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Is it done yet? 10 emotional stages of riding the trainer

After a long season on the trainer, here are the 10 emotional stages we observed when riding the trainer

Riding the trainer is an inevitable reality for triathletes living in the Northern Hemisphere. No matter how hardy you are, the trainer helps you do effective training during the winter. It’s in the pain cave where you improve your functional threshold capacity and watch endless shows on Netflix. But its time, or almost time to get back outdoors. After a long season on the trainer, here are the ten emotional stages we observed when riding the trainer:

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Initial excitement

That satisfying feeling you get when you make it onto the trainer can be quite exciting. Often, getting the workout started is the hardest part of riding indoors. Just making it onto the trainer is a victory in and of itself.


You enthusiastically embrace this feeling of success once you finish your warm-up and start your first intervals. In the back of your mind, you imagine all the gains you will get from training indoors. This one workout will help you ride people off your wheel and get your legs nice and defined for your first spring ride.

Waning enthusiasm and motivation

Ugh oh! This workout is harder than you thought. These interval targets are really hard to hit. The motivation to keep pushing the pedals is waning. You start to think, there’s plenty of time to get fit later in the year. You’re already in the saddle though so maybe you can push through this workout.

Entering the time-space continuum

The realization that you’ve only completed the first interval snaps you out of your fantasy that the workout was actually passing by faster than you thought. Now you can’t stop watching the time go by really, really slowly. Every interval feels like it will never end and the rest time in between goes by so fast. Worst of all, that number that measures power seems to be getting smaller and smaller.

Beginning the countdown to spring

You think about spring to try and distract your mind. Warm weather and bright sunshine on your skin, the long-forgotten sensation of riding outside. These thoughts will help return some of your motivation because now you want to be strong for when that time comes.

Regret about not living somewhere warmer

Then you think of all the people you see on social media riding in warm climates in places like Tucson, Lanzarote, Southern France and Mallorca. Why can’t you live in a place like that?

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The delusion that you are putting out massive watts

These intervals have started to pass by a little quicker. You are smashing them. You are sweating profusely. Your legs burn. Just a few more months and you’ll be beating all your PBs on the local Strava segments.

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Dawning realization you could barely power a light bulb

Then you look at your power numbers. Why are they so low? You think this workout feels really hard, but the dawning realization is that you still have a ways to go to get back to the level you were at mid-summer.

Fantasizing about what you’ll eat after

You are finally almost done the workout. Only one more interval and then your cool down. Now you start thinking about what food is waiting for you in the fridge. So many possibilities and you’ve surely earned a tasty reward for making it through that trainer session. Even if it was just one hour.

Ecstatic euphoria upon being finished

The timer hits one hour, and you immediately stop pedalling. You’ve done it! That feeling of relief is overwhelming. You can’t wait to get off the bike. Now only two more months of winter and dozens of indoor workouts until you are as strong as you want to be come spring.

A version of this story is on the Canadian Cycling Magazine