My Arch Nemesis: Indoor Trainer Workout #2

There are three workouts each week that give me pause.  Not surprisingly, all three are long.  Not necessarily hard or painful – just…long.  They are:

  1. Tuesday 20-miler (technically it’s a 2 hr 30m run, but it ends up being about 20 miles each week)
  2. Sunday long bike (generally 5-7 hours, plus travel time to the mountains)
  3. Friday Indoor Trainer #2…which, is what this post is about today.

During a normal week I have three bike sessions (well, technically four if you count the 30 minute spin after the Tuesday long run, but I don’t count that).  In addition to the two rides noted above I also have a Wednesday trainer ride.  This post is all about Indoor Trainer #2.  Cause that’s what it’s called on my training sheets – abbreviated simply as IT2.  So what is IT2?  Well, let’s go through the rundown:

:10 warm up

[Working on stroke]
Then Z2 @ 50 rpm for following
:02  Backstroke
:02  Upstroke
:02  Over the Top
:02  Down stroke
:02  Total Stroke

[One legged]
5 x 30” / 30”  1-legged Z2 @ 70- 80 rpm (:05 total)

[High Cadence]
:03 Z2 rpm @ 100
:01 Z2 @ 100 rpm
:01 Z2 @ 105 rpm
:01 Z2 @ 110 rpm
:01 Z2 @ 115 rpm
:01 Z2 @ 120 rpm
:01 Z2 @ 125 rpm 
:02 Z2 @ 95 rpm

[The fun begins…]
:09 Z4a @ 95 rpm…round 1
:02 easy spin
:09 Z4a @ 95 rpm…round 2
:02 easy spin

:09 Z4b @ 95 rpm…round 3
:02 easy spin
:09 Z4b @ 95 rpm…round 4
:02 easy spin

:05 Z5a @ 95 rpm…round 5
4 x (alternating 20” @ Z4b watts +~150W with 1’40” easy @ 95 rpm) (translated: ~500W for 20 seconds, and then 100 seconds easy spin, then repeat for a total of four times)

:10 Cool down

Yes…all of that.  It totals 1 hour and 43 minutes.  The first part is relatively easy.  It’s all Zone 2 (based on HR), so it’s mostly warming up everything.  It’s just a matter of focusing on the different drills.  I love the high cadence stuff.  On IT1 (the other trainer workout each week), I get to do the pyramid a few times – loads of fun!  High cadence rocks!


(My July 4th IT2 workout, click to see detail)

But the fun ends shortly after the high cadence stuff.  At which point I select a wattage on the CompuTrainer that will put me in a given HR zone within a few minutes and keep me there for the duration of the set.  This means:

Rounds 1/2: 280W
Rounds 3/4: 290-300W
Round 5: 300-310W
Rounds 6-9: 470-530W

But it’s really those primary four long sets where my arch nemesis lives.  My heart rate is in Z4 territory, and my legs are pushing fairly high wattage (for me anyway – I know you clydes can push that with your pinky, but little ole me at 166lbs…not so much).  It’s not until about 4 minutes or so into the first set that you realize you still have a long way to go – nearly an hour actually.

After I’m done going through the four sets of 9 minutes each, I still have the five minute set. At this point I can see the finish line, so things are much better.  But before getting to the finish I have to essentially climb four hills.  That’s what that final section of 4x500W is.  It’s like pushing up a hill or pushing past someone in a short race (note: you don’t want to be pushing 500W in an Ironman).

During these sets I quickly ramp up to 500W in about 5 seconds, and then maintain it for a full 20 seconds before ramping back down again over a period of another 5 seconds.  Then I get to lazily spin along at 95RPM until the next set starts 1 minute and 40 seconds later.  Repeat three more times…then it’s time to easy spin for 10 minutes as a cool down.  My coach noted that the MOST IMPORTANT part of any workout is the cool down.  And it makes sense, this is where you keep things moving to avoid buildup of lactate in your muscles – among other things.

IMG_7547 800 x 533

Once I’m done on the trainer, I upload the data file to Training Peaks where the coach evaluates it and within a few hours tells me what I did well or not so well.

Normally I’m not a big TV person while on the trainer.  I can usually do it all with just XM radio on in the background, but today I felt like TV.  My only real choice early afternoon was Tomb Raider…I’ve never seen it before…and after nearly 2 hours watching it…I’m still not sure what it’s about exactly.  But, it made the time go by fast.

IMG_7542 1024 x 650

*Ok, to explain why there are two TV’s.  First – because I have the CompuTrainer screen on one, and then the TV programming on the other.  Also, I test a lot of consumer electronic TV devices for work and sometimes they don’t…work.  So it’s helpful to be able to still watch TV when they don’t work.  And in case your wondering, that’s the workout tacked to the wall on my right.

After that, I relaxed around the house and then headed down to the mall (as in the National Mall, not like the shopping mall) with a group of friends to watch the fireworks.  It’s hard to beat watching fireworks in Washington DC in front of the Washington Monument.  Good times!

IMG_7581 799 x 533


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  1. sorry, townhouse!

  2. Gosh, I have zero motivation to get on the trainer in the summer!

  3. I don’t know how you do it…2 hours on the trainer on the 4th? Maybe, MAYBE on the 4th of February, but in July? Now that is motivation.

    Hope you didn’t get too wet watching the fireworks. I stayed in VA, just across the river at Iwo Jima, to watch.

  4. what kinda of trainer thing do you have that uploads bike data for you? I’ll be looking into one for next season… i have a trainingpeaks coach account and 10 free client accounts so i can send out workouts to my students. haven’t had a chance to use them much yet though…

  5. its no accident that you are doing well in the sport…

    you hit the workouts do them right…

    and your doesn’t get any better than fireworks by the monument… cool

  6. How can you get on that trainer during the summer… I thought it was for the winter!

    Glad you enjoyed the fireworks over the Washington Monument :)

  7. First – GREAT GREAT photo of the fireworks! Wow!! That is just stunningly beautiful!

    Second – great job with your training. I am so excited at your progress and I can’t wait to see how your next few races go.

    Third – wow on the training. That’s crazy. I hate trainer workouts. They are SO FREAKING HARD!!! Granted, they’re good for you, but damn, they cause me so much suffering! You say you like the high cadence sets, but usually my coach has me doing a slightly higher hr on those, which basically means I’m in a harder gear (aka hill) and by the end of the set I feel like I’m going to DIE. Ugh.

    Anyway, my point is – good on you. :)

    SO here’s my question for you – do you have a separate wheel you use for the trainer? My tires get so messed up with that thing…I’m thinking I just need to get a separate wheel that I can throw on there so I don’t worry about the wheel OR the tire. Just wondering what you do, given that your trainer workouts are way longer than mine…

    Keep up the awesome work!!!

  8. Yup, I use a seperate wheel for my trainer. Well, I just use the stock wheel and then for outdoor stuff I use race wheels. For me getting used to the feeling of the wind, while descending at 40MPH through mountains is more important than any wear on the race wheels. The IMC course has a number of major descents and I need to practice and get my descending and wind handling better. With the tri-spoke and deep rim design, it dramatically decreases my wind handling capabilities.

    But obviously indoors I just go to stock. I got some more rugid training tires for it, and I’ve been able to put 3-4 trainer workouts a week on it without issue all year long.

  9. Where’s Indoor Training Workout #1?