How to decide workout calendar after being out of training?

I did a pretty demanding outdoor group ride this Saturday that left me somewhat “crippled” (.9 IF for 4.25 hours) and frostbitten/injured. My zones for that ride:

I’m holding off on riding until Thursday. I am following SSB 1 LV, and I have the following workouts left: Warlow, Carillon, Tallac, and Palladise, plus the recovery week. I am new to structured training, and I have 3 options to decide between:

  1. Treat this week as the recovery week, doing a recovery ride, and then doing an FTP test at the end of this week. After the test, just jump into SSB1, and straight into SSB2. I think I’ve made some gains since my first test as well, so that would either verify or break that claim.

  2. Do everything as usual, pushing all the workouts back.

  3. Switch the workout order so that I don’t do over unders (warlow) on Thursday.

  4. Something else?

Anyone got any advice? I’m probably overanalyzing this, but I want to know what my options are.

Do you have any set goals coming up that your schedule is planned around?

If not, I’d probably push the rest of SSB LV I back by a week and inset 1-2 recovery rides before I tackled Warlow.

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Yes, some early races, but I just want to get as far into the program as I can before them.

You may need to ease yourself back into the hard workouts. Ideally you would have done a recovery ride on Tuesday instead of staying completely off the bike. Since you missed that, I’d probably say a more endurance ride on Thursday, then finish up the remainder of your SSB1 (adjust calendar workouts as necessary) and go into your SSB1 recovery week as scheduled.

TrainerRoad can and should be used up to and through your race season. So you don’t need to “get as far into the program” before your races and then just drop your TR training. You should look at your cycling and racing in the long term. You want to build your fitness throughout the season and year over year.

Ideally, as you plan your year, you’d assign a race and prioritize it as your “A” race. Then, working backwards from your A race you’d schedule your training so you’re in peak conditioning for that race. That would take you through a Base, Build and Specialty plan. However, if you don’t have an A race, but rather a “race season” (meaning all races have the same priority), then you would structure your training in the same way. However, just pick a race in the mid to late race season as your “A” race and train to hold onto that peak fitness for the remainder of your races. As your races fall at different phases of your training, you simply adjust your training to add in a Taper before the race based on it’s importance to you. Less important races are considered “B” or “C” priority races. Then after the race, depending how much recovery you need, you simply pick up your training where you left off but being flexible enough with the workouts so you can manage your fatigue from these events.

It’s a common error of cyclist “new to structured training” for them to build fitness in the off season indoors on the trainer, then abandon all structured training when it’s warm and ride solely outside. These riders generally see a gradual decline in their fitness as they leave structure behind in favor of outdoor rides. At minimum it’s best to keep the TR weekday intervals indoors and leave weekend/endurance rides outdoors. This way you’re able to keep your fitness improving while you still get to enjoy riding outside.


Great post, @MI-XC. :+1:

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I would basically have 2 almost back to back recovery weeks. Is there a way to avoid this?

This is very interesting. Thanks for posting. As a MTB:er, XCM/XCO, last year I went out and did my HIT-laps on XC-courses. Near my home I have a track that gives me about 35-38 minutes in the red zone, Z4 HR.

I can’t imagine that being an issue instead of doing indoor intervals. I mean by training in the environment that you’re racing in later on you’d have to get sufficient adaptations. Or am I wrong? I’m not a seasoned rider, only been riding since 2017 and raced my first season last year so I’m sure that my workout plan could be off.

So to sum up what I did last year:

Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday/Sunday - HIT around 60 minutes full gas on the XC-track
Monday, Wednesday, Friday - commute to work low intensity

Yeah, this is not ideal and likely too much recovery. If feel you are recovered and did some easier rides (from SSB 1 LV Week 6) this week/weekend, you could do the following starting next week:

SSB2 LV Week 1
SSB2 LV Week 2
SSB1 LV Week 5
SSB1 LV Week 6 (recovery week)

SSB2 LV Week 3
SSB2 LV Week 4
SSB2 LV Week 5
SSB2 LV Week 6 (recovery week)

This way you’re not adding in an extra week to SSB2 which is already more demanding than SSB1, or having back to back recovery weeks.

It’s even more of an issue with MTB than it would be if you were training on the road, because trails have so many variables. Yes, doing hard efforts on the trail are a necessary part of preparation for racing for a multitude of reasons, but structured training is something completely different that you can’t replicate at your local XC trail.

Indoor vs Outdoor: Quality Sessions
[Below modified from TR:]:

Consider the quality of intervals done on a trainer with very specific wattage targets displayed before you, with instant feedback in the form of many metrics (power, HR, cadence, etc.) without the distraction (cognitive overload) of all of the things associated with outdoor trails, to include; varied traction, roots, rocks, turns, hills, descents, coasting and other riders. Also if on the road the hazards with cars, people, stoplights, ever-changing road surfaces, etc. How do you maintain power at your limits when you need to focus on so many other factors? How do you have precise work and recovery intervals when you can’t control the elevation changes (over unders, VO2 max repeats)? Is it even safe for you and your hypoxic brain to process so much when you’re pushing yourself to the limits repeatedly in an interval? What if you could eliminate all those factors/variables and just focus on producing power and increasing your fitness? You can… the trainer.

Additionally, structured training has specific goals during workouts that train separate energy systems that increase week over week to ensure adaptation and super compensation. How to you account for that on your XC trail?

Eventually your fitness will have to be transitioned to the outdoors where it will be applied during races, events and rides, but you’d be hard pressed to acknowledge that outdoor intervals are as productive as those done indoors particularly when it refers to trail riding.

So why not maintain your interval schedule indoors thus ensuring 2-3 high quality workouts each week? Many riders even swap a mid-week training race for an interval session and further reduce their indoor sessions to just 1-2 per week with a high level of training adaptation and improved fitness over the course of the competitive season.

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Okay. I think there has to be some type of middle ground here. I am actually keen on trying to keep up the indoor intervals as well but XCO/XCM-racing is so much more than just power. My outdoor training has led to both increased technical skill as well as being able to push hard on the same technical trails whilst keeping the pulse in threshold-zone. I’ll try to combine them both more though. I actually saw that I kept going with my standard intervals until July last year, racing between April-September/October. So I wasn’t all that off last year.

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I raced 10 XCO races and one MTB 100 in 2018 as a cat 2 (Sport) all while keeping indoor structured training and modifying my workouts and weeks accordingly. You can see them all here :wink::

It’s definitely a balancing act racing while continueing training and I learned a lot last year. I’ve structured my calendar much better for 2019 and my fitness is already way ahead of my 2018 peak.

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