  Especially if you are training for an early season long course race.

What to do?

Well, folks, I have a (training) plan.

Forget the fancy computers, power meters or tools.

The only thing you need for this plan is:

A movie

Cold weather indoor trainer cyclists know that the only way to survive a trainer ride is through multimedia entertainment.  The longer the ride, the more multisensory your entertainment needs to be.  For example, you could survive a 60 minute ride with music only but anything over that requires something both visual and auditory.

Enter:  the movie.  Movies are an excellent way to entertain you and pass the time during the dreaded trainer ride.  But more than just entertainment, did you know that your movie choice can correlate to your heart rate?  Did you realize that you could use the movie to push you or calm your effort down?  Did you realize that movies can be part of your annual training plan?

Yes, my friends, the movie is perhaps the most underutilized indoor cycling training tool around.

Find out for yourself.  Where to begin?  Every good season starts with a test.  Have your spouse hold your heart rate monitor.  Then, watch 2 minute snippets of movies to see how they influence your heart rate.  Be sure to include a wide range of flicks; drama, comedy, horror, action, children’s, sci-fi, spaghetti western, you name it, watch it to see how your heart rate responds.  Spouse records your heart rate, then you set your movie-based heart rate zones.

Let’s say you want an easy ride – then you know it’s time to pull out Ice Castles.  A feel good move in all aerobic zones?  Love Actually.  Something that keeps you in steady zone 3 suspense – Sixth Sense. Anaerobic intervals to get you to zone 5?  Pop in Speed.  Building tolerance for doing freakishly stupid things (like riding 112 miles in an Ironman) – pedal at 100 rpms while watching The Brave Little Toaster.  By the end of the season you could have an entire library of workouts coordinated with your DVDs.

The best part – none of them have to include Troy Jacobsen.

Now that you have your testing done, it’s time to create actual workouts.  Here’s an example from my own training.  Last year I was given a 3 hour trainer ride in heart rate zones 1 to 2.  This proved to be most challenging as I was watching Twin Peaks.  If you have never seen Twin Peaks, it’s a bizarre twist of fantasy and mystery.  I was so confused by what  was going on in the movie that I found myself leaning towards the television while slow pedaling in zone 1 trying to figure out – is she talking to a log?  Is that creamed corn?  And, what’s with the one armed man?

Yet with a little planning on my part, that workout could have been pure quality.  For example, plot line has a one-armed man?  Perfect opportunity to add a one-legged drill.  Every time someone eats a piece of cherry pie or a donut, sprint for 30 seconds to burn it off.  Every time you see Leland’s face, pedal slowly @ 60 rpms, every time you see BOB’s face, max sprint to get away.

Muscle tension intervals @ 50 – 60 rpms while your heart rate never exceeds zone 2?  Ever watched The English Patient?  It’s a slow, long, painful slog that makes you wonder if you will be a medical patient of your own boredom and insanity. By then end of this two hour and forty-two snoozefest, the dull ache in your legs will match the one in your head.

Three-plus hour endurance ride with rolling terrain?  Lord of the Rings – first I’m scared then I’m happy then I’m sad then I’m scared again, the movie moves fast then it moves slow, Golumb freaks me out, Hobbits make me happy, now they have the ring, now they don’t have the ring.  By the end of this epic film, your cadence and power will look like a Middle-Earth mountain range.

Genre of mystery – can you pedal while holding your breath?  I don’t know, let’s find out.  But first, can you sign this waiver.  Because I disavow myself from any medical responsibility here.

Scheduled for a workout with jumps out of the saddle?  Every time hockey is mentioned in Happy Gilmour, jump for 15 seconds.  Not a big fan of Adam Sandler?  Take your jumps every time someone cusses in Superbad.  Or every time you see the Magnum look in Zoolander.

Watched Dodgeball?  The 4D’s were dodge, duck, dive, dodge.  Switch it up cycling style and you sit, stand, spin, stomp for 15 seconds every time they mention the 4D’s.

What about a set of 3 x (3 x 30 second form sprints), repeat 3 times through with 3 minutes recovery in between each set?  We’ve all seen those sets.  You’re doing the same thing over and over and over again.  The perfect movie for that?  You guessed it – Groundhog Day.

Looking for a movie with a soundtrack you can ride to?  Born in the 50’s?  American Graffiti.  Child of the 70’s?  Saturday Night Fever.  If the 80s was your bread and butter, The Wedding Singer offers the best retro soundtrack around – while you spin round, round, round baby….

Got a set of rollers?  Throw in Borat.  Every time Borat says something socially inappropriate, close your eyes in disbelief and see if you can ride without falling off.

How about a Reverse Pyramid of 12/10/8/6/4 minutes @ tempo pace?  Ever watched a movie in reverse?  Try Memento.

Not just limited to movies, you can plan meaningful training sessions using movie stars.  Choose a Vince Vaughn movie, a famous fast talker.  Old School, Swingers, Wedding Crashers.  Do a spin up from the point he starts talking to the time he stops talking.  Recover, then do it again.

Cruise intervals, 5 x 6 minutes at your FTP (60 minute) power pace while watching any movie with Tom Cruise.  Risky Business, Jerry Maguire, Top Gun.  Extended cruise intervals?  Watch Magnolia – all 3 hours and 8 minutes of it.

Action movies are perfect for attacks.  Every time someone shoots a gun in Die Hard, do a 30 second big gear attack, up and out of your saddle then return to a zone 2 pace.  Better yet – for Hitchcock fans, when the birds attack in The Birds, you attack your pedals.

Trying to improve your V02max?  Pedal along while singing out loud to these musicals; The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Grease.  Added bonus if you prop your front wheel up 6 inches with a few phone books while grinding at 60 rpms during Climb Every Mountain – and singing.

Force repetitions are next.  Choose a child’s movie.  Any movie.  I know, you’re a grown adult and I’m forcing you to watch it.  FORCE!  Chances are like most children’s movie it will contain the ever repetitious theme of animals that talk.  So every time an animal does talk, do 15 – 20 revolutions at 50 rpms.

You want to be sure all of your indoor cycling is paying off, right?  Perform your 60 minute functional threshold test while watching Fight Club.  Every time someone gets punched, spin up to 95 rpms without shifting gears.  Thirty minutes into this test you might find yourself going to your Spirit Cave just to make it through but remember “This is your pain.  Don’t go to your cave.”

In just a few months, you’ll have a winter’s worth of quality bike training in your legs.  The best part – you never had to leave your house.  So get the trainer tire on your rear wheel, crank the resistance up, put on the extra padded shorts, fill your bottles with sports drink, grab a towel and gear up for a real ride.

It’s show time.