Attempt at self-coaching - any good & what to monitor?

After a couple of years on TR I’m going to try my hand at self-coaching (still using TR as the software to design workouts and drive the trainer though). I don’t race and mostly want to do gran fondos and longer rides so there’s no real pressure to peak at exactly the right moment. Endurance counts for a lot though.

Input on whether the plan is reasonable, what to monitor and how long to stick to the plan before deciding it’s not working would be awesome!

My goal is to “build out the engine” i.e. increase endurance and fatigue resistance and ride at higher % of FTP for longer period. FTP bumps would be great, but that’s really secondary and a bonus if they happen.

My Plan
The plan I’ve settled on is pretty simple. I was going to follow this for 3 months over winter. From experience I know two days a week of intensity are what I can manage, so I’ve planned in the following days:

  • Tuesday - 80% / 115% over unders - 30 seconds at 115%, 2 minutes at 80% for 8 minutes. 3 sets. Progress out to 12 minute sets. Goal is to improve lactate shuttling.
  • Thursday - sweet spot - start at 4x15 and progress out to 1x60. Build out endurance and TiZ
  • Friday - 90 mins endurance.

Sunday may or may not do a 2 - 3 hour outdoor ride, depending on time available. This is for fun, no real target/agenda.

3 weeks on, 1 week off.

What to Monitor?
FTP is one metric. What else does everyone else measure to determine if a plan is on track?

How Long?
How long would you usually stick to a plan before you determine it’s not working?

Input much appreciated.

What are you planning for the work to recovery week ratio? 3:1? 4:1? 2:1?

On your rough plan, once you figure out the work to recovery week ratio, start laying it out and see what the TSS ramp rate comes out to be. I would pick a ramp rate (week over week for the work weeks) that you think you can sustain, and see what that means for the TiZ increase in your intervals. If you are picking TR workouts, you can also use Workout Levels as a guide in picking the workout progression. If doing custom workouts, then ignore the workout level, as it gets funky - it rated one of my 3x30 at 80% as a sweet spot workout instead of a tempo workout.

What to watch for:

  • Are you completing your hard days? And what is happening to your RPE for these? If the RPE is consistently going up (e.g., moderate to hard, then very hard, then all out), then is a recipe for disaster. And you should think about dialing back the TiZ progression
  • If you use TrainingPeaks, or something similar, track how you are feeling independent of the the workout. That is, are you feeling fresh and ready to do your workout? Are you dreading getting on the bike? Tracking this is a good way to catch if you are eating enough, recovering, ramping too quickly and likely to burnout

Aiming for a 3:1 on/off ratio. I’ve updated the question to include that :+1:

The over unders are work but not a problem to finish.

I’d say my rpe on the SS is up at threshold level for the final set when it gets into the longer ones like 3x20 and 2x30. Not sure if that’s normal since the TR plans I’ve done don’t have intervals that long.

Thanks for info on the TSS ramp rate :+1:.

I don’t use anything other than TR. Is training peaks worth it?

On TrainingPeaks: I’d say 50 / 50 (or maybe less) for the free version.

You could start by using the TR notes to record how you are feeling overall prior to the workout. At least that way, you can go back and review and your overall feeling is changing. I would use a simple scale, something like 1 - 5 or 1 - 7, plus quick notes to add color to the rating. E.g., if 3 is “normal”, then if you rated your feeling as a 2, it could be something like “I slept horribly, woke up several times, was dragging when I got up”.

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Don’t underestimate the benefits of doing a decent endurance workout. Sweetspot/Z4 will only get you so far. I would prioritise the long ride.

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I get it in when I can. Kids activities make it tricky some weekends 🤷 just the way it is right now.

I’ll try and sub an endurance trainer ride in if I can’t get out.

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Maybe have a look at intervals.icu where you can add “Wellness data” on the calender and track the ATL, CTL and TSB if you’re into that sort of thing.

I’m doing the exact same training after discovering my muscle endurance is severely lacking.

  • Goal for next 7 weeks is building up to SS (88-92%) for 60 minutes with two SS and two Z2 90 min per week.
  • Rest week
  • 6 weeks building to one SS (92%) 60 minute, one SS (92% with 105% over intervals) and two Z2 90 min.
  • Rest week and TBD


The intervals.icu fitness chart since I started cycling July 29. for first time in 15 years and no football (soccer) training past 2 years due to long term injury.

Along with ongoing tweaking of the SS intensity (88-92%), RPE, upping TiZ/interval duration and comparing to the fitness chart data should help with monitoring progress.

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If this was my plan, I’d want to see more progression on the Tuesday workouts. Thursday sounds like you have a good progression in mind. Can you negotiate a deal to either make the Friday ride 2-3 hrs or ditch Friday but lock in Sunday? Can you adjust your schedule to get in some of that 2-3hr ride before anyone else is awake to minimize impact to family life? Personally, if your goal is Fondos and longer events I would be looking to progressively increase my long ride. I would try to make it a priority and see what scheduling or other changes you can make or negotiate to get it in (2x1.5hr or 2x2hr probably isn’t as good as 1x3-4hr, but better than 1x2-3hr, if you follow.)

I think 3-6 months is a minimum time necessary to see if a plan is paying off. But you need to be clear on what you are trying to accomplish during that time period, factor in how consistent you were, and see if you feel like you improved what you wanted to improve.

Personal opinion - you’ve been self-coaching since you started using TR you’re just getting more involved in the workout scheduling and plan development now. Tim Cusick has some great webinars for TrainingPeaks that I would recommend watching. If you absorb what he is laying out, its pretty simple to lay out a ‘traditional’ base phase with Tempo / Sweetspot progressions and aerobic endurance ride progressions. Builds are more complicated but if you focus on something specific like O/Us, threshold intervals, supra-threshold intervals, etc. its not hard to put together a 3 week block with progression.

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Self coaching: I’ve been self-coaching using TR since I joined in 2018. For recovery workouts, I use existing TR workouts that I modify on the fly for warmups (always longer, starting with lower intensity). For all other workouts - endurance and above - I have built a pretty large library of workouts in WorkoutCreator each labeled for easy search.

Tracking, Monitoring, Analyzing: I use a combination of TrainingPeaks and WKO5. Too much details to cover here, but generally I would say that the TR analytical tools are good for those that those that have TR tell you what to do and when to do it (i.e. you don’t need to concern yourself with data that may give you input to modifications to workouts and plans, such as loading up on a sweet spot progression).

Training Peaks on its own (premium version) is a great starting point. It has a calendar similar to TR, but provides a complete PMC chart that is date customizable (ATL, CTL, TSS, TSB) as well as other charts you may find useful. And ride analysis is substantially more detailed with a section allowing you to provide a description and notes.

WKO is for coaches and athletes who are very serious about their data. For example, if I had the goals that you described, I would be tracking TTE and Stamina over each FTP period and between training periods. Their analysis tools are top of the line and your data is easily synced to TP data. However, the program does take some time to learn but WKO provides an extensive library of videos to help you understand.

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Yep, the value I see in TR after a few years using the system is that it works best when I modify my ATP based on what I know works for me. Good to see I’m far from alone here in not just using the PB plans etc. I think the library of workouts and calendar functions well for my needs.