I would definitely do some of this whether or not you choose to use TR. That way you may be able to identify what TR is doing to make you faster and then adjust for specifically what you may want or need from your training. It will help you diagnose problems with your training so that you can potentially fix it on your own instead of getting frustrated and saying “TR doesn’t work for me” and giving up.
I think if the assumption is that you are stuck inside then the suggestion to forgo structure changes a bit but I think the underlying advice still holds. The idea being that if you just started cycling then, for one, you will get better just by riding more, and second, you may not be 100% sure that you love it enough to commit to structure.
Committing to a plan has some element of sacrificing immediate fun for future improvement. So if you aren’t sure that you enjoy cycling much then that sacrifice may just kill it for you. Similar to how junior athletes may just go wayyy to hard and then crash and burn and never go back to their sport as an adult. (I spent 20+ hours a week swimming in high school and have very little desire to jump in a pool again).
I think it has less to do with elitism as much as they’ve seen other people get burned out on too much structure too early and lose the forest through the trees. So it’s less about “don’t jump into structure as a beginner” than it is “don’t jump into structure until you know what you are getting yourself into”. But I agree with you that not all beginners are the same and some may gravitate toward structure faster than others and that may be what is motivating to some while others just want to ride their bikes more.
That’s valid! My experience (which is obviously not universal) was sort of the opposite: I literally couldn’t ride around my area (like to go to the post office) without walking my bike up the hills. Riding outside was soul-crushing, I hated it, and I didn’t start enjoying it until structure made me fit enough to stay on the bike the whole time.
Sometimes! For me, the plan itself is fun, training is fun, and it would have been easy to drop the “commitment” if it hadn’t been.
Yeah I’ve absolutely heard this too, an “I’ve seen this before and don’t want it to happen to you” warning.
Listen to what @mwglow15just said…he is spot on.
If you are new to the sport, you need to build an aerobic base. That means miles and time in the saddle. Yes, structure will help foster bigger, early initial gains but you are at a point where any training (structured or unstructured) will net big gains.
Enjoy what you are doing now…you’ll never see these kinds of gains so quickly again!! So ride your bike however you wish as long as you are enjoying it and not burning out. Too many people get into it, train lie madmen and get tired of it.
TR provides structure in two ways, (a) intervals, and (b) scheduling.
Intervals obviously work, but you don’t have to follow them to a T to see sizable gains, especially early on.
But the scheduling part is huge. TR’s calendar is a virtual accountability partner. It’s really easy to fall off the wagon when the weather gets bad, and often times without a calendar app, you lose track of time off the bike very quickly. 3 days becomes 3 weeks becomes 3 months and suddenly you’re back to square one.
If you’re new to anything, doing it more will always help you improve at it. Structure vs non-structured will vary your immediate gains but also consider that there’s an enjoyment factor to it as well. It’s easy to have loads of enthusiasm about intervals right away only to dive in too hard and burn out. That said, intervals, in varying capacities, are also what will primarily make you faster/fitter down the road when you’ve built some aerobic base.
Like most things, cycling is very unique to the individual. What works best for me is going to be at least a little different than what works best for you and that’s perfectly okay. Yes, we all want to be world tour pros with 7 W/kg FTPs and such but at the end of the day, everyone in this forum is here to enjoy riding bikes for whatever underlying reason (mental, weight loss, fitness, etc).
So trying TR is probably a great first step but don’t feel you need to commit to a plan, do it every day, etc. Find what works for you and even that will surely change over time.
The answer is probably “both”. TR or any good training plan will make you fitter, which makes it possible to ride your bike faster. However, there is more to cycling than just fitness, and I think especially as a beginner, it is helpful to spend as much time as possible riding your bike outdoors. There is so much to learn about riding a bike on different surfaces, different terrain, in different weather. Learn how to corner, how to climb short climbs, how to climb long climbs, how to ride in a group, how to fix your bike by the roadside…none of which you can do by sitting on the turbo.
Haha, you are not alone! I tried zwift for a couple of weeks too, but also found it incredibly boring! I’d much rather just stare at the blue line in TR!
I haven’t read all the responses but here is what strikes me.
I often hear about people who are “training to train” or feel like they need to get into better shape before starting a “real” training plan out of fear that it will be too much.
The truth of the matter is that after a few weeks of getting comfortable on a bike, EVERYONE can benefit from structured training, since the workouts are scaled to your current ability level.
You may have a few things that could challenge you more than others, but all that shows us is the importance of hitting those energy systems.
What I often suggest to beginners is to get onto a low volume plan, and start with a little bit of structure. Generally this means starting off with sweet spot base, since traditional base only really works with high volume, or if you are literally injured.
This will give you the flexibility to still spent time doing whatever you find is fun, but starts to give you the type of structure that will be a benefit to your riding now.
Once you have gotten comfortable with structure, you may feel you want to move up to a mid volume plan depending on time constraints etc.
Everyone can benefit from structure, even those who consider themselves new riders, in fact, these people tend to benefit MORE from structured training than those who have already built their fitness.