I have a love-hate relationship with both indoor and outdoor training. Both are very important for run, bike and swim training, and there are definitely pros and cons to both. Living in Northwest Ohio, I am forced by the weather conditions to train inside for about six months of the year, so I have learned to maximize my time indoors. Since the outdoor training season feels so short, I like to plan to make the best of it, as well. With a well-built plan, and knowing how to make the most of your time indoors and outdoors, you can also maximize your training sessions.
When it comes to cycling indoors, I like the trainer in my basement for a several reasons: 1. The basement is temperature controlled, which is a plus when considering the number of cold and wet days in Northern Ohio. The lack of wind is a plus, too. 2. If I only have an hour to train, I can jump on the trainer without much preparation and I don’t have to worry about going out too far and not making it back in time for whatever is on my calendar for the day. 3. It is easier to control the exact workout that I want to do. I can dial in wattage that I want without worrying about the elevation changes of the road. 4. There’s no worrying about wrecking or getting hit by a car. That’s always a real concern when cycling outdoors. 5. I can catch up on bike races on YouTube or other TV shows, on easy days.
The benefits of cycling outdoors are many: 1. The change of scenery as I ride makes things much less boring than the scenery (or lack of scenery) in my basement. 2. Changes in elevation make me focus on shirting, changing pedal cadence, in addition to working on sitting and standing form on the bike. 3. The changes in speed and direction of the wind makes me work my core balance on the bike. 4. Riding outside builds my bike handling skills. 5. Practicing eating, drinking and refilling my aero bottle while biking outdoors helps prepare me for race day. 6. Cycling outdoors forces me to ride in different weather conditions. 7. Long rides outside builds the mental strength needed for long bike races and triathlons, as well as powering through cold, windy and long solo days. 8. Fresh air and sunlight is healthy for everybody.
For the run, it is much the same as the bike. The only major difference for me is that I can run outdoors before the sun comes up. I do not do dark bike rides. I never ride early mornings, or late in the evenings. The majority of my outdoor rides are done in the afternoon, even when it’s extremely hot out. I have friends that will ride when it’s dark, but it’s not for me. The swim is much the same, as well. There is definitely some security in pool swimming. If you have access to a good place to do open water swim training it can be a benefit, but I am unaware of places in my area where I can practice open water swimming. My family and I do head to Lake Erie on occasion during the summer months, but those trips are sporadic, and the YMCA pool is a constant.
When it comes to doing brick training sessions in the winter, most are completely done indoors. For those winter brick sessions, I will bike and run at the YMCA. If it’s mild enough outdoors I will spin on the trainer at home and then run outside. I am not one to risk running outside if there are conditions that may be slippery. I’ve survived many injuries and don’t care to push my luck. Once spring comes I obviously prefer to do my brick workouts outside. It’s the best way to prepare for possible race conditions, and who wants to train indoors when it’s nice out?