At what point in your cycling journey do you de-emphasize TrainerRoad?

Disclaimer - This will be read by many people as stirring the pot but I’m honestly asking for opinions, thoughts, observations… I have been dedicated to using Trainerroad extensively this year so I’m obviously a fan and simply looking for opinions.

I had lunch with a friend last week who casually had taken notice of the number of TR rides I’ve posted this year to my Strava account. By my count, 114 Trainerroad rides so far this year out of a total of 229 possible riding days (8/18/19 - 1/1/19 is 229 days so far this year).

He said he tried TR for a few months and follows a lot of TR employees on Strava and said that I use it more than the employees use it. He says the fastest folks he follows do not use the trainer as often as I do, not by any stretch, and asked if I had noticed the same. Bottom line, he thinks I am overusing the trainer this year just based on our time riding together and feels I should get back to riding outside a lot more often. Ouch, that hurt a little.

I told him that Pete seems to be pretty damn fast and uses TR frequently and I sent him this video where Pete says “90% of his time is spent on the trainer.” He was quick to point out that the actual results may be a bit different from the proclaimed usage.

I didn’t think what he was saying was likely the case, so I explored for myself and took a look at the last 4 months of Jonathan, Pete and Nate’s Strava accounts. I have to say, I hadn’t really focused on the data as a casual observer, but after a quick review, I came away surprised.

Jonathan

August
15 rides posted
0 Indoor TR Rides
1 Outdoor TR Ride

6.67% TR

July
28 rides posted
1 Indoor TR Ride
3 Outdoor TR Rides

14.3% TR

June
16 Rides posted
0 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

0% TR

May
33 Rides posted
4 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

12.1% TR

Total 9/91 = 9.8% Total TR Usage

Pete

August
10 rides posted
1 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

10% TR

July
17 rides posted
2 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

11.8% TR

June
8 Rides posted
0 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

0% TR

May
14 Rides posted
1 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

7.2% TR

Total 4/49 = 8.2% Total TR Usage :man_shrugging: Maybe he meant 9%?

Nate

August
18 rides posted
9 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

50% TR

July
33 rides posted
17 Indoor TR Rides
2 Outdoor TR Rides

58% TR

June
20 Rides posted
14 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

70% TR

May
24 Rides posted
10 Indoor TR Rides
1 Outdoor TR Rides

46% TR

Total 53/91 = 56% Total TR Usage

Me

August
11 rides posted
7 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

64% TR

July
25 rides posted
21 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

84% TR

June
15 Rides posted
7 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

47% TR

May
25 Rides posted
18 Indoor TR Rides
0 Outdoor TR Rides

72% TR

Total 53/76 = 70% Total TR Usage

*My math may be off here and there but the above is pretty close

I 100% admit that they all race more than I do and a lot of the rides they post are races. That I understand. There are other rides posted, race warm-ups, video shoots, MTB skills rides, vacation rides, etc., where riding on TR just isn’t feasible and those skew the percentages some. They also likely don’t post every single training session to their Strava account.

All that said, what am I missing? Less than 10% of Pete and Jonathan’s Strava posted rides are on Trainerroad? There are plenty of long group rides, chill rides, flowy singletrack rides, all the things I’m giving up to “get faster.”

So are they already fast and just deciding that they don’t need structured training any longer? Nate is obviously building towards his Road Cat 2 and he uses the product many times more than the others. Is it as simple as that? Once you are fast, no reason to keep training with TR?

I am honestly very surprised by the lack of, let’s call it, “traditional” Trainerroad usage by Jonathan and Pete (e.g.- pick a workout/plan, jump on the trainer, ride the workout, post results to Strava). Isn’t that what the entire platform is built around? Eliminating junk miles and unstructured training in favor of getting “more results from your hard work when you couple custom power-based workouts with a properly structured, discipline-specific training plan.”

While I’m ok (not thrilled) with my FTP gains for the year using structured training, I’m a bit conflicted by this. Is this just a case of, “Do as I say not as I do?” I don’t honestly care whether they use it or not but I do care about my progression and want to take the best path available. The two fast guys don’t seem to use the platform as much as I would expect or as much as I am using it. That does make me wonder if I’m doing what’s best. Bottom line.

6 Likes

Answer is: never :slight_smile:.

You should take away all of the races, warmups and MTB skills work.

I’m almost 100% training indoors except for the occasional Geiger loop, TT test or DH MTB practice.

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For example in August it’s really one outside ride that was fitness training. Two lee clinics and like 4 race files. The rest is indoor training.

All my other months are similar. What I do like to do sometimes is the long ride outside. 3-5 hours on the trainer is hard. If you take those away then it would be hard to find an outside ride that’s “training” for me.

You can also check out my career and see that I’ve made the biggest FTP gains when I’ve had the most consistent indoor training.

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These types of rides can still make you faster and not every session has to be structured. For example you could have a world class ftp but it’s no good if you can’t ride a technical section and you get dropped before the finish line.

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You raised a couple of legitimate points and a few things I wanted to expand on

First - as you gain additional discipline and experience you gain the ability to meet some of your training goals outdoors. In particular one of the nicest ways to get outside and off the trainer for me is the long easy ride to a coffee shop and back. This is an extremely challenging thing to do - ride outdoors for 3-6 hours and keep your HR and power low the entire time. It takes some a lifetime to be able to do this

Second - definitely subtract races and other mandatory outdoor rides. You and Nate both touched on this, but those shouldn’t count towards your denominator

Third - you have to look at what works for an individual. Everyone is motivated by different things and everyone responds differently to different types of training stimulus. What works for you is the real answer you’re looking for - and maybe that’s always using TrainerRoad 4 days a week and outside 2, or using TrainerRoad exclusively for 3 years and then moving in a new direction.

I started to dig into my numbers to give you a comparison of someone who is relatively fast but have to step out. If I get a chance I’ll finish them for the season and post later

3 Likes

I acknowledged that you use it far more than others so no doubt about that. However, Pete and Jonathan have a total of 2 combined proper TR rides this month and 6 combined last month. So even in absolute value terms, that’s not a lot. Perhaps that’s the part that I’m trying to wrap my head around.

“At what point in your cycling journey do you deemphasize structured training?”

Never.

You will change your training schedule based on need and events, but structure doesn’t ever go away. TR isn’t just about intervals.

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That would be helpful thank you.

Jonathan has been racing this month and last month. Not really much structure when you are pre-riding, racing, traveling and recovering.

I can also post my numbers on structured versus unstructured although I’m not as fast as @trpnhntr

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in danger of given an overly generic answer: Training is only 1/3 of the holy trinity of performance gain. So if you are not happy with your gains, it may be a good idea also to have a look at the other 2/3, being diet and recovery (especially sleep and general life stress and so on)

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I’m game to see them, thank you. No shade here, just trying to understand some of the nuance perhaps that I’m not gleaning from the data I have access to.

For June neither Jonathan or Pete posted a TR workout. I acknowledge that they race more than me and certainly a lot more than most. But for practical reasons, you can see how June is a bit of a head scratcher?

Pete was either racing or practicing for Enduro World Series at northstar recently. Those Saturday drop rides are races for him.

Wasn’t Jonathan sick for like three weeks?

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You should do another analysis of my rides where you take out Northstar days, TR outside, races/warmups, equipment checks and photo shoots. I think you’ll find that I do the occasional long ride outside but that’s it.

Another way to say your headline would be:
“Nate goes from 190 -> 340 FTP on almost exclusively indoor training. Also starts 2019 as a cat 5 and ends it (almost!!) a cat 2 :wink:.

Jonathan and Pete are not “building” with TR, but racing and prepping for races and are both far below peak fitness.

Brandon Nied is often doing double TR days with a mix of long outside rides and is at peak fitness.”

It’s all in how you phrase it :slight_smile:.

Brandon’s rides:

image

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Maybe there is an opportunity here to use some lesser profile employees so illustrate FTP gains while using the platform? I get it, Pete is a pro and Jonathan is a high level MTB racer. So their schedules may make it difficult to stick with a training plan. But that’s what is put in front of us every week on the podcast. I guess to me it feels natural to look at what the fast guys are doing and try to replicate that. Or is that just me?

Cat 2 -> Cat 1 MTB XC racer, ~4-4.5w/kg

I do structure outside as well as inside, so some of my structured sessions are on the MTB and so I included them as “structured” since TR has outdoor workouts now. I also excluded commuting as “sessions”

January:

  • Average Hours: 11
  • Total Sessions: 17
  • Structured Sessions: 8

February:

  • Average Weekly Hours: 8
  • Total Sessions: 16
  • Structured Sessions: 9

March:

  • Average Weekly Hours: 11
  • Total Sessions: 18
  • Structured Sessions: 6
  • Races: 3

April:

  • Average Weekly Hours: 8
  • Total Sessions: 11
  • Structured Sessions: 3
  • Races: 1

May:

  • Average Weekly Hours: 10
  • Total Sessions: 16
  • Structured Sessions: 8

June: Transition Month/lots of work

July:

  • Average Weekly Hours: 10
  • Total Sessions: 17
  • Structured Sessions: 10
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Think its more the other way round. At the start of your cycling career, you need to spend a lot mode time outdoors to learn bike handling and group riding skills. Later on, you can afford to spend time just focussing on fitness (an that can be indoors).

It also depends on the cycling discipline. Off-road riders need to spend more time outdoors than TT riders.

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Here’s the fastest guy at TR: https://www.trainerroad.com/career/bnied

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