Use/not use of music in training- that meditative state

Really enjoyed this discussion- episode 260, Grant’s question- the original question was about how to get into that meditative state we yearn for in training- more towards what people do when they have to back off training and struggle to find that state.

It ended up, in part, as a discussion of how people use music/media in training.

I’d enjoy hearing other people comment- here’s my statement(s):

I do seek meditative bliss in riding. I found it most intensely in running, running at VO2Max basically (I was conscious early in life of the positive effect on my state of mind from intense physical exertions). At a certain point this intensity in running began to cause injury, and I was able to pursue it on the bike.

Basically the real meditation comes at just sub-LT/VO2Max for me and I only get there in silence.

I do use music on the trainer at Z2, and I can tolerate it on the really hard (i.e. short) intervals, though I think it can distract from adaptation and can be sort of a crutch.

The fact is you can’t listen when racing.

Also, I find people talking to me in the crunch points in a race a real chink in the armor (annoying distraction- often get dropped right after)- and thus I will dig into annoying content to train mental toughness.

Don’t get me wrong; love good music, just don’t think it actually helps with training, and it interferes with me digging on the world around me when on the road.

Yet, even so, it is darn good to have a good tune flow on those long Z2’s, road or rollers, which, for me, are not meditative at all!

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I’ll get to the music bit mid-reply, but I’m replying based on my take home from Grant’s question.

I’m blessed with the ability to completely switch off from the world’s problems the minute I get out onto the road on my bike (or trails), but I’m unable to do so when going to bed. If only I could find that switch.

I’m also fortunate to be able to work semi-flexible hours, as well as have a hybrid work model (home and office). Work from 07:00-09:00, then drive to the office. Leave at 15:00, and be ready to ride at 16:00. This saves me up to 2 hours in peak traffic per day. On those days, I train indoors and usually it’s the HIT training days.

I’ll ride outside on the days I work from home, and make a point to close the laptop at 16:00 sharp. The travel time when I work from home is now my bike time, so I get 2 hours to train. It’s actually 90-mins as the other 30-minutes is spent gearing up/down and syncing data. If I need to check work stuff, I can then spend 30 minutes planning the next day.

Prior to this arrangement, I would listen to podcasts while driving. This was my way to ignore the stress/frustration of bad traffic days. But 3 hours a day in peak traffic is such a waste, even if I was listening to podcasts. That’s the difference between rigid hours and a boss that understands flexibility.

When riding (inside and out) I don’t listen to music. I tried it a few times, but it was more of a distraction than training aid.

Between Zwift and Rouvy, I have enough to keep me occupied without having to resort to watching Netflix. I started doing the Pace Partner rides on the easy days, knowing that a 2.3-2.5 W/Kg pace would put me in the zone I needed to be. Switching off the information on screen and just making sure I ride in the group, makes for a nice easy ride indoors. That only happens when it rains, otherwise I’ll ride outside.

When riding outside, my bike time is my alone time, even in a group. My phone comes with but I only use it to take photos (golden hour is wonderful for taking photos), or in an emergency. I’ve punctured twice, in 2500 rides, that required me calling the wife to collect me - both times I picked the wrong tube as a spare. When riding alone, I prefer to stay in the suburbs; it’s a safety concern, that also keeps the wife’s fear (down) of something happening while out on my own. It can get boring, but the routes options are limitless, so there’s enough variation.

I like doing my HIT workout on the indoor trainer. I find it easier to focus, compared to outdoors (and safer too). VO2 work is a favourite, much like the race routes in my area; short, punchy climbs. 3-6 sets of 3-5 minutes in duration. They are all hard, but some days I’m the hammer and other days I feel like the nail. It just feels good when the workout is done, even the bad ones. But nothing beats being able to simply turn the pedals in that all-day pace. If my health became bad and I was restricted to doing zone 2 workouts, I would still be happy.