Living in the Czech Republic, I quickly realized the benefits of training indoors as soon as the first winter came 🙂
I am not a fan of cold weather and struggle to train outside in the cold (especially on the bike, where I can’t seem to keep my hands or feet warm enough!)
In the past I trained at home during the coldest months and as soon as possible I transitioned to outdoor riding. Over the years my circumstances have changed somewhat though. I got married 5 years ago and now I have two children as well 🙂
I have found that training indoors is less time-consuming and more productive! Let me explain: The first two or three years I trained inside I simply put on a film and watched it while I cycled. Obviously I swam indoors and I kept running outside whatever the weather.
Then 3 years ago I started using heart rate to create cycling workouts for myself to do inside. This made winter training a little more fun but I still watched videos to pass the time quicker. Then last season I got a power meter (see the article with my experience here) and started using Trainerroad, which has been a revolution for me! I never knew I could work so hard on a turbo trainer, have more fun, have the time pass more quickly and get better prepared to ride outside (and race in the summer!) I now ride at least twice a week indoors using Trainerroad all year round. In the winter I ride 3-4 times, depending if it’s warm enough for me to venture out on my mountain bike on a Saturday! For more about Trainerroad, see my review.
It seems to be common for a lot of pros and top age-groupers to train indoors, and only last week read about Scott Bowe, who was the first age-grouper to finish in Ironman Arizona. Guess how he trains! You can read about his training here.
I have just become a Trainerroad ambassador too, so if you want to try it, please let me know and I can supply you with a code for a FREE one month trial 🙂
Since I started training indoors more systematically on my bike, I have also started to realize the benefits of running indoors, where I can run intervals in a controlled environment without worrying about traffic, snow or ice on the road, or anything else! I am more likely to run inside during the coldest months, especially now I tend to run harder intervals earlier in my training cycle as I have been experimenting with brain-training as outlined by Matt Fitzgerald in Brain Training for Runners (New American Library, 2007).
In contrast to cycling though, as soon as I can I prefer to run outside as it is less boring, more beneficial (and healthy!) for me, and that running indoors doesn’t really save me any time.