Your Awesome Training Cave for Winter

author : Team BT
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How to create an indoor training space that makes you want to do the miles

Triathletes often love the outdoor aspects of this sport:
Running in the summer sun.
Cycling along beautiful roads with the wind at our backs.
Swimming across a lake as the sun comes up.

For many of us in the northern hemisphere, those are just memories now. Those that haven't already seen snow or cold temperatures are bracing for them.

Even for those in temperate climates, having an indoor training setup can be valuable for those days when the child care schedule, traffic, time constraints or foul weather prevent an outdoor workout.

Not everyone has the luxury of an indoor training space, but there's a lot to be said for a $50 bike trainer and a fold up table for your laptop.

Here are some quick tips for setting up an indoor training space.


OK, hardly anyone can have their own indoor swimming facility. Endless Pools are really cool, and maybe someday we will be able to afford both the space and the pool. But today is not that day.

Meanwhile, stretch cords and weights can be used to simulate swimming movements and strengthen the swimming muscles. A printout of the lap lane schedule at the nearest indoor pool can go on the wall to tempt you. If you haven't found a YMCA or JCC or a high school pool open for master's swimming in the early morning, maybe it's time for a quick Google search to see if anything has changed.


This one is a little easier and more affordable. If you're a triathlete, you already have a bike, and you are already storing it somewhere. If you can find a space that is two feet wide and six feet long, you can bike indoors for almost free. With the advent of super-cool, virtual reality smart trainers that measure everything and simulate hills, regular old boring trainers have become cheap, and there are plenty on the used market, too. For as little as $50, you can snap up a used fluid trainer (They are heavy! Buy local and avoid shipping!) and put it in the corner. Unfold it before your ride, pump up your tire, and fit your rear wheel into the device. Prop up your front wheel on the block that came with it (or really any stable surface), and ride! This works better when you have a screen in front of you so you can watch cycling videos or just plain movies.

Tip: Do not use the brakes when on the trainer. Just let the wheel stop spinning on its own. You'll put too much stress on the brakes. They aren't meant to go up against the momentum of a heavy flywheel.

Tip: If your bike has any exposed screws, nuts, cabling or openings along the top, cover them with a towel while you ride. Out on the road, your sweat dries in the wind or flies behind you. In the house, it just falls down and can cause rust.

Tip: Fluid trainers are the most quiet, magnetic are the second most quiet, and fan/wind trainers are loud. Do a test by having someone pedal your bike on the trainer and see if it is too loud for your roommates, neighbors, etc.

Tip: The resistance wheel that presses against your tire to create resistance will eventually wear down your tire. If you'll be indoors all winter, change the tire and put on a thick, smooth trainer tire. If you switch back and forth a lot, you might even want a designated trainer wheel you can take on and off, or look at a more expensive trainer that doesn't require the back wheel to be on.

We found our favorite "pain cave" photo submitted by a BeginnerTriathlete user. This user had to move their equipment to accommodate a houseguest, and squeezed into the baby's room. They reported that the spinning wheel put the baby right to sleep.


This one can be tricky.

A treadmill is handy, but it's also loud and expensive and requires a certain amount of headroom. Many basements don't have high enough ceilings to accommodate a decent treadmill with adjustable incline settings, even when the runner is short. You definitely don't want to invest a few hundred dollars, a lot of muscle power and three hours of assembly time only to have a nice treadmill that makes you hit your head on the ceiling, so measure carefully.

Tip: Make sure your treadmill is safe for pets and small children. If you need to hide the "key" that turns it on, do that.

Tip: You might be able to use a run pod or an advanced heart rate monitor strap to simulate running outside, or to sync with a guided run on various software. iFit has guided runs through beautiful destinations around the world, and the right treadmill will even adjust elevation along with the guide. Zwift has a virtual running option that works with a footpod. 

Tip: If your stuff isn't working right, check that you aren't trying to run two things across a Bluetooth sensor that can only accommodate one. One runner was getting really frustrated with her runpod not working until she realized she was using the Bluetooth channel for her music and the runpod couldn't connect.

And if you can't make a treadmill work due to space, noise or money concerns, never fear. It's almost never too awful, or too dark, or too cold, to go running outside anyway. 


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date: November 30, 2021

Team BT