How choose plan for outside season?

Hi. Some background, hope it might help answer my question, sorry for long text.

I am on a road bike since 2017, did some zwift training plans at the winter (horrible experience), just riding in the summer without any structure.
In the winter of 2019 I started using TR, choose general base, after base was general build, and repeated until middle of the spring. I increased my FTP from 170 to 210 watts.
In summer I didn’t follow TR plan, but I tried to add 2 workouts per week, usually something like 5x8 102% threshold and 6x4 or 8x4 110-115% vo2max, with 1.5-2h ride at zone 2 between, and 3-5 hour endurance ride at weekends, total time between 10-15h. At the end of outdoor season, I did some zwift racing, and cycle repeat. This approach works well for me, at the end of 2020 I achieve my peak, 250 watts (4,9 watt/kg) at 20 min, and 245 watts at 40 min.
I follow this approach in 2021, but at the start of 2022 I lost my job, had to move to another city, my season was ruined, and all year was unstructured, I just rode when I can and sometimes tried to get some KOM just for fun, I had no motivation to train hard, there is no race or cycling event in new area.
For 2023 I choose not even trying and just have fun, no structure, as an addition at the end of summer I broke my bike, and again lost motivation until October, gain some weight, lost all summer fitness.

At the end of October 2023 I decide to try TR again, adaptive training looks interesting for me, and lack of fitness didn’t let me enjoy mountain routes.
I just created the high volume plan with plan builder, set end date to April, and decide to fully trust the plan and adaptive training. I was really surprised how good it felt. Gradual load progression, no burnout, no crazy hard workouts. After 6 months (and one flu in March), I increased my FTP from 197 to 234 watts, lost weight from 56 to 51 kg, and want to continue structured training with TR.

I searched forum, listen TR podcast, watched TR videos, but I don’t understand how to choose TR plan for outdoor season. I want to get all benefit from adaptive training. I can do 4 2h ride during weekdays, maybe sometimes 5, 2 of them high intensity, and 1 or 2 3-5h endurance at weekend, total time per week around 12 hours. I don’t have any race on the calendar, I just want to ride faster, longer, further, feel less tired, and just enjoy cycling.
All TR plans limited to 8-9 hours, and don’t have endurance longer than 2.5h at the weekend (except traditional base), and I don’t understand how to add extra hours or even extra ride without breaking plan. Can I just ride extra? How adaptive training deal with it? Which plan should i choose and how to stick to it correctly? Or should I repeat my past experience, and ride 2 random workout per week and trust my feelings?
I have Assioma power pedals and Edge 520 cycling computer.

It sounds like what you’ve been doing has been working for you - so my suggestion is to roughly carry on as you have been:

  • doing a couple of “key” workouts per week;
  • plus as much easy endurance as time permits, while still enabling those couple of key workouts to be hit hard;
  • doing consistent work, with periodic recovery.

However, and particularly as better weather allows for more outside fun rides, I’d suggest not treating any TR plan as scripture that must be followed but as sensible guidance which you can adjust as necessary to suit your needs. For example:

  • be guided by PLs and the workouts that adaptive training might suggest, but don’t be ruled by them: choose different workouts when you feel you should or wish to;
  • for your endurance rides, forget about PLs and the durations suggested in a plan, and ride what you feel you can, while still ensuring sufficient freshness for the key workouts you’re choosing to do;
  • make sure the process remains enjoyable, and be very wary of sacrificing “fun” just so you can religiously adhere to some arbitrary plan, unless you have a very important goal that you’re targeting which you feel warrants the sacrifice;
  • pay some attention to RLGL signals, and in particular how you feel, to help ensure you rest and recover well and don’t dig a hole for yourself.

You’ve not mentioned specific event goals other than enjoying riding mountain routes. That perhaps suggests a focus on sustainable power and endurance may be appropriate in terms of plan selection, but the choice is yours.

I think getting the best from TR over the long run comes from taking a flexible approach to using the various tools provided.

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