Zwift: perfecting your pain cave

Spending the winter training? You’re going to want to make sure your pain cave is up to scratch

This is a sponsored article in association with Zwift.

How many times have you been five minutes into your warm-up only to realise you forgot to set up the fan? Or, right in the middle of your main interval set, you realise you forgot hydration or a sweat towel? We've all been there. In order to really benefit from that one-hour session on the turbo, planning and preparation is crucial.

The first thing to think of is the bike. If you don’t want to use the same bike you ride outside and you’re lucky enough to have a 'good' bike and a 'less good' bike, then it's simple — keep the less good one for the turbo (but check you’re pedalling on the same set-up or with the same bike fit measurements you’d use outdoors).

However, every bike still needs to be clean and mechanically okay to work properly. So keep the less good one in shape at all times and don’t leave it on the turbo for the whole winter without taking care of it.

As you might spend a lot of time in the 'pain cave' during the winter, the location is also important. If you have a garage or a spare room, happy days! You could even leave your indoor steed on the turbo trainer ready for the next session — but, again, don’t forget to clean it properly at least every second session and give it a rinse after each one.

Pick your location carefully
Pick your location carefully

If you don’t have a room dedicated to your most painful (but beneficial) winter sessions, pick between your other rooms and check with the people you live with which one would work for them too. In this case, you’ll need to set up your bike on the turbo each time.

Apart from the bike, the second most important thing for a turbo session is a turbo trainer or a set of rollers. To use Zwift, you’ll also need a speed and cadence sensor to allow your workout data to be paired with the game app.

A power meter or a smart trainer with a built-in power meter will make your cycling experience even more realistic and engaging, but they are not mandatory for Zwift. Remember, you’ll always have time to upgrade your kit.

Zwift is simple to set up on your iPad
Zwift is simple to set up on your iPad

Once you have your bike on your turbo and the sensors are connected, don’t forget your hydration. You'll need at least 750ml of water with electrolytes for every hour of exercise, a towel to keep you dry and protect the stem bearings from the sweat, and a fan to keep your core temperature within a good working range.

If you want to get used to higher temperatures ahead of your next race in the heat, you could get rid of the fan — but that is an advanced option. If the room is really hot, just wear a pair of bike bib-shorts and any sports top you prefer.

Change the way you workout indoors...
Change the way you workout indoors...

Finally, Zwift can work as the perfect tool to kill boredom, and if you still want to listen to your favourite playlist, looking at your avatar on a screen will make the session more fun and compelling.

If you want to give your pain cave an extra touch, put your race medals and trophies on full display, maybe together with some of your most important bib numbers.

And, for extra motivation, why not add some pictures of yourself fighting for that finish line? A famous athlete put a photo of his rival overtaking him during the last race. Because if you’re looking for a monster challenge, you really want to make sure you won’t lose again in the future. Can you guess who this athlete was? Hint: a pro Zwifter of course!

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