Have you ever noticed that TrainerRoad endurance workouts tend to be much simpler in structure outdoors than indoors? Look at Rymsza, for example. It’s got 33 stages! But that’s indoors. The outdoor version simply says “Settle into 155 minutes between 161-181 watts,” plus a little warm-up and cool-down.
I think I know why TrainerRoad is doing it like this. It’s really challenging to follow a structured workout when you’re riding outdoors. For one thing, traffic and other road obstacles will play a part. But unless you have endless flats, or really long climbs, the rolling hills will make it difficult to stay at the prescribed power levels.
The TrainerRoad folks are quick to point out, and rightly so, that it is easier to do a high quality workout indoors. Outdoor rides simply involve so much coasting. So my guess is that they somewhat reluctantly added outdoor versions of their workouts, but they kind of had to, because for most people there is more to cycling than staying inside sweating on a trainer.
But how do you do those long endurance workouts outdoors? Even something as simple as staying between 161-181 watts for 155 minutes can be hard to manage. What do you do when a long descent comes up, and your average power drops like a stone? Do you compensate by going harder later? You can, but you aren’t really doing the prescribed workout then. Do you pause the computer on descents? Surely not.
This is why I made “Endurance in Zone.” It allows you to configure 1-3 target zones and durations, and keeps track of how much time you have spent above target power (or heart rate).
For the example above, you may simply configure that you need to do 155 minutes above 161 watts. But with this nice tool, you don’t have to simplify the workout as much as this. You can look at the indoor Rymsza workout and find out that it involves 50 minutes above 175 watts, as well as 157 minutes (in total) above 161 watts. Configure these two zones and let the app take care of the rest.
The “app” is actually a data field on Garmin devices. It is designed so that it works on a small space shared with many other data fields, but it displays more data, possibly with a bigger font, if you give it more space. It works on Garmin watches as well. It shows a green background when you are meeting your target (based on a 30 second average), and red when you’re not.
Configuring the zones is easily done using Garmin Connect on your mobile phone, and you can certainly do this before each outdoor ride.
The app can be found here:
If you come up with any improvement suggestions or feature ideas, I’d love to hear them!