3 Virtual Training Options

Forget boring trainer sessions—these three gamification options will push you harder and make cold-weather training more entertaining.

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Forget boring trainer sessions—these three “gamification” options will push you harder and make cold-weather training more entertaining.

Depending on where you live, you may be facing unfriendly training conditions for weeks leading up to your first spring race. These virtual training options will add an element of game-like fun to your winter sessions.

1. Strava

If you haven’t been using this popular training site yet, now’s the time to experience what all your training buddies have been talking about. It’s the perfect place to track your mileage and measure fitness gains without having to put effort into uploading data (simply hit start and stop on your phone). Plus, it’s a social media gateway to see how your friends or pros (such as Jesse Thomas) are training and in turn get motivated to get out there.

Make it more fun: Each month you can join an existing challenge, such as the Strava Climbing Challenge, where you attempt to climb the cumulative elevation of Mount Everest in 20 days. Once you join a challenge, your results will populate on a leaderboard, where you can compare yourself to other participants around the world. You could also start your own challenge with friends or a triathlon club, such as most bike miles in March as you build your base or setting a new 5K PR. Or you could finally go after the King or Queen of the Mountain on that competitive segment on your favorite ride route.

Get it: The Strava app is free on the iTunes store or at (the premium membership is $6/month).

RELATED: The Do’s And Don’ts For Triathletes On Strava

2. Zwift

For all you video game enthusiasts, the new multiplayer interactive platform Zwift is for you. Design your own avatar to ride against friends (or other users). You can use any indoor trainer, but the “real” factor is enhanced by adding in any ANT+ speed and cadence sensors or power meter. You can draft, sprint, break away, climb just like any group ride.

Make it more fun: Compete for sprint points to earn a green jersey or climb hard for a polka dot one. There will also be a coaching feature coming soon where, through a “fan view,” a coach can ride beside you on a virtual motorcycle and provide coaching and encouragement through a third-party app.

Get it: Membership is $10/month,

RELATED: 7 Apps For Triathletes

3. Sufferfest

Sufferfest may be sarcastic and antagonizing in nature, but its training videos for cyclists and runners are no joke! Before you even realize what’s happening, you’ll be pushing through tough threshold or VO2max intervals and sweating more than you thought possible.

Make it more fun: The Tour of Sufferlandria (Jan. 24–Feb. 8) is a yearly event where you do nine days of Sufferfest videos for training effect, bragging rights and potential rewards. There are strict rules around the time periods when workouts must be performed, and the results are recorded carefully. Sufferfest’s CEO David McQuillen describes his tour: “Over nine days, those who take on this, the most prestigious grand tour of a mythical country in the whole wide world, will go through epic amounts of pain, misery and agony, as they ride their way to honor, glory and victory.”

Get it: Videos can be downloaded for $10-$13 each, or $30 for three-packs, at

RELATED: Sufferfest Expands To Run Training Videos