Are trainer road plans worth it for outdoor training?

I am new to trying to formalize training. I tend to just go out and ride pretty hard almost every day I ride. I rarely take recovery rides, but am only on the bike 3-4 days a week at 30 or so miles at a time. I don’t have an indoor trainer yet and don’t want to ride indoors over the summer anyways. Will there still be a benefit to the training plans?

I am not trying to race per se, but just want to get faster. I do have a power meter and hear rate meter, but don’t have great FTP or VO2 max numbers given I haven’t done the tests indoors (other than on my Peloton which is an inflated FTP of nearly 300). Avg. power on 30-35 mile rides is around 200-220, normalized around 220-240ish. I’ve never attempted to re-create an FTP outside.

Any thoughts would be appreciated as I am sure I am in a majority of people who want to get faster, but not looking to race and don’t have days upon days to train.

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Yes, they’ll work great for you as long as you have a Wahoo or Garmin, the rides will sync fidget to your device and you just follow the targets it gives you, it’s very easy to use TR outside. I do all my rides outdoors with a powermeter

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Let me first say the structure of TR is awesome, and necessary. Following the structure of the TR plan while training outside will go a long way to getting faster. You need your base, build and specialty phases along with specific workouts targeting endurance, tempo, SS, VO2, etc.

I have to admit, however, that I am not a huge fan of downloading the workouts to my Garmin and trying to follow along while riding outside. I get too much of “your power’s too high” or “your power’s too low”. Instead, I look at the planned workout on my calendar, and try to simulate it on my own when I am doing an outside ride. Admittedly, this takes a bit of trial and error in order to complete the intervals on the appropriate terrain. My outside workouts may not always be “perfect”, but at the end of the day, I am not going pro, and this is supposed to be fun. Being glued to my Garmin on an outside ride is a bit much for me.
TrainerRoad has made me a way better/faster cyclist in the 3 years I have been a subcriber.
Just my humble opinion.

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You can disable that option!

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What’s the best way to get a good FTP estimate outdoors? It’s hard to ride consistent anywhere for 20 minutes with turns, traffic etc.

You could try the 8 minute protocol instead of the 20 minute one. Otherwise, you could just do one on the indoor trainer and use that number with the understanding that many folks experience a difference in FTP between indoors and outdoors (outdoors being slightly higher).

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good to know! is that done in the TR App, or on Garmin?

Technically, I’ve found outside workouts very good on my bolt. However, my local terrain always makes it a bit problematic for me, and hill repeats don’t really float my boat anymore than the turbo trainer.

Outdoor workouts was fairly comprehensively covered on a podcast a few weeks back if I recall correctly. It would be well worth a listen for anyone interested in outdoor workouts (I’ve even pointed non-TR users to it!).

It’s a garmin setting. idk if you can do it on the device but in the Connect app you go into the Device then Activity Options → Audio Prompts → Power Alerts.

EDIT: Now that I look at it, it looks like this setting might be for a periodic audio call out of your current AP/NP/etc. So maybe not what I thought. But I think @bobw had the right thing.

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My experience so far, given the roads I have available, is that short interval workouts are a lot easier to execute than long interval ones. It’s easier to have an uninterrupted stretch of road for 30 or 60 seconds than for 5 or 8 minutes, and it’s easier to be in the power ballpark for 30-60 seconds than for 5-8 minutes.

But - outdoor training with TR is great.

And turn off the alerts. They’re nothing but a nuisance.

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Yeah depending on where you live then finding long stretches of road might be hard. Maybe consider driving somewhere to complete the FTP test and then you can do most of the other workouts where you live. Even longer intervals can be done if there are a few interruptions. If you have to pause a couple times during a long SS interval because of a stop sign it’s not a big deal. Long stop lights would be different though.

On the 520 you go:

Activity Profiles → (choose the profile you are using) → Alerts → Workout Target Alerts Then press the OK button to toggle the state.

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I’ve come to really appreciate TR workouts on my Garmin outdoors. Probably the biggest change in how I think about them is rather that doing a big loop and fitting in intervals along the way, I’ll think through sections of road around me where I can do repeats and do an extended warmup out to a starting point and hit it from there. Sometimes it’s an out/recovery back for longer intervals, sometimes is a smaller loop that I can do intervals as timing fits.

Now I have the real benefit of being only 10-15 minutes on the bike from where I live to having decent and fairly safe roads to do workouts. In my part of WI I don’t have climbs that take more than a couple minutes, but very fortunate with being able to do TR workouts outdoors.

BTW, the flip side is that being in the AT closed beta and knowing unstructured outdoor rides still have hiccups my anal-retentive tendencies have me doing fewer “go out and ride” days and instead thinking about how I can find a TR workout that fits what I think my open riding day might look like.

BTW, highly recommend the outdoor workouts podcast and the custom workout screen layout referenced earlier. I like having the standard Garmin lap screen one swipe away from the custom screen so during rests I can see AP for the past interval.

So roughly 6 hours per week? In your 20s to 40, or older? How long have you been riding? Any experience with running or swimming or rowing? Can you commit to doing at least one easy ride per week, or would that damage your Strava ego? What type of terrain are you riding on, for example its flat, easy rolling hills, rolling hills with a lot of steep short climbs, or in the mountains?

You don’t need to do indoor tests. There are a lot of ways to get faster.

Just pick a hill that’s about 30-40 mins to climb, and go full gas at a somewhat constant pace. Go for a PR or a KOM if within reach.

There’s a good blog post about this. I have mine set up the way they suggested and turned off the notifications. It is so much better!

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Totally agree here. I really enjoy outside workouts when it is short intervals I can do in my local park, but I just don’t have good consistent roads for longer intervals without some kind of traffic break/light near enough to work.

I generally don’t download the workout but just do an outside ride to simulate the workout. Below is Baird 5 x 1 min Vo2max repaeated 3 times. (I then added on 60mins of Z2 as the weather was good). The only issue is at the moment these aren’t counted towards levels if you are in the AT Beta,

Longer 20min Sweetspot are more challenging depending where you live due to finding un imterupted pedaling space. However I figure even I if have to stop for a few seconds on a 20min interval I’m still getting 99% of the benefit. (and I’m outside :grin:)

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This could be a big limiter to doing outside workouts. If you live in a place where doing at least 10mins continuous pedaling at a high rate (ideally up a slight incline) isn’t possible, then your outside workouts might become really frustrating to try to achieve.

I do almost exclusively outside work on TR for 9 months out of the year, and then a little more inside in the winters. They both have their ups and downs, but structured training will absolutely get you faster than you are now.

“I am new to trying to formalize training. I tend to just go out and ride pretty hard almost every day I ride. I rarely take recovery rides, but am only on the bike 3-4 days a week at 30 or so miles at a time. I don’t have an indoor trainer yet and don’t want to ride indoors over the summer anyways. Will there still be a benefit to the training plans?”

We have a few cat 1/2s on our USA crits team who do zero structure. They just got out and hammer three days a week, do a long 4-5 hour ride with a lot of hills, and a day off here and there. Some people just have ‘it’.

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