How to get the most out of your time in your 'pain cave'

By Chris Knight | 12 Minute Read

The prospect of training indoors can be unappealing for some athletes, regardless of how much you've invested in your set-up.

To help get you through those mind-numbing but invaluable indoor sessions, we've asked some elite athletes with PH in their bottles to give us their advice on training indoors.

From 'must-have' kit, to the podcasts and Netflix shows that should be on your playlist when you're next on the turbo, there are some great nuggets of info to help you get more out of training..

 

1. To start off, what's your best piece of advice for anyone who's training indoors?

Sarah Crowley, two-time podium finisher at the IM World Championship following her 3rd place effort at Kona in 2019:
Get on Zwift and do your efforts in 90-minute 'free workout' mode. It flattens the course but adjusts your speed instead, so you can control the effort whilst still getting to cruise around on one of the best indoor training platforms out there. 


4 x Paralympian Claire Cashmore, who enjoyed another stellar season in 2019 as she finished the year as the reigning World and British champion:
Make sure you have Netflix, a good podcast, music or someone to keep you entertained, because it could be a long winter without those things!


3 x Norseman Xtreme Triathlon winner Allan Hovda, who's the record holder for the fastest Norwegian IM distance time:

Treat yourself - indoor training can be hard enough as it is, that's without taking into account the loud turbo, hot environment and lack of entertainment.

Ultimately, invest in good gear and surroundings.

 

 

IM 70.3 Jönköping winner Claire Hann is looking forward to the off season:
I actually love my turbo sessions. I like not having to worry about routes or traffic and just being able to focus on the session.

I always break the session down into intervals or even longer aerobic rides where I try to vary the watts within a certain range. A long session is easier mentally and much less boring when you can break it down into distinct sections.

Chris Palfreyman - finished 7th in 30-34 Age Group at ITU Long Distance World Championships:
Understand why you're doing it! Fully understanding the objective and reason for doing that session will help you get through the dark times, of which there will surely be plenty! A good addition is some 90's hip hop music... [if you say so, Chris!]


Hamish Reilly, winner of the 2018 Leeds Castle Sprint Triathlon:

Like most athletes, I prefer training outdoors. I find it much more interesting, but when the hard sessions that have to be done on the turbo arrive, my advice would be to try and find a training partner to suffer with you, or listen to some music to take your mind off the pain!


Sub-9 hour IM finisher Taylor Rogers, who finished 1st in his Age Group in his first ever full-distance race in Barcelona:

One of the primary advantages of indoor training (as I see it) is effective time management and consistency in training environment.

However, getting outdoors or in an unfamiliar environment from time to time is good to make one deal with the 'little' things that come up, so you're mentally prepared come race day to deal and adapt to any small setbacks.

 

2. What's the one bit of kit you can't do without when training indoors?

Claire Cashmore:
Definitely my headphones - turbos can be pretty noisy so I need to be able to hear my music.


Chris Palfreyman:
Power meter on the bike. I would struggle to do any specific sessions without that and it's the best investment I have made in triathlon.


Claire Hann:

A good turbo trainer, I absolutely love my Wahoo. The direct drive makes it feel much more like riding outside and being able to program it makes sessions really easy.


Allan Hovda:

Can I have three things? My Tacx Neo turbo, my huge industrial fan, and my Jabra Elite 65t earbuds.


Taylor Rogers:

A supportive partner - it's a cliché but having a partner who supports and understands your commitment to your sport is key. The rest is just 'stuff'.


ETU Middle Distance European Champion, Kat Rye:

Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap - I do a lot of my training in HR zones.


Hamish Reilly:

A towel! Without one it gets very sweaty!


Neil Eddy (ITU Long Course AG World Champion):

iPad or TV - for me I need some distraction as I’m an outdoor person and watching something can be a way of helping to get the session done

 

3. What's the best 'value for money' piece of equipment you own?

Claire Cashmore:
A fan to keep you cool as it tends to get very sweaty! 


Claire Hann:

A good turbo trainer that you actually enjoy riding is absolutely vital. My Wahoo wasn't cheap but it's worth every penny.


Chris Palfreyman:

Garmin watch. Yes, it's an expensive investment at the time, but 5 years later I am still with the same watch and it's turned into my most loyal training partner for every swim, bike, run session. It always keeps me honest and accountable to my coach who sees all the data online.


Kat Rye:

Quality hairbands!


Neil Eddy:

Extra drinks bottles for all the Precision Hydration electrolytes you need to help cope with your high sweat output. 


Hamish Reilly:

It may seem obvious, but just having a few full PH bottles with you is the best equipment you could have to accompany a great indoor session.


Allan Hovda:

It's not an inexpensive bit of kit but I have to say my Tax Neo is working out as value for money.

 

View this post on Instagram

Do I define this as indoor or outdoor cycling????

A post shared by Allan Hovda (@allanhov) on

 

Taylor Rogers (another Tacx Neo fan):
While expensive, the Tacx Neo trainer allows me to get so much of my riding done indoors and this has given me the chance to train when best suits, which in turns ensures I get the absolute best out of that time.

 

4. For people who are struggling to put together their perfect 'Pain Cave', do you have any handy hints for saving space if you have a small training space?

Allan Hovda:
l live in a small apartment with my wife and four-year-old son and know all about the need for saving space. My turbo folds nicely in the small space between the couch and the wall. The fan, bike mat, and note stand (for having my computer on) all fit under the couch.

Having it that way means I can convert my living room into my training room in 5 minutes and back again when needed.


Sarah Crowley:

Bike hooks that hook your bikes vertically are a great space saver. You could always go top to tail if you have more than two bikes.

 

Sarah Crowley IM Kona Podium

 

Taylor Rogers:
With our 'second' bedroom effectively a bike room for training, I don't have one tool or piece of equipment that saves space. I do have a very specific plan for where things can go and how to pack everything up when not being used so that we can host guests with ease though.

Having an idea of the next day/week/training block is coming up also allows me to mentally prepare for which pieces of kit I might need access to so that I don't waste time sorting through storage boxes at 6am before a session.


Claire Hann:

I don't have a big enough house to have a dedicated indoor training 'pain cave' like lots of triathletes on Instagram seem to have!

I have my turbo trainer at the far end of my kitchen. It's not ideal, but it's out of the way, with a 'moppable' floor and it's very close to lots of snacks...!

You don't need a high tech or glamorous set up to get good quality work done.


Hamish Reilly:

Keep things organised and tidy, that way even the smallest of 'pain caves' looks huge!


Claire Hann:

Get your setup up sorted in advance of your session. This could mean setting up the night before so when you come home from work there is no faffing, you can get in and jump straight on.


Chris Palfreyman:

If you're struggling for space, my best advice is to get rid of anything which isn't triathlon-related...Who needs a dining room table anyway?!

 

5. And finally, what are the best things to watch and listen to in order to help while away those indoor hours?

Sarah Crowley:
Anything not related to triathlon, I have enough of that in my day job ;)


Allan Hovda:

It depends on the session. Hard effort requires 'hard' entertainment, such as action movies or upbeat music.

Otherwise, I often go to endurance-related stuff on YouTube, like Global Triathlon Network, when on the turbo. On the run I often listen to training-related podcasts like That Triathlon Show, Marginal Gains, Endurance Innovation or Purple Patch podcast.

There's also a lot of great books out there on audio-format like Endure by Alex Hutchinson, Range by David Epstein and many of the biographies of athletes.


Claire Cashmore:

I enjoy listening to podcasts and a few of my favourites are The Brick Session, How To Fail, the Rich Roll Podcast, No Such Thing As A Fish, Happy Place, and Beyond Today.


Claire Hann:

I tend to listen to a variety of playlists on Spotify, depending on my mood and planned session! My choice of music is embarrassingly cheesy..


Kat Rye:

For me, educational podcasts are my go-to choice as it feels like an added bonus to the session.

 

Katrina RyeSource: James Mitchell ©

 

Chris Palfreyman:
I watch my Garmin computer for power numbers when on the turbo and I blast out 90's hip hop. Try it!


Taylor Rogers:

The Office, Friends, West Wing, Family Guy.... I really enjoy anything as long as it has or had a long series run.

I especially enjoy watching shows I've already seen because it makes it easier to zone in and out, while focusing on training with a bit of background noise.


Hamish Reilly:

If I'm doing an easy session I love to stick on some Netflix; I'm currently watching Bodyguard again! However, if it's a tough session I like to listen to music with a high beat to keep me pushing on!


Neil Eddy:

I do like to listen to podcasts, all sport-related, and sometimes I watch sport live if I get the timing of the session right.

 

Thanks Team PH. Hopefully there's some handy tips to help get you through your off season indoors (... it's not that long until the start of a new season brings sunshine and a more appealing chance to train in the great outdoors!). 

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