The trainer is cycling, minus almost everything I love about cycling.
Oh sure, I'm on my bike, pedals are moving same as always.
Now matter how much I turn up the fan, it's not the same as that feeling of moving through the air outdoors. I'm not getting anywhere, not seeing anything new, not fighting the elements.
It is soul-sucking. But when you live in Canada, there are times of the year where it's a neccessary evil.
So here are a few things I've found make it more tolerable, sometimes even almost enjoyable (but not quite).
Coach Troy Jacobson leads you through a complete workout. There are several videos with different goals, usually from 40-60 minutes long. And if you listen to Coach Troy, you will get a heck of a workout, and you will learn to hate him intensely (nothing personal Coach, but I equate your voice with severe pain).
Heart rate monitor, cadence meter, speedometer - all of them give you data to understand and think about, which beats watching the clock tick down (it'll never get to 0:00 if you watch it!). Set some goals (or let Coach Troy set some for you) and use your toys to track them (ie. stay above 120 rpm for 30s on , 30s off, repeat 5 times).
When I'm doing less structured riding, I find old cycling videos of Tour de France stages or Paris to Roubaix really get the job done. You find yourself matching their cadence almost like you're riding with them.
And if you close your eyes and let your mind wander just a little, you almost feel like you're in front of the TV watching the Tour de France...
Snakes on a Plane
No. Don't do it. Terrible movie, and not the least bit motivational for cycling.
In general, non-cycling content just doesn't get the job done for me. Your mileage may vary, but no matter what, stay away from Snakes on a Plane. Even if you try to watch it ironically.
It's going to be +2C here tomorrow (35F), so on go the long pants, shoe covers, gloves, etc and I'm heading outside... it's a bit of extra work getting prepared, but a break from the trainer helps me remember why I'm doing it!