Editing a Plan Builder training plan (sickness, travels): dynamic or not?

I have a question that isn’t answered by the Plan Builder blog post: are training plans created with Plan Builder dynamic or not? I have been sick for close to three weeks now and I hope to be able to resume training next weekend. I know how to manually edit my training plan, but what is not clear is whether Plan Builder dynamically adapts to me pushing training out for a few weeks.

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The Plan Builder is not designed to be dynamic in its current form. We are working on the ability to schedule time off (vacation) and adapt for unscheduled time off (sickness/injury), however, we do not have an ETA for this feature at the moment.

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Is there a recommended workaround? As far as I understand, moving my schedule manually will just move my entire schedule. By the way, will pushing my training schedule back also move my races?

In the case of a training interruption due to sickness, injury, or vacation, our current recommended course of action is to keep your plan intact and leave your skipped weeks as “skipped” in your Calendar.

Then, on the week when you are jumping back into the plan, select the -1 versions of each workout to allow you to more comfortably ramp back into training. “-” versions of a workout typically decrease the duration and the number of intervals prescribed in the workout, which lowers your weekly TSS as you’re getting back into the swing of things. You can learn more about alternate workout versions here.

If a workout does not have an alternate workout version, or if the “-” version is still slightly too difficult, we recommend decreasing the intensity to between 90-95% so that the workouts feel tough but manageable.

I know this is not an ideal solution, but we are working to program more complex logic into Plan Builder so that eventually we can to handle all this for you. In the meantime, this is our recommended course of action for keeping you on track for your events.

It will not move your “A” race, but pushing weeks has other repercussions. For one, it becomes out of sync with your events so that you will be building up and tapering after your A event rather than leading up to your A event.

Another side effect is that you lose all ability to make changes to the plans or volumes in the future, which is problematic.

We are working hard to make this process a bit easier in the future, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

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Thanks for the response.

I know you are working hard on incorporating shifts into Plan Builder for e. g. when life intervenes and throws you a curveball.

So just to give you an idea what ideally I would like to do in TrainerRoad:
(1) I’d mark my sick days as such in the calendar. There should be an “Illness” and a “Time Off/Vacation” option.

(2) As soon as I am healthy enough to restart my training, I’d like to tell TrainerRoad as much.

(3) TrainerRoad then presents me with several options, but presents me with a sensible default. E. g. if I only skip a week, it could dial down the difficulty as you suggested. But in my case, it might suggest to repeat the week prior to the illness at -1 and then ramps up.

The default should be easy, something like “Do you want to restart training?” with “Yes”, “No” and “Customize” as options.

(4) TrainerRoad then dynamically updates the training plan.

In case you add a vacation or a business trip, an option for a very intense week just prior might be useful. Also here, TrainerRoad could ask: “Do you want to add a training camp/intensive week just prior to your trip?” with the choices being “Yes” and “No”.

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This would be awesome. I am currently trying to figure out how to plan an A race (hopefully?) three weeks after returning from a four week adventure in Australia. Dynamic plan builder would be very helpful.

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Automatially-adjusting plans is our ultimate goal. The logic behind it gets complicated quickly though, so our Development Team has some work cut out for them :+1:.

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Hey Bryce, you say it isn’t an ideal solution. What confuses me though is it contradicts the old advice of push the weeks back. I can see why you are saying this now if plan builder works back from an event (so long as holiday is not just prior to the event), but it seems quite a compromise if we are talking about more than a few days off.

When I heard about plan builder I was all set to come back to use TR but this does offers potentially huge functional gap for anyone who goes on holiday or gets ill. Appreciate the no ETA messaging here but do you know when that might be clarified?

I stopped using TR previously waiting for specific development items (Android bug fixes) which impacted TRs flexibilitu, to my knowledge they never got done. These would no longer impact me due to hardware changes and I was really excited about plan builder. The lack of flexibility however crops up again now in this, and I can see me and other users struggling with the logic of the ‘workaround’ being the right thing.

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So in the previous ecosystem, the onus was on you, the athlete, to adjust your plans and keep everything on schedule. The previous recommendations did not take into account when your “A” event was, and it was up to you to make sure everything was adjusted properly leading into your event.

The new system, on the other hand, does take into account your “A” races and is deliberately building a plan to optimize your performance within a certain timeframe. So in this new ecosystem, we want to keep you on track so that you can peak appropriately for your priority event. By leaving your plan as is, and choosing the -1 versions of your return-week workouts, you keep everything on track while making the necessary adjustments to ramp yourself back into training.

But as I mentioned, this is not a perfect solution and we know we can do better. Accounting for vacation/sickness/injury time is currently our #1 development priority, and we are dedicated to constantly improving Plan Builder’s capabilities.

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Trying to come back from illness and injury is such a highly variable situation. I’m honestly not sure how you’d tackle that outside of what you have outlined. Perhaps if there were a way for an athlete to signal plan builder that they were not at full capacity for some period of the individual program that had transpired, and were now back to full health and ready to train unimpeded? Then plan builder could figure out how to best utilize the remaining time.

Planning a vacation block at the outset seems like lower hanging fruit.

Yeah, it seems to me that the plan builder would basically recalculate from the restart date, starting from where the plan left off. The key is how to populate the first week or so to ramp back into training, which would be dependent on amount of time off.

Good software design should plan make the default easy (e. g. plan for something like a head cold, not a broken collar bone), but allow the user to customize it.

We all know and understand this isn’t the best solution, right from the very first official blog post, the TR team said that they are now working hard to deal with time off due to illness and scheduled vacation.

AFAIK there is no software training solution out there that has the functionality we all want, and that Plan Builder is best-in-class despite its shortcomings. (If I am wrong, please let us know.)

Releasing Plan Builder without this crucial functionality is another discussion, but IMHO it was probably better to offer it as a way to create a training plan, because it is better than choosing base, build and specialty. I am sure the TR team has learnt quite a bit from how people are using Plan Builder and they are usually actively listening to complaints.

Plus, once a dynamic Plan Builder is in place, TrainerRoad will have a huge leg up compared to the competition, because they can either tweak or completely replace parts of the logic that dynamically generates training plans. So perhaps the software could use power deviation levels to detect whether your FTP has increased or decreased. They could incorporate something like 4D power if they found a way to make good use of that data. They could detect your VO2max power level (e. g. 115 % or 122 % rather than 120 %) and adapt your workouts. But the first stepping stone is a dynamical Plan Builder. I’m quite excited about this.

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It’ll be interesting to see how Plan Builder eventually works given the above. Totally get why what has been done has been done, get the product out there and give some value, get feedback, even bug fix.

Thinking more about behaviour with time off though, there must be a logical point that varies significantly depending on individual/fitness/fatigue/place in and type of plan/goals etc. when -1 versions would be less appropriate than the old advice of pausing and resuming / going backwards and redoing some sessions. I could easily see too the best outcome could be reached, based on a fixed event, by the plan being scrapped by the software and an alternative prescribed. All this to me is really exciting and genuinely moving things forward.

Building on that the big value is if/when that programme rebaselines you appropriately on the way through to ensure you hit the right systems as well as then tailoring the load against each system to get the right results for where you are versus events. Even with my limited knowledge I can see a couple of logical ways to do that, again interesting to see how TR make it work.

By the way I am not knocking the work done nor the direction of the product. I acknowledge I don’t use TR at the moment, although was considering it. My biggest consideration in
a training plan is flexibility (as in moving training days week to week, not picking it up and dropping it when fancy). I’ve not used Plan Builder and given any race I might care about currently is 2021 I can’t see it offers me much as is. With what it could be I can see it offering value to everyone, if executed right. That is interesting and like everyone else I am waiting to see what and when.

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I am currently missing the first week of my scheduled plan because of man flu. Obviously I can’t just skip the first week as I won’t have a sensible FTP, but testing when still ill is a bad plan. Am I better off pushing the first week and cutting a week out of the middle (and then pulling to bring everything back on schedule), or should I just redo the entire plan builder process?

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I redid the whole Plan Builder when I got sick before I started. Dropping a week might change how it divides up the phases, so since you haven’t started yet, might as well optimize as much as possible.

Makes sense. Chances are I’m gonna get sick again before the 'cross season starts anyway. :slight_smile:

Here’s a possible workaround for now, at least for a specific case: I started a plan in November, and have 1 week of vacation coming up in early March. “A” event is not until late summer, but I have a “B” event in late April. So however I manage the “ripple” of my vacation, it needs to be eliminated in time for that “B” event.

The question for me was whether to:

  1. Skip the workouts planned for the particular week of my vacation (in my case, skipping week 2 of build); or
  2. “Slide” the plan forward (so I do week 2 of build when I get back from vacation) and then cut out some week in the future, so I still end up at the April event (whose dates won’t change just because I went on vacation).

I realized I can’t just re-start Plan Builder with a start date of when I get back from vacation, since it won’t “know” I already have a full set of base blocks in me.

So here’s what I did:

  • I first got a recommended plan with my actual start date (early November), assuming no illness or vacation.
  • I then re-ran Plan Builder but starting everything one week later. This let me see what training week Plan Builder chooses to “sacrifice” when it has one less week to work with.
  • I then populate my calendar manually, based on a hybrid of the two Plan Builder results.

NOTES:

  1. This is just me, and I’m not exactly lighting up the podiums so what do I know?
  2. If the illness/vacation/interruption is “long,” I might need to work in some time to get back into the swing of things. How long is “long”? How much of a return on-ramp would I need? No idea. If I was off more than 2 weeks I’d probably go back to the latter weeks of SSBII and do a new Plan Builder with the start date manipulated to dovetail into a post-base block at the right time.
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Since you haven’t completed your first week yet, I recommend re-processing the Plan Builder from your new actual start date. Pushing/pulling weeks will “break” your plan and will not allow it to be editable in the future, so that is more of a last resort than a procedure that we’d typically recommend.

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@Bryce
Thanks for advice on what to do if we have a vacation planned. But this does mean 2 weeks different training compared to what Plan Builder suggested - skipped week and -1 week

What would happen if I entered a week long stage race in place of the vacation week - ‘c’ race with TSS of 1 each day?

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Sounds like a clever hack.