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Marathon or Triathlon on the Horizon? These Indoor-Training Tricks Will Blow Your Mind

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    Structure Your Workout

    "The best way to embrace long runs on the treadmill is to create a structure for each workout," says Debora Warner, founder and CEO of Mile High Run Club in New York City. Try eight 3-minute hill repeats or six 1-mile repeats, suggests Warner. Or try a step progression like Gwen Jorgensen, a professional triathlete and the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Champion. "It keeps my mind entertained, and it's a hard workout," she says. Jorgensen does a warm-up then runs two minutes at a 2% incline, upping the grade by 1% every two minutes, then going back down the ladder.

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    Focus on Form

    Training indoors on a stationary machine allows you to fix some of the variables you can't control outdoors. It's a great opportunity to focus on proper form, pacing, and breathing, says Warner. "I would suggest focusing on one of these at a time for each workout," she says. Then, take it outdoors to put it all together.

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    Buddy Up

    Since working out within four walls can be less motivating, get an accountability buddy. "I have a variety of training partners—they shame you into showing up," says Brian Maiolo, triathlon coach and two-time Ironman. "Plus, training is more fun with someone next to you," says Jorgensen. She surrounds herself with motivated people and an encouraging coach to help push her indoor workouts to the max.

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    Dress for Success

    A large chunk of training and racing is the mental aspect. "Dress like you're racing, not like you're getting ready for a company softball game," says Maiolo. "It helps more than you might think." Not only will it put you in the right state of mind, it will give you a chance to test your race-day kit for chafing or any issues before the big day.

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    Chop It Up

    Bring your outdoor strategies inside. "If you run in Central Park in New York City, you don't do an 18-mile run; you likely do three loops in the park. This is called chunking," says Maiolo. "Break the workout down into bite-sized pieces. A 20-mile run on a treadmill sounds dreadful, but three 6- to 7-mile 'loops' is much easier," he says. Take a one-minute break on the treadmill in between each loop to take in some fluids and get back at it.

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    Fuel the Fire

    Longer workouts require some fuel to keep you going. "If you get off the treadmill [or bike], it becomes increasingly difficult to get back on. So have a sports drink, water, gels, and whatever else you need on hand," suggests Maiolo. This will prevent you from finding reasons to cut the workout short.

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    Think It Through

    Don't just do your workouts in the gym, do them in your head, too. "Visualize yourself doing the actual race while you're training," says Maiolo. "I tell my athletes that it's almost impossible to do an iron distance race or marathon if you haven't done it hundreds of times already—in your head."

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    Leave Your House

    If possible, avoid doing long workouts at home. "Even if you have a trainer for your bike, it's just too easy to hop off," says Maiolo. "You have too many triggers or reminders to do other things at home." The proper setting like a gym or studio with limited distractions is key to getting the most out of your workout.

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    Picture Your Opponent

    Tap into your inner contender by imagining what your competition is doing. "They aren't slacking off," says Maiolo. "This isn't just for folks trying to get on the podium. Whether your competition is also trying to break three hours, four hours, or five hours, there's nothing like a little perspective."

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    Stack Them Up

    If you have to fit in a few hours on the bike, get creative and stack up two or three group classes in a row. "Sign up and hide in the back for the first, then sit up front for the second or third," suggests Maiolo. Keep the workout moderate when you're in the back (basically do your own things without disrupting the class), then, move up front for the second class and go harder.

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    Entertain Yourself

    For any indoor workout, arm yourself with a killer playlist or some entertainment. "I love using the treadmill miles as an opportunity to discover new music,"says Warner. "Don't underestimate the power of Journey," says Maiolo. "I love watching cycling-related videos," adds Jorgensen.