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How To Work on Mental Strength During Indoor Rides

By Allie Burdick | Jan. 23, 2017, 8:57 p.m. (ET)

cycling

A lot of eye rolls tend to happen when you mention the indoor cycling trainer to triathletes. But, if you live somewhere that makes it impossible to ride outside all year long, it's a necessary evil.

I've found a way to not only fight boredom on the bike trainer but to engage my mind and build mental strength as my legs churn out miles of going nowhere — podcasts and audiobooks!

Since safety isn’t an issue, you can focus exclusively on what the podcaster or author of the book is saying, and when I listen to something motivational or inspiring, I always find my next gear and finish my workouts strong.

Audiobooks

First, you need to find a platform to listen and buy books from. I prefer Audible, but there are several alternatives including Kindle and OverDrive and most have free downloads available for first-time listeners.

Once you have a way to listen, here are my top recommendations.

Elite Minds | by Dr. Stan Beecham

As a top-level sport psychologist and performance consultant, Dr. Stan Beecham knows what it takes to succeed, not only in sports but in the professional world as well. There are countless lessons, backed by science and scientific studies, resulting in athletes and mortals achieving successes once thought impossible.

Some of the many takeaways from this book include:

  1. Goal setting and why having more than one race goal could be your problem.
  2. Trying to be “better than yesterday” is a concept for failure.
  3. Conquer your fears by acknowledging them and moving on.
  4. Learn the importance of the way you think and how training your brain impacts performance at all levels.

The author weaves facts and stories of athletic heroics into a thought-provoking narrative. Not once was I bored or lost in daydreams of anything beyond what Dr. Beecham was saying. The motivational stories keep you interested and the facts keep your mind hungry for more.

How Bad Do You Want It | by Matt Fitzgerald

Forget Netflix, the narratives Fitzgerald lays out will have your full attention and anxious for the ending. From stories of several grueling stages of the Tour De France races or the epic battle of any number of elites winning races no one thought they could (including themselves), to hanging on each word of an unlikely Olympic rowing team and soul-crushing IRONMAN champions, you will be on the edge of your saddle and ready to attack your workout with renewed energy.

One word I would use to describe this book is riveting. Put on your headphones, listen closely and be amazed by what you can accomplish, if you put your mind to it.

Podcasts

There are so many podcasts out there and for triathletes there are several for each discipline, as well as triathlon as a whole. For the purpose of brevity, I will mention the top picks for swim, bike and run and then the sport of triathlon in its entirety.

Swim

Tower 26
Hosts Gerry and Jim cover a variety of topics and conveniently categorize them into tiers of accomplished, capable and newbie swimmers. Each podcast has a workout broken down into how and why you should be doing it. Their motto, “be race ready,” is adhered to with each lesson and can broaden your swim capabilities no matter your current level.

Bike

CycloSoul
Combining advice and free cycling workouts you can listen and even be guided through the workout of your choice. There are several options to buy upgraded packages and content but you also can just listen and ride along.

Run

The choices seem endless in this category, but my go-to podcast for running is definitely RunnersConnect Run To The Top Podcast with Tina Muir. The podcast covers a variety of topics and includes interviews from elites (the host herself is a sponsored Saucony runner) and mortals alike. The information is always current, informative and immediately applicable.

Triathlon

Triathlete Training
Host Eric Schwartz offers advice from his 20-plus years as a top athlete and coach and discusses everything from nutrition and hydration to weight loss, fueling and IRONMAN racing.

There are literally hours of topical content and most of it is highly informative, entertaining and motivating. Chose for a wide variety of interviews and timeframes, depending on your mood and how much time you will be in the saddle.

With all of these audiobooks and podcasts to choose from, your mental game will be ready for whatever the spring has in store for your racing!

Allie Burdick is an ACE certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. She has been running and competing her entire life and was recently part of Team USA in duathlon and will be competing at the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Her writing has appeared in Runner's World, Women's Running and ESPNW. She blogs about triathlon and marathon training at VitaTrain4Life.com.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.