"I've got this" - Coaching yourself and running your own cycling program

Have you ever gotten to a point where over a period of time, you have used TR, a coach or any other training platform, and have decided to break out on your own and create your own training sessions, mesocycles and annual training plan? TR is a fantastic platform and the value for money that it provides is sensational. I also think the crew do a fantastic job at educating it’s users etc. That said, I am curious to know if there has ever come a point where regardless of the value, you have built up a substantial body of knowledge and have developed the skills and knowledge that outweigh the cost/benefit ratio of using coaching, online coaching or online training programs.

Perhaps you have gotten to a point where you know your own body well enough, you have learnt a fair bit along the road, you have competed in various events and through trial and error know what works best for you, or like myself, you are lucky enough to gain exposure and knowledge in exercise science research.

I used TR to start off with and it was fantastic to get my body used to structured training and how things worked. It was actually a great learning tool to see how various systems are targeted with different builds, bases etc. After that, I tried structured training with a local coach for a while whilst I continued working and studying in exercise science. I enjoyed that and it was great to have a coach with local knowledge of the roads and climbs around here.

Then, after a while, and a few years lost in text books and journal articles (and some lucky experiences of being in the lab for exercise science and physiology experiments), I got myself to a point where I now know enough to create my own macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles. My little niche corner of the exercise science world is exactly that, a very small niche and in no way do I know every little thing about physiology and the human condition, however, I am confident with what I know and how to program etc.

I’ve now created my own library of sessions on Training Peaks under different folders - threshold, VO2, fasted Z2, block periodization, anaerobic, velo simulation, active recovery, strength endurance, sweet spot etc. Each folder has custom built sessions that target different energy systems depending upon which stage of the macrocycle I am in. I’ve been running my own program now for all of this year and my FTP has gone from 260w (3.46w/kg) at the started of the year, to 289w (3.91 w/kg) at the end of April, to 309w (4.31 w/kg) which I just tested at the end of May. I’m getting far better results running my own program than with any other method that I have tried.

Once again, I do not purport to know everything - far from it as exercise science, human physiology and programing is a multi-faceted beast - but I think knowing my own body coupled with smart programing has really assisted me with my own cycling performance.

Curious to know if anyone else has gotten to a point with their own training where they are like - I’ve got this.


I make my own plan too, for a variety of reasons. Its given me a ~50W increase in FTP over 18 months.

Partly, its down to knowing what works for me, although this probably evolves a bit over time. I have been able to try blocks of Zone 2, blocks of VO2 max and blocks of sweetspot, with testing before and afterwards to see how I respond to each block. This is invaluable; its all very well knowing that 8 out of 10 cats respond best to VO2, but in my world, N=1.

Partly its because I think there’s too much intensity in the TR plans. I can consistently do 2 or 3 hard workouts a week plus a long ride, but any more and I go downhill. I could make the hard sessions easier in order to to 4 or more per week, but I don’t believe that’s the right approach (certainly for me).

Partly its because my goal races are different to (I think?) the majority of folks. I do long TTs and audax; long events at tempo to sweetspot. Race specificity is sweetspot for me, so I have been experimenting a bit with reverse-periodisation.

Ultimately, the constituents of the plan are fine-tuning, and I think many (most?) folks are agreed that the biggest benefits come from consistent, hard training and sufficient rest and recovery to get the benefits. I’ve been successful primarily because I have been more consistent than ever before. I think whether folks are self-coached, have a 121 coach or follow a TR plan, the most critical factor is having a plan that allows long-term consistency.

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For me, half the fun is designing your own plans. I have spent countless hours reading and listening to different training philosophies and applying them. I’m sure it hasnt always yielded optimal results, but i believe the long term benefit is there and really consistency is all you need to improve so finding internal motivation is invaluable. I also totally understand why most people prefer to put little to no mental energy into plans and follow a plan or hire a coach.


After a few years on TR it doesn’t seem too hard to design your own plan: few hard days, few more easy days, progressive increase in weekly TSS with a step down every 4-5 weeks, and keep raising the TSS week by week after breaks. Adjust based on feel, shorten rest intervals between work sets on hard days or add intensity week over week. Obviously not totally as easy as it sounds but not overly difficult to experiment either


I believe this has nothing to do with the complexity of the training process but your predisposition to structure, following rules, perception of control and appeal to authority. The industry of course knows how to push the right buttons to create demand for their products and services. The trend of indoor training helps the vendors tremendously as their services are embedded in the training process automatically.

This is not too dissimilar to the issues around personal finance and managing your own money. The industry want’s you to believe that the process is as complex as surgery and providers have their own spin on how to achieve best results.


I have tried to create macrocycles for my own training. I think what I came up with was pretty good but I just always end up tweaking it and not trusting what I came up with to the point where I’m not sure why I have a plan at all. But I am much less likely to have the same self doubt if that exact same plan came from someone else. I’m just not sure how to bridge that gap and to just trust the plan that I have laid out instead of agonizing over it and tweaking it twice a day.

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I did try and coach myself before TrainerRoad
It was working and I was making gains. Only thing was changing my workouts on my computer for each week/ creating workouts started to become annoying.
I then said screw it and entered TrainerRoad. Now I find myself adapting my own training with their laid out plans, sometimes if I feel a workout is too much for me at the time.
I like how TrainerRoad has hundreds of workouts so it would be easier if I went that route again. Following TrainerRoad plans have been working for me with small adjustments and so far that’s where I’m at. It’s definitely fun creating your own meso and micro cycles and TrainerRoads workout library would definitely help to have if I went that route again.

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Interesting. I treat it as any other project, professional, academic, business. You do the homework, devise the plan, you execute and then measure results and tweak. Perhaps is an issue of discipline or the constant tweaking is servicing another purpose in your life.

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First two years of cycling I got to 280W FTP by focusing on the basics and listening to my body. Then for two years I tried structured training, and learned that self-coaching was better than trying to follow science based training plans. However I wanted to improve consistency, something that was difficult when I was self-coaching. So I hired a coach and after 9 months am still learning a lot. Going to stick with a coach for another year and see where I land. Will likely go back to self-coaching, although its nice being spoiled and getting objective feedback from a professional coach.

Planning by TSS is wildly overrated. Decent starting point absent anything else but not much more than that.

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planning by TSS works great (for me) in base when making tradeoffs between long endurance and sweet spot.

Yeah, as I’ve said elsewhere around here, during base with Z2 and SST, it’s useful. Outside of that when you’re training different energy systems or trying to equate training load during race prep, it’s less useful.

But he said all you have to do is progress weekly TSS and boom, you’re done, and that’s a gross understatement IMO, and likely a mistake.

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I did not say that was ALL someone had to do, but maybe I did make it sounds a bit too easy. More of what I was driving at is after a few years here it’s not hard to replicate a TR plan (without ripping off specific workouts of course) because of its rather repetitive nature. I’m sure AT will bring a lot more value to the table

But even TR tried to progress TSS through build when it wasn’t necessarily appropriate to do so. 500 TSS in sweet spot base might be doable but 500 TSS of short power build is a different animal, especially for an older athlete. TR’s old plans definitely gave the impression that TSS progression is all that matters. The new plans and progression levels seem to do a better job of laying out achievable and productive plans, IMO. The fact is, when you’re doing intensive anaerobic work or lots of VO2max, your overall TSS might go down quite a bit vs. what you were doing during a period of sweet spot or threshold work in a base period. That doesn’t make the training less effective, but it does make the direct comparison of TSS from one microcycle to the next virtually worthless. “Not all TSS is created equal.”

I’m not in the AT Beta, so can’t speak to that, but I do rip TRs workouts into my own plans quite a bit. A lot of their newer workouts scratch the itch for what I’m looking for, so I do pull them into my own plan. I’m also doing more of that lately so I can play with AT when it comes out, and we know there are issues with custom workouts.


Coach Tim Cusick’s full season masters plan peaks at 90 CTL in week 23 (week 25 if you include the two prep weeks). That plan has 16 weeks of base and 8 weeks of build. Looks a lot like FasCat off-the-shelf plans. And both are zone2 heavy approaches to training before racing.

FWIW. My personal opinion is that TSS is not wildly overrated, and in fact a useful tool for planning out a long “6 month base+build before you race” training approach.

Again, it’s useful if you’re doing 12 hours and a ton of Z2 and a more polarized build like TC generally plans It’s a lot less useful if you’re doing pyramidal training or training multiple energy systems, but once you know your limits and what’s productive you can work within those bounds. Athletes shouldn’t arbitrarily pick a CTL to aim for and map out TSS to get there, which is what a lot of self coached people do.

I think it’s wildly overrated not necessarily because of how quality coaches use it, but instead because we have people who want to monitor TSS from lawnmowing in their training plans. Seriously.


Well Cusick’s masters plan is pyramidal, as is FasCat and the CTS plans I’ve done. But I will concede those are 8-12 hour/week plans.

Cheating the fundamentals is what I’ve found to be wildly overrated. Two HIIT sessions and some fun outside rides delivered a lot of bang for the buck, on 4-6 hours/week.

We seem to both agree and disagree on things, its all good and I’ll just leave it at that.

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For sure. I don’t think I’ve cracked 7hrs a week in a couple of months… but working HARD and recovering with my limitations on time I’ve still managed to progress every metric I care about in the last eight weeks, including all time high FRC and FTPs, while largely ignoring TSS because of outside constraints.

As we’ve talked elsewhere, going MAX like TC and KM recommend is pretty important, and I think that’s something TR misses with their % FTP for everything. Then you have to recover from it.


Self coached for a couple of years before getiing a professional coach for the last year or so. I’d call both successful, but what I’ve managed to achieve with a coach has been undeniably better. I think in part that’s due to having a more objective outsider push me in areas I would usually shy away from- as much as knowing yourself can be helpful, I think it also acts as an unconscious bias towards things we think are likely to work or be relevant based off what we’ve done before, along with what we like/are good at. Having someone push you out of your comfort zone and tell you what you don’t want to hear is as much a mental as a physical thing and I do think a lot of people can benefit from it.

If I had to drop my coach for finanicial reasons I’d be pretty comfortable going solo, but for now it’s worth the money especially as it’s in person and significantly cheaper than most other coaching options I’ve seen. Some people think they need to spend $400 on an online coach and that blows my mind.

Yes I think we agree more than we disagree (even on the lawnmower TSS that I avoided commenting on). My fastest season was self-coached and a result of averaging 6.5 hours/week. This season I’m at 7.75 hours/week average. This season is an experiment in less hard work and more recovery, to invest that energy into strength training, and so far it seems plausible that just increasing the hard work and keeping or reducing hours will put me on track to exceed my previous best season. My coach is teaching me a lot.

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