In your situation, we’d advise picking a Low or Mid Volume plan and then adding the extra hours you have available on top of that.
Low or Mid Volume will give you a good outline for the structure you should do each week while still allowing for some flexibility to add extra endurance mileage or group rides to your plan.
If you happen to do a hard group ride (or hard unstructured ride), we’d recommend replacing one of your harder interval sessions with that ride. In general, you’ll want to have ~3 hard training days per week, with the rest of your riding spent at lower intensity. Too much high-intensity work could swamp your system and lead to burnout.
The longer social group ride on the weekend that you mentioned sounds like it would be a good low-intensity session! Mid Volume plans include an “Achievable” workout (on Sundays by default), and we often advise athletes to replace that ride with longer endurance work if they’d like to and are able to do so.
Here’s a good article we have with more info on adding volume to your existing TR plan:
I guess I’m looking at this as a chicken and egg question.
If one trains to compete in races and group rides, but group rides and consistent racing arent accounted for in a plan…how does that get reconciled? Is the answer to just train with no goal to be fit for? To race/ride group rides with no fitness?
I don’t mean this as a direct attack on TR…just that it seems to match up much better with times of the year where there is not any competitive riding available.
Short answer is that people have to do some tweaks in their plan to manually swap out TR workouts for at least closely related outside rides & races. TR is a self-coaching app that does a fair bit of the work, but not all of it. Users need to take the reins at times to make appropriate edits.
HV Base was the part of my training where I did my biggest gain and most enjoyable workouts. But you have to like Sweet Spot. Major flaw was that it has no time for “fun, outdoor rides”. You can replace last SST or some endurance workout, but I’m pretty sure that AI can’t manage them properly.
However, HV Build (sustained power) was purely pain and I hated it. It has way too much high intensity (and I like high intensity yet), and it’s mentally horrible to check your calendar and think “so 90 min vo2 max, then 90 min Threshold, then 120 min. extra threshold”. 120 minutes of hard workout, even if it has a lot of recovery, is mentally a huge barrer.
My personal preference is mixing HV Base phase with MV Build Phase. If you have extra motivation, simply add z2 workouts and outdoor ride to the MV Build. I find HV Base quite “easy” for the fatigue management and add strength training to complete my week.
MV Base is not for me. Threshold/VO2max workout during Base phase don’t go very well with strength lifting. I simply can’t properly recover from the gym workout to complete high intensity cycling workout the same/next day. Once in build phase, it’s kinda okay because your body is used to Neuro-Muscular stress/adaptation.
Agree with the comments that recommend LV if you want to supplement with group rides.
I’ve tried MV in the past, but it leaves me too fatigued for fast group rides. I have to stick to the plan, and only the plan.
Right now I’m doing LV. That usually gives me 2x intervals during the week and 1x mid-length/mid-intensity weekend ride. And I feel good enough to do a mid-week group ride and a longer group ride on the weekend. That gives me ~3.5 hours from LV, 3-5 hours of unstructured rides, for 6-9 hours total.
Once winter sets in, I might go back to MV, as I’ll be mostly on the trainer.
Eh, not really. I do 14hrs a week with 10-12k kj of work, aside from longer stuff where I may be doing more sustained work, I can get by with my usual 2-3hr stuff with breakfast before and whatever glycogen I have in me and of course eating a carb centric diet off.
Not that much. Low and high intensity workouts have “kinda” the same amount of calories burned (hard workout tend to have lot of z1 intervals).
The biggest differences in term of calories spent are your FTP and the training volume. But even with a lot of extra volume, it’s not really expensive if you buy cheap but effective food (eg. chocolate milk, jelly and peanut butter, gummy bears, …).
Around FTP = 300w, a workout is around 190-200w. So 720 kcal each hour.
Considering 15h/week, that’s 1500 kcal by day for the workout (excluding rest day).
Very true - I’m more triathlon than pure cycling, so hours of training are similar - certainly upwards of 15 hours per week. Not sure of the amount of work get through in terms of kcal due to 2 bikes but 1 power meter and the calorie expenditure estimates from running being questionable at best.
Group rides and racing aren’t always the best training.
Group rides are great, and so is racing, but they’re not the same as consistent structured training. If you really want to get faster, we recommend sticking with structured training as much as possible.
It definitely helps to prioritize your events into A/B/C races to help get a better view of your schedule from a 30,000-foot view. From there, it might be easier to see when you would want to focus on structure a bit more and maybe even skip a group ride or two in order to hit the really important workouts to best prepare for your A event.
If your only intensity comes from group rides and races, you’re probably going to stagnate or even lose fitness. I believe you when you say you don’t mean to attack TR, so please believe me when I say I don’t mean to attack you, but I’ve seen many comments that you’ve posted here on the TR Forum where you state you’ve been disappointed in your lack of progress while using TR, only to reveal that most of your structured training gets pushed to the side once the weather gets nicer. For what it’s worth, I can’t think of any training plan/app/coach that would sacrifice structured work for unstructured rides and races.
I certainly don’t think the answer is to train without a goal – but if one fails to prioritize the hard work that needs to be done in order to gain fitness and achieve their goals, I do think they’ll end up racing/riding group rides without the fitness they were hoping to have. Sometimes, it’s worth skipping Tuesday Night Worlds to hammer out a tough interval session.
My personal anecdote on ‘getting faster’ vs. ‘balancing group rides’
I spent two seasons figuring out how to race in cat 123 fields, doing some structure, but also 2-3 group rides/week and mostly pack finishing in the sanctioned races. Decided I wanted to give it a go to get my cat 1 upgrade and completely sacrificed unstructured rides and found my best form and was able to get the points to upgrade.
How much of this was figuring out the race dynamics and how much was the increased repeatability (my FTP didn’t go up a huge amount that season) I gained from doing structure? Impossible for me to say - but certainly my fitness was better that season than any season prior. Was it more fun? Ultimately - yes, because I set a hard (for me) goal and achieved it. Did I miss out on group rides/races? Absolutely
It was a sacrifice, but with the next season being sacrificed on the altar of COVID-19 I was well prepared to avoid group rides and just found peace in the structure since I wasn’t comfortable doing group rides for most of 2020 anyway
No real point in this - just wanted to give some data that we’re all motivated differently and that some of your prior posts seemed to minimize motivations/rewards that differed from yours. So…I’m glad it seems your mindset has shifted a bit based on that last post
I think one of the perils of the internet is that it is so easy to have miscommunication. The goal never was to minimize anyones goals. Hell I have the same goals. It’s more, if refusing to do group rides, or go for long solo rides is the price to pay for getting faster, I’d prefer to stay cat 4 forever.
Now, I don’t actually believe the choice is binary like that that, but I’m not going to prioritize trainer rides over other stuff.
Let me chime in with the others and suggest low volume to start.3-5 hours of structured riding plus another 3-5 hours of unstructured riding is closer to the load you are currently carrying than trying to do 5-10 hours of structured riding PLUS a few unstructured rides.
You can always add volume through “train now” if you want more intensity, but you should get at least 4-6 weeks into a plan to see how you’re doing and whether you need to add volume.
They really should call low volume “standard volume”.
Around here people get faster doing a lot of group rides in the summer. If you lose fitness, you are doing something wrong. The fundamentals of endurance training are fairly simple. It’s not as either/or as some would have you believe. Do your group rides with purpose and progress them.
I was in the same boat. The time/volume weren’t limited. But the intensity trainerroad uses was just far too much to keep up with. Granted this was on a tri plan and the running intensity played a huge factor. Ultimately, the AT that the program uses won’t correct if youre intended fun social ride turns into a slugfest. At best, it may give you an easier variant but it will never turn a threshold workout (for example) and swap it for a recovery ride.
If you’re only cycling, I’d say go low volume and fit in your other rides around that and not be afraid to swap any of the prescribed TR workouts with easier Z2 riding.
It seems from reading the posts on TR, most people who find themselves cooked from combining group rides with TR structure the common thread is they’re swinging on the back as long as possible.
Now of course, that’s good fun, and doesn’t take away from the whole make sure you’re not stacking intensity on intensity thing. I think if more people did as you say though they’d be able to progress more smoothly.