I’ve been following standard TR advice to pick a base plan you can execute faithfully, without skipping workouts, and then layer in outdoor rides time permitting. Currently I’m in the middle of sweet spot base low volume II. Following that plan, I do the two 60 minute workouts on Tues and Thurs and the 90 minute workout on Saturday. I then join a club drop ride on Sunday morning. The Sunday ride requires a lot of hard efforts with steep climbs and much bigger watts than you see in sweet spot base workouts. I’m training for an A race in May and I wonder if these types of intense efforts now will be detrimental to my goal of laying a good base in the off-season. Will I peak too soon or possibly burn out by going hard on Sundays in addition to the TR SSB program workouts? If there’s no downside to intense work in the off season, why is base training almost always focused on sweet spot or easier workouts?
It’s a question of balance. Would you build a bigger base if you skipped that Sunday ride and used the extra training time and energy to do the MV plan instead? Probably. But would a diet of 100% structured solo riding be enough to motivate you all the way to May, or does that Sunday ride help to motivate and focus you? Or give you other benefits like pacing on hills, tactics, handling, pack positioning, etc? Only you can answer that. Personally I need a regular fix of group riding, I’ve learnt to always incorporate this into my training. It might not be the scientifically optimal training, but it keeps me motivated with to maintain a pretty high volume year in, year out, and enjoy my cycling, and that makes me a stronger rider in the long term than following a “better” approach which grinds me down psychologically.
If you decide that you want to do the group ride then it becomes a question of how to use that ride to best complement your training. There’s normally some element of control as to how you ride it, e.g. whether you’re hammering on the front or sitting in the pack and letting other people cover the moves. I’ve noticed that a lot of the best racers I train with ride very differently depending on their goals. There will be times when they do their pulls but sit up on the sprints or punchy climbs because they don’t want to go over threshold. Or times when they go off the front and do a long solo break to get some threshold work in. Or times when they will use it as race practice and do breaks, echelons, leadouts, etc. Drop ride with steep climbs is probably the hardest ride to dictate how you ride it (unless you’re one of the strongest in the group), so if your only choices are going deep into the red zone or being dropped then there may be weeks you need to skip that ride if you’re supposed to be recovering or tapering.
If you do it most weeks then I don’t think it will burn you out as it will become part of your regular workload. And should actually get easier to handle over time as you (hopefully!) improve your fitness and so can stay with the group without digging so deep. I find it does get harder to balance hard group rides with TR training during the Build phase though, so you may need to re-evaluate how you approach your training as you move into Build.
I don’t have as much experience with structured training as the other guys here on the forum, so take this with a grain of salt.
I’m in the middle of SSBMV1. I’ve noticed that I can add a group ride in every weekend if I pay attention to my effort levels.
Personally I stick with the slowest guy from the start of every climb. It allows me to have a good time and socialize as opposed to sprinting to the top of every hill with my faster mates. When we regroup, then I take gentle pulls in Z3. Sometimes, when I need to get stuff done during the week, I’ll skip the easiest scheduled ride knowing I’ll get a lot of endurance riding anyway.
So basically I try to leave my ego at home and enjoy chatting and messing around with my mates, this gives me the motivation to keep nailing the workouts through the week.
I’ll see if I can endure the group rides through SSBMV2
Can you execute the Monday TR session well?
Yes: No problem, carry on sir.
No: All other things equal, your Sunday ride is impacting your structured training.
There’s loads of material on this, but if I had been going hard weekly then introduced structured training, I’d want to back down the Sunday ride effort. For many, the Sunday ride is the peak of their week and year, and it’s competitive - good for them. We have other goals. Look around the group, look at the mood, others are likely to be finding the ride too hard - form a sub group, or change groups. My club has four group rides by ‘level’.
Sunday ride needs to be fun right, but it doesn’t have to be wiping you out for days.