Fitting trainerroad in with actual riding?

So my second year with trainerroad has saw me figure out a few things with my routine, what my body needs to improve ftp and what kind of volume my joints can handle without injury flaring up.

I’ve become an advocate of low volume plans + a longish zone 2 outdoor ride at the weekend, usually a Saturday so I can take it easy on the Sunday then back to my trainerroad plan on the Monday.

If I stick to that regime, I gain watts over the course of the plan. If I deviate (like I have done this past month) and throw in a 1 hour zwift race in place of a scheduled workout once a week then goodbye any gains😢.

I’ve found myself somehow backed into some weird corner where the only outdoor rides I do are zone 2 or even zone 1 recovery rides because anything more and it’ll eat into my ability to be fresh enough to complete my trainerroad plan!

Reckon I’ve actually rode outdoors with some speed maybe twice in the last 2 months and it has me wondering just what the hell am I doing? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those slow rides but honestly I feel like there must be a point where I have to quit trainerroad just to be able to get back to enjoying riding how I want, when I want.

I can’t be the only non-racer who feels like this, can I?

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Nope, I have a similar thought process.

Over the winter, though, I will be doing exactly the model you describe - 3 TR workouts in the week and (weather permitting) a long ride outside at the weekend.

Come next summer, though, I’ll be outside as often as possible.

My thought process: I want to get fitter, but I’m no racer and certainly no pro, so if ‘doing my own thing’ over the summer slows my progress (in terms of FTP improvement) then so be it. This is a hobby and should be fun.

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Nope, you’re not alone, but my question for you would be, what’s your ultimate goal? Are you a racer, then you need to focus on gains. If you just like to ride your bike well, who cares about the gains, go enjoy the bike.

Coach Jonathan sold a gravel bike on Instagram a few weeks ago. One of the reasons why he was selling was that he “didn’t ride bikes, he’s either training or racing”. That hit me. I’m TOTALLY the opposite. I ride to be as fit a me as I can be. I’d like to be able to hop onto any ride and not get dropped and if I do an occasional sprint duathlon, I like it if my bike split is one of the fastest, but those aren’t my primary goals.

I do LV on M-W-F. T and Th are an easy spin with a friend that is learning to love riding. Saturday or Sunday is usually long…50, metric, full century, whatever. The other day might just be a spin to breakfast or nothing at all. I don’t worry too much about volume or if my recovery is perfect…why…because I can push a week in TR and attack workouts when I’m fresh. I don’t have to stick to perfection of a schedule.

Does this mean I don’t see gains? No, not at all. Am I were I want to be? Nope. Both of those are ok because when I take a few weeks away from structured training, I can come right back, do a ramp test, and be at the same FTP. That’s the biggest takeaway from this. I can drop all structure for a few weeks, just ride and have fun and come right back where I left off. This is because MY main focus is building lasting fitness, not brittle fitness. (Thank you to Coach Chad for introducing me to that term.)

Literally, my ONLY complaint about TR is that it’s SOOOOOOOOO event focused. It’s a fantastic platform to build great fitness regardless of events and I feel like that gets lost sometimes. I know there are things in the works that will improve the general fitness progression so for now I just let plan builder give me stuff to do and I do it as best I can. If I’m too cooked to get something done, I push the week, rest up some and try again when I’m fresh. Since I don’t have an event “due date”, it really doesn’t matter if I do a workout today, tomorrow or next week. What matters is that when I do it, I crush it…that’s when I see the gains.

Now, if you’re a racer…just ignore me.

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No I’m not a racer, (see my final sentence).

I ride 100% solo - i’m not even a part of a club, though I’m committed to giving one of the local groups a try next Spring.

I was recently invited to race in a mid-week zwift time trial team. My first thought was, ‘that sounds like great fun, I’m gonna try that’, and then I had to turn it down because there is absolutely no way an event like that each week fits into my plan at all.

That’s kinda where I realised how wrong something is.

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Mid week workout on LV plan is usually something close to over unders…leave it out and do the TTT. I wouldn’t skip the end of week workout as those are usually about higher power endurance which is what you want for a TTT.

and just like that…you’re a racer! :slight_smile:

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If you don’t have an event based goal, and instead want to just get generally faster, I’d suggest figuring out what that means to you and what you are training for

It doesn’t have to be a race, or any kind of structured event. It could be that you want to go faster on a regular loop you ride, or up a certain climb. It could be that you want to be able to go do a 5 hour solo century or just get home from a 3 hour ride and not feel absolutely destroyed

Find out what makes riding fun for you and prioritize that, both in your training and in your riding. Make time for it, make it the reason you are doing the plan and the slow rides. Then make sure you go out and do the thing!

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If the territory is friendly, you should be outside. The TR marketers and the time crunched crowd would like you to accept the false dichotomy of outside == fun, inside == performance. Indoor has its place as a temporary replacement of the real thing.

The thing is, you do have to be disciplined with the hard efforts. Push yourself outside as well. Follow the principles of progressive load, variety of stimuli and enough volume.

And stay away from the cult.

Cheers!

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This is basically me too. However, I tend to end up only doing 1 or 2 TR workouts during the week due to life generally getting in the way but that’s just how it is. I’m riding to have fun and be a faster me but I’d never do indoor over the chance to ride outdoors. Doesn’t mean you have to drop TR altogether, you just use it to fill in the gaps where you can’t get outside :slight_smile:

Edit: I am seeing improvements too, over not riding of course. I am faster. I’m faster than I would be if I didn’t do it. I may not be faster than someone that rides more often but I’m faster than those that don’t train at all and I’m faster than me when I don’t ride :slight_smile:

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I only ride outdoors weekends, unless I’m on holiday.

During the week it’s indoors only because of family, time and weather constraints.

I’m still very much building my engine just now and that’s about it - my goal for 2020 was to hit 300 ftp and I’m as near as dammit already.

In my head I’m often asking myself where is this all going? Will I be happy at a 330 ftp? 350?

Then what? Use that power to attack grannies on my local climbs? :joy:

I dunno. Maybe I’ll just suck it up for this winter, continue what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll find my place in this hobby when I try a club next Spring.

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I reached the same conclusion about 5 minutes after originally signing up for TR 4 years ago! Whole point of cycling is going fast outdoors, if I can’t do that something’s wrong.

Don’t think I’ve ever followed a TR plan to the letter for exactly this reason, even after outdoor workouts became a feature. I just take the core bits of a TR plan and then supplement. The key is figuring out what training stimulus and fatigue the “supplemental” bits are dishing out so that you can work out which bits of the TR plan to keep, discard or replace.

Right now I’ve just gone back to base and my plan is:

  • Take the 2 long SS sessions out of the SSB HV plan and stick them on the calendar. That gives me the week to week progression and is the foundation of my training for the next 3 months.
  • Add in 1 shortish session a week where I go fast, preferably outside. I find I do best with one ride a week where I spend some time above threshold, even during base. Maybe because I’m getting older (45), maybe because I don’t do enough volume to build fitness with a diet of only working at threshold or below. This session could be a midweek crit, a drop ride, or since lockdown more likely a small group doing a paceline on a flattish local loop. Or maybe just go for a ride and go hard on the hills. Or if the weather’s foul I might do a Zwift race or possibly a TR short shorts workout like 30 seconds on/off VO2 intervals. WTRL TTT filled this niche on my schedule quite a bit during early lockdown when we weren’t allowed to ride outside, and it’s likely to make a comeback now winter is here and it’s getting cold and wet!
  • Everything else is mostly easy. Long ride most weekends. Coffee rides with friends. Z2 workouts on TR if the weather’s bad. I don’t put these on the calendar, I give myself the flexibility to play it a bit by ear depending on work, weather, what friends and clubmates are offering, how the legs feel, etc. Golden rule is to make sure these rides aren’t accumulating enough fatigue to impact the quality of the core SS workouts
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After 2 or 3 years I’ve given up trying to fit in a structured plan alongside all my outdoor riding. Inside on the turbo is now limited to either when the weather is rubbish or if I need a gentle recovery ride. If I am doing a workout inside iI just pick one that matches up with how fresh and recovered I feel. As I’ve said on another thread, it’s easy for me as I’m retired and have plenty of time.

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I’ve been struggling with this too, especially during this summer when there were fewer cars and outdoor riding was even better. Quite a few days I would be starting on the trainer and looking through the window at a beautiful day and thinking … why am I in here again? I’m not a racer although that would be cool someday. Likely not in the cards with life stuff presently.

I’m trying to save up my trainer motivation for those bad weather days and more specifically this winter, so that outdoor rides next season are that much faster and more enjoyable. I like @cartsman’s approach to keeping the SSB intervals to calendar and playing a lot of the rest by ear, and just enjoying things.

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I must be one of the very few, but I do nearly all of my TR workouts outdoors, exported to my wahoo bolt. I’ve had good results and realistic peaks which I can replicate when doing group rides or going for PR’s.

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This is a great summation of the battle that sometimes is the indoor trainer. I have that same thought process some days Max, however, we have a little one year old son and I have more of a chance of fitting in a trainer session at 5am for a few hours before everyone wakes up then I do getting outside most days. I do have one day on the weekend where I’m able to get out, but mostly at the moment, I’m settling into new Dad life and trying to find my balance.

This is what brought me to TR in the first place. I was able to do 12-15hrs outside previous to kids, but now I’m restricted to 3-4hrs outside on one day of the weekend. Even less at the moment considering our city is in Covid-19 lockdown and can’t be outside for more than 2hrs. So yeah, I was drawn to the structured training side of things to help maintain, and even build, my fitness and perhaps make me stronger out on the road on the Saturday or at the end of the year when we go to the coast and have our Christmas summer holidays.

My question is, does anyone here use TR to build fitness for the weekend rides? And have you noticed a difference in your performance outside as a result of engaging in the structured nature of TR during the week?

My mates (some of which don’t have kids so don’t really understand the time constraints of having a young family) all think the trainer is a waste of time and should be relegated to poor weather only. They don’t believe that the trainer, nor TR for that matter, can actually make you faster out on the road in the bunches.

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Outdoor workouts seem like a good solution here.
Also worth mentioning that you don’t have to be 100% committed to a indoor plan year round, you can utilize them at specific points of the year depending on what your goals are, or adapt them to your individual needs. Like doing a structured, mostly indoor plan aimed at a personal goal, then taking a break from that for a couple of weeks to head outside, enjoy the hard-earned fitness, and maybe recover a bit. Take an “offseason” even if you’re not racing and ditch the performance focus for however long you feel is necessary. Take your key sessions outside if possible, or dial back the indoor work to a ‘maintenance’ or ‘time crunched’ plan to give yourself a bit more wiggle room for outdoor efforts.

You’ve got a lot of options, and it’s not just a binary between being bored indoors or slower outside. TR and it’s competitors are just a tool to use as you see fit, not something you have to follow to the letter to get any value from- and given you’re not aiming for event-focused goals, you can certainly afford to be pretty flexible.

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How easy was it for you to find suitable terrain for the different types of workouts outdoors? Any time I’ve done an outdoor TR workout, that is by far the hardest part for me to nail down.

Super awesome feature. I’ve gotten better at picking suitable routes myself. And I’ve read the resources the TR team has put out

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So my quick answer is this. If you like the LV and want to race then drop the wed workout and race. It’s what I actually do. M-TR, W-GR, F-TR, S-slow GR. Off Tue,TH, and Sunday’s. This works well for me and I see nice steady gains all year. Probably not As much if I was staying on a plan but it’s what keeps me sane and happy.

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I’ve alway viewed fresh legs as a limited but replenishable resource that needs to be managed.

The competing options on the plate for me are always:

  1. Outdoor solo rides and/or Strava Segment PR attempts
  2. Fast group rides (pre #2020)
  3. TrainerRoad
  4. Zwift Racing
  5. Weighted Squats

I’ve always prioritized anything I can do outdoors because I love climbing, descending, pursuing, competing, and most of all: handling a bike.

Indoor riding, specifically TrainerRoad, is great for soaking up very efficient training. I enjoy that a stationary bike allows me to safely go cross-eyed while doing Over Unders. The worst that happens is someone finds me in my room passed out on the Kickr in front of a failed workout screen after I’m hours late for dinner.

Point is, consecutive TR indoor sessions eventually builds lots of fatigue, so I use it when I know I won’t be riding outdoors for a while. Classic fatigue vs form thing, I suppose.

I’m always in time for dinner.

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In answer to your question, in theory that’s what I do but in reality the outdoor weekend ride at the moment needs to be easy, which is part of my problem.

If I hammer it on a Sunday I can’t expect to complete my trainerroad workout on the Monday and that leads into messing up my entire next week’s progress.

This is the kind of bind I’m in at the moment.

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God how deep are you guys going to be affecting TR the next week. Don’t have any issues doing 4hr outdoor rides sat & sun, and hit all the TR stuff mid week.

Something isn’t right if you’re regularly that fatigued after the weekend

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