I just started up a membership with TR although I have used this forum numerous times.
I am coming from a background of mostly “self coached” from reading books on training and Fast Talk podcasts.
I have basically simplified my training into the FT three types of rides. I do LSD rides, two interval rides (one being a weekly local race from May-September), and then a recovery ride.
I am a teacher and coach so until about April I have 1.5hrs to workout in the early morning per day and weekends.
Once summer hits I have a very loving wife who pretty much lets me ride. I would say I average 4-5hrs per day in the summer unless I am doing a specific workout or shorter MTB ride.
Until I blew out my shoulder in Sept. my goal was to get 40 centuries in this year as I had about 15 last year.
I set up a race/training calendar and looking at it it seems to be much different than what I am used to. 3x intervals per week and no longer rides. Also I was putting in TSS scores of about 500-1000 last year and probably averaging 700-800 per week. This plan has me looking at about 300 per week, which I can’t see improving my fitness that much.
So my question is am I going to see a benefit from TR and will it fit my riding style? Is it going to adapt and increase dramatically? If I change the amount of time and experience will that help?
Lastly, I felt I was pretty successful last year in my racing, but am always open to trying something new. So hence why I am here, but just don’t want to go backwards.
This is a pretty nuanced question which is probably why you haven’t gotten a lot of bites. Not sure I can answer whether it’s right for you, but you did trigger a number of thoughts at least.
TR plans generally tend to tailored for more time crunched athletes, favoring intensity over LSD
You can substitute the shorter weekend sweet spot ride for a longer endurance ride and on a recent Podcast @Nate_Pearson said this is something they would like to automate in the future. For now, @mcneese.chad describes it exactly on this thread.
You’re free to extend your rides by adding more volume either before or after the structure, but it’s on you then to monitor your total TSS and ensure you aren’t digging yourself into a hole.
Many people also use a low or mid volume plan for their key quality workouts in the week and add rides on top, e.g. weekday race, group ride, desired LSD ride, etc. Obviously the same disclaimer applies about using self-coaching judgement to manage your TSS.
You can change the volume of each block in your plan such that you could do low or mid volume during the school year and high volume in the summer. Also in a recent podcast it was discussed that they are planning to allow you to do that kind of customization within any given week, e.g. short weekday rides but longer weekend ones.
Lastly, there are polarized plans available that may me closer to what you are comfortable with, but you need to enable them under your Account via the Early Access menu
IMO it’s best to think of the TR plans as a tool within your toolbox as a self-coached athlete, not a fully customized plan that you should follow to the T. I’m sure the team hopes to one day get to a level of sophistication where a truly customized plan can be spit out to address everyone’s unique needs, but until that point there are always going to be outliers.
Thank you for the great reply and helpful information about the system.
I understood that TR was based around sweet spot, but didn’t realize that it was so heavily about a time crunched style of training, but that makes sense.
I own The Time Crunched Cyclist and what is interesting is even Carmichael says you cannot use a TCC style of training repeatedly with out breaks in between blocks of training, but at a quick glance of the plan TR spit out for me doesn’t seem to have those type of blocks and breaks built in. Right now it has 33 weeks of what looks to be TCC style workouts.
It has me doing threshold and VO2 intervals in the first week which doesn’t seem right and I have to imagine I would burn out doing these types of workouts week in and week out?
I will check out the polarized plans you speak of and see what that looks like.
Also how do I see the whole plan I have created? Once I click out of that view I can’t find a way to get back to the plan’s bar graph view?
If I went by feel of exertion I would have quite at the point how I feel myself somewhere mid 2nd or 3rd to last interval during TR threshold or VO2max workouts but TR tells me to continue so I continue and I actually make it through when I thought I couldn’t…I think unless you have tried being coached by an app or real coach you probably have something to gain from TR
I adapted CTS plans - reducing intervals when needed - during my first two years and got really fast. On TR I tried doing the plans as-is, burned out quickly, and lost fitness Adaptive Training looks like an improvement but the basic outline of the plans has too many days of intensity (unless you pick low volume, and make adjustments like adding almost 2x the volume in endurance, and then it no longer resembles a TR plan and I’m better off using another coaching companies plan designed for masters and 8 hours/week).
I think that is a tremendously important statement. If one reads the many threads about people not being able to complete plans / blowing up / getting sick / etc., a trend that popped out to me is that most of those people view TR as ‘the coach’ and do what ‘the coach’ tells them.
OP, you have riding goals and are a human being and TR doesn’t know everything about you. Customize the TR plan to work for your lifestyle and goals. If you want to ride more than the plan says, go for it. If you have trouble with more than 2 days of intensity, remove the third. You are still self-coached so you need to make TR work for you, not the other way around.
I haven’t read Carmichael’s TCC book and can’t comment on equivalency. There hundreds of different TR workouts and the different build/base/specialty plans have different compositions in accordance to periodization. There are certain blocks that certainly would not be advisable to repeat for long periods of time, but I’ve never had Plan Builder suggest that to me.
What plan did you select? Did you select your own or have Plan Builder create one for you based on discipline and event goals? I’ve never been served a VO2 max workout earlier than 8 weeks into a base plan, and at that sparingly. I get them consistently in the specialty phase of my XC plans, but that is much later and only for an intentionally finite period of time in race season.
There’s probably easier a way to do this, but I know for sure that you can go to the Calendar view and on the day your training plan started there is a label with the custom name you gave your plan. If you click that it will show you an overview of your custom plan (assuming you created one) and allow you to go the custom plan overview to make adjustments to any of your blocks. In general the Plan Builder FAQ may be helpful.
I‘ll caveat everything with the statement I started with, I’m not sure if TR is right for you and I’m not an employee so I have no vested interest in pushing you to continue with it. Your summer training volume is probably higher than 98% of amateur riders if not higher so you are well outside the bell curve that TR is most optimized for. If you are happy with your current training approach then perhaps not much motivation to change it. If you do want to give it a shot, it sounds like in your case you may be best served for doing TR plans for the school year when you are indeed time constrained, then go with your own LSD approach for the summer.
Speaking only for myself with a busy year round job and 2 small kids the LSD vs intensity debate is academic. There is no scenario where I will have time for LSD for probably another 1.5 decades. If I did have that opportunity I’d be interested in trying it for comparison.
My recommendation for athletes with more time/experience is generally to use a “low volume” option to get 2-3 core interval sessions per week. TR will take care of interval progression and adaptations, which is great. From there, I like to add in as much endurance volume as I have time/can handle.
In other words, I’ll usually have intervals Tue/Th, Wed will be 2-3hrs Z2, and Sat/Sun will be longer Z2 rides or races. Something along those lines! I use TR as the basic outline for my plan, then just add on volume.
I’m in a similar boat, being more time crunched during the school year and wide open over summer, however, I use TR a few times a week during the winter for the great workouts and to complement cross country ski training.
After a few weeks off to grow the training fire back up, I’ll start doing a low volume plan in April to prep my body to really do what you described come June. I like to mtb with friends, go out on long gravel rides and hammer some group rides. I feel the base a low volume plan gives me allows me to get my intervals in during the morning, and then I can “socially” ride in the afternoons and weekends.
Prior to beginning, continue as normal with your riding but end the week on a Saturday. Don’t do any stretch or breakthrough rides this week.
Rest Sunday and Monday (z1 if anything)
Schedule the Low Volume Sweet Spot Base plan
Take the ramp test. Don’t forget that it looks at your last minute, not your last complete minute of a particular power step. Meaning even if you can only squeeze out 15 more seconds when the power ramps, go ahead and do it. It helps.
Accept your result even if you think it’s wrong
Do the workout on Thu. Ideally, you should question if you’re going to finish but be able to finish.
Do the workout on Sat. This is your first O/U workout. Same goal - you should wonder but be able to finish.
Now it’s time to move to the evaluation phase. Not just is TR right for you. Is this particular plan and FTP right for you?
After finishing week 1, was it hard but doable?
Was the intensity right for you? Do you think you should tweak your FTP? Do you think you should just let AT make adjustments to your plan by picking harder or easier workouts at the same FTP?
Do you want more volume? Do you want to get there by changing to MV or HV or maybe just do some unstructured rides on Wed and/or Sun?
Make any of these adjustments that you think are necessary. The goal is to be very productive 3 days a week. Anything beyond that is gravy. If you can do more, great. But don’t add more at the expense of the quality of these 3 days. If it’s unbearably hard, AT will help. If it’s too easy, AT will help. Odds are, if you truly try your best on your ramp test (not coming in worn out, having your room cool enough, and giving it everything you can) you will find that your workouts are going to be challenging but achievable.
Once week 1 is in the bag, try again week 2. Each workout will be harder but ideally just achievable.
Within 2 weeks you’ll have a sense if this is something that will push you but also show gains. eg, did you struggle with your 4.5PL ride week 1 and are you now completing your 4.7PL in week 2?
You will have signs that will indicate that you’re getting better. Then decide if you want to continue.
Get Faster with TrainerRoad
Sign up and download the app to start training. Available on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices.
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast
This is the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. Listen to the latest episode and more.
We Are Here to Help!
Browse hundreds of articles in our Support Center or contact our world-class support team to get back on track.