Where the Mind Goes on a 5-hour Trainer Session

Recently, coach Tim gave me an assignment – to record my thoughts during a workout, and send the results to him. I decided that a 5-hour bike trainer session would be a good workout for this assignment, for a couple of reasons:  1) There’s a lot of time to think during a 5-hour workout, 2) The intensity is relatively low, so it’s easy to write down notes.

Also, many athletes struggle with long indoor sessions, so I thought sharing my mental processes during a long indoor session may give some folks a few ideas on how to get the most out of their indoor sessions.

Some disclaimers:

-This is just a “stream of consciousness” type of entry.  It is simply a transcription of the notes I took during the ride.  There is no “flow” or “structure” to the thoughts.  It’s just what was popping into my head over the course of the ride. Not saying everything I thought was “PC” or “diplomatic”. It’s simply an honest account of what was going through my head.

-There are a lot of comments about Rihanna.  This is because I was watching a Rihanna music video marathon on Fuse for the entire workout.  My general “entertainment” strategy was:  I had the music videos on the entire time.  If it was a song I liked, I turned up the volume on the TV and listened to the song.  If it was a song I didn’t like, I muted the TV, and listened to my iPod.

-I don’t pretend that these are brilliant thoughts, and this will probably be a boring post to most people.  That’s fine.  But if it gives a few people some useful insights on how to handle indoor sessions better, and some insights on mental strategies, then it was worthwhile.

-I have some links.  If there’s a link to a music video connected to a thought, then it means that it was the song I was listening to when I had that thought.

-I have some times listed, to give you a general sense of the timing of the thoughts.

-Taken out of context, most of the thoughts probably seem a bit simplistic, even trite. But you have to remember that the mind & body are in a very different state when training/racing, as compared to when doing other activities.  Any yahoo can spout off cliches when they’re just sitting around.  It’s much, much, harder to actually live up to those cliches when you’re completely shredded to pieces late in a race, and there’s someone 40 seconds up the road that you’re trying to chase down.

-This was a Z1/Z2 ride.  For reference – think of Z1 as an honest aerobic pace, and Z2 is roughly my Ironman race day heart rate.  My LT HR on the bike is at 165 bpm. Z1 is 132-143 bpm. Z2 is 143-154 bpm.

– I have no idea how many 5-hour bike trainer sessions I’ve done since I got into triathlon 6 years ago, but I’d guess it’s at least 70-80.

Here we go…


-Glad I haven’t had caffeine this week.  This cup of coffee is going to have a strong, positive, effect on this workout.

-Yes!!!! Fuse has a Rihanna music video marathon on for the next 6 hours!  Score!


-Is Rihanna single?  You think she’s into triathletes?

-Easily getting up into Z1.  Always nice when that happens.


-“Juke It” just came on the iPod.  Way too early for that jam. Better skip it, and move on to another song.

-Quads are a bit sore.  Still feeling Wednesday’s squats.

-Force the fluids down.  Gotta practice the race nutrition plan.


THREE-6 MAFIA!!!!!!!!

-I feel you Kanye.  I can’t believe that MJ is gone, either.

-Man… Rihanna looks amazing.


-Left achilles pain is at 1 out of 10.  Hope it goes away.


There’s a thousand you’s, there’s only one of me.

-The video for SOS.  I think I’m in love with Rihanna.


-Finished 1st bottle.  Right on track with fluids.


-I wonder if Luke McKenzie is racing IM Melbourne.  Simultaneously hoping “yes” and “no”.  I mean, you always want to see how you measure up against the best, but at the same time, if he’s not there, it’ll be that much less difficult to win prize $$, haha!

-I can really identify with Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam

Umbrella!!! Rihanna can really rock the hell out of silver body paint.


-Turnover and pedal stroke very smooth today.  Feeling good.


-I could really go for a Whole Foods pizza tonight.

-Man… I love this bike fit.  But I wish I had longer aerobars.

Spirit of a hustler, swagger of a college kid


-I wish Big Pun was still alive.  He had some nasty flow.

I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.


-I think I’ll drop my head, and close my eyes for a while.  Gotta relieve some neck strain.


-Let’s bump it up to mid-Z1.


-Finished 2nd bottle, right on schedule.

Rihanna looks good in short shorts.


Right here, right now.  Just like mile 17 of an Ironman run. It’s easy to think you’ll do it when you’re just sitting around. It’s much harder to actually do when you’re 7-8 hours deep into a race and hanging on by a thread.

-I will run myself into needing hospitalization before I let someone pass me in an Ironman marathon.  If you don’t beat me to T2, sorry…

2Chainz is simultaneously kind of dumb, and extremely clever.


-Clif shot vanilla gel. These things are crazy good.  They taste exactly like vanilla frosting.


-Drop head, close eyes.


-Turnover, turnover, turnover.


-Bottle #3 done.

-Told ’em I finished school, and started my own business.  They say, “Oh, you graduated?”. No, I decided I was finished.

-Man… Justin Timberlake is way cooler than me.


-Halfway!  Time to get a bit more serious, and lift to the top of Z1.  Music videos permanently on mute, all music will be from the iPod for the rest of the ride.

Sad but True.  Def gets me fired up.


-Just get to the 3:00 mark!  There is coffee there!


-Posters on slowtwitch who obsess about 20 minute tests are kind of hilarious and delusional (and there are a lot of them).  You know what’s a lot more useful for determining how you should pace Ironman race day?  Your performance on 5-6 hour rides.

-Hearts on Fire.  No pain.  No pain. No pain.


-Bottle #4 done.


-COFFEE!!!!  Also, salt is caking on my face, so it’s time for some Margarita flavor Clif Shot Bloks (3x sodium).

-Yup. Rihanna is still smokin’ hot.

-I kind of want to watch an episode of Insane Clown Posse Theater.  Could be terrible, could be entertaining. Reminds me of Beavis and Butthead.


-Let’s turn these fans up to full power.

-Success is my only option.

-Blonde girl in the M & M’s commercial is way hotter than the redhead.


-Really hope that my tombstone reads, “Hope in our hearts, wings on our heels.”  Completely serious.


-Going to Z2 in 16 minutes. Focus on turnover until then.

-I wish the Ying Yang Twins would release another album.


-Bottle #5 done.


-Let’s bump it up, for 80 minutes of Z2. Time to make some money.


-You cannot ignore the pain.  It’s impossible.  But you can accept and embrace it. It is simply part of the process.


-Preach, Weezy. Preach.  The Sky is the Limit.


Let’s get serious.


-Bottle #6 done.

-Turnover, turnover, turnover.


Mariano Rivera.  Stone cold assassin.  Like any true Yankees fan, I get chills when I hear “Enter Sandman“.  Thinking about Mariano almost brought me to tears today.  He is one of my 5 favorite athletes of all-time.  We may never see another like him.  What struck me the most about him was that his motion was so relaxed, but then the ball would just EXPLODE out of his hand.  Truly a sight to behold, especially in person.  I think about this “relaxed explosion” often, especially when I need to get things under control in training or racing.


-Mariano again.  Chills.


-Turnover, turnover, turnover.


I know it’s gonna be.  I know it’s gonna be.


-Marry me, Ellie Goulding.

-Attack. Attack.  Attack.


-It’s go time. Juke it.


-Bottle #7 done.

Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique.

-Time to back if off to the bottom of Z2.  No need to blow out the legs today, gotta save ’em for tomorrow.


-That was productive, and goals achieved.  Time to shower, foam roll, eat, and sit in the Normatecs.  Gotta get ready for Master’s swim practice, which is in 13 hours.

If you’ve made it this far: as you can see, I spent very little time actually thinking about biking.  Mostly, my thoughts were shaped by what I was listening to, and were related to my experiences & my goals.  I just happened to be riding a bike at the time.

Most importantly, I didn’t have a single negative thought, or moment of self-doubt, during the entire session.  The more I learn about this sport, the more I’ve discovered that results are simply the realization of self-fulfilling prophecies.  I’ve never doubted by ability or potential, but I’ve let outside influences make me feel bad about myself, which led to a negative mindset.  But I’m over that now, and I don’t let the outside crap get to me anymore.  As a result, I’ve put myself in a position to have the best racing season of my life.

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