I think this all comes down to your goals. If you’re trying to get stronger (FTP being a reasonable proxy for this), then my personal belief is that consistently following a structured training plan will give you the best return. There are a few elements in that statement that I think are worth digging deeper on.
- Consistently following a plan is not just stringing some random TR workouts together to fit in around the rest of your life.
- Paired with point 1. your plan needs to provide progressive stress over time. This is why you need to think about your training in months, not in workouts.
- Your hard workouts need to be paired with sufficient rest so that you are adequately prepared to work hard for the next hard workout, but also to give your body time to adapt. Make the hard days hard and the easy days easy.
So, how do you fit a bunch of group rides into this? What are group rides and what are they not? They’re a chance to hang out with your friends, which makes them social and fun. I like both of those things. They usually also behave more like races than training sessions. So they’re not absent of benefit, but they don’t offer the same kind of progressive stress that a structured training plan provides.
Looking at your situation, a group ride/race on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday is not going to provide space for training on top of that. You’re going to be tired pretty much the whole week with that work load to the point where you will not be properly rested to get into a hard training session and get the most out of it. So, if you want to maximize fun, I’d stick with your 3 group rides, make sure you ride them hard and give up all your other training. You probably could do an easy spin on top, maybe on a Sunday, but other than that you’re probably tapped.
If you wanted to maximize your training benefit. I’d pick a Low Volume plan and then pick your favorite group ride to mix in with that. So, maybe you like the Saturday group ride the most. You’d have:
- M: Rest
- T: TR
- W: Rest
- T: TR
- F: Rest
- S: Group Ride
- S: TR
Or some combination of that. If you wanted more work you could slide an aerobic ride (Pettit, Recess, etc) into 1 or 2 of your Rest days.
What I would not do is try to do everything and just smash myself every day of the week.