Indoor Riding

 

Riding indoors is punishment to some, but it's something I've become accustomed to over the last 5 years.  The last month of training has included a weekly 4 hour indoor ride at a high intensity, tougher than any Ironman ride.  Whilst the breakdown of my long sessions differ from week to week, todays ride comprised of threshold and half-ironman paced efforts, with short rest intervals.  Here's a sneak peak into my 'office':

 

The set-up

 

What you see in the picture above is pretty simple.  The fan is roughly one foot away from my face, the laptop just far away enough that it doesn't end up drenched in sweat, and of course, the Ironman South Africa age-group trophy instills extra motivation.  But that's not all that's required - you need water... and a lot of it.
The aftermath...
Including the bottle on the table, that's 5 litres of fluid and roughly 1000 calories required to get through the session.  I'd drink more, but I'm limited by the number of bottles I own!  Additional salt tablets are another necessity to replenish the minerals lost through sweating.
There's a few things you don't see in the pictures, like the overhead ceiling fan or the air conditioning unit - did I mention that you get hot training indoors!?  If there's no cooling devices then I'll struggle to get through a recovery session without heart rate escalating and sweat rate going through the roof.  Two pairs of socks are required, not to double up, but to change half way through the session.  For the long sessions I take my Extreme Endurance immediately before and immediately after the workout, just to keep those dead legs at bay.  Music, podcasts and youtube videos (of past Ironman races) are the order of the day during the workout.  
If you've got the motivation and will power, indoor training is brilliant.  There's no downhills or coasting, just constant pedaling.  I'll admit that it's one of the most boring things you can possibly do, but if you break down the session into structured intervals then time will pass by more quickly.  The mental aspect is not to be overlooked.  Long indoor rides will likely leave you wanting to take up golf and walk away from triathlon, but they give you a mental fortitude that you can draw upon in races.  If you can do 5 hours indoors (speaking from experience it's not for the faint hearted), then 112 miles will seem easy.  Having said that, I'm looking forward to the next long ride outdoors!