My Journey: One year with TrainerRoad

Today marks my one year anniversary with TrainerRoad. I figured I use the opportunity and share my journey with you. As I don’t want to make this a long read I will let the chart do most of the talking.

Before we come to that some background information:
(1) Male, 31 years old, 66 kg, 177cm tall (145 lbs and 5’8)
(2) Running and swimming background
(3) Complete novice on the bike (bought it and my Neo summer 2018)
(4) No race goals before 2023
(5) Management job with a one hour commute and frequent business trips

I started with little Zwift experience in my legs on 186 watts and 72 kilograms. My FTP is now at 270 watts and my weight at 66 kg, which places me right at 4.1 watts per kilogram.

The red bars indicate vacations. The blue bars indicate periods where I deviated from the plan (e.g. doing less or more).

Not shown in the chart is TSS from 2019 which is to be attributed to running and kayaking. I used to track that via the Apple Activity app. I would assume on average around 150ish TSS or so. To get a better understanding of my training I track my running now also via TrainerRoad.

My obviously highly anecdotal and personal key findings are:
(1) Consistency is key.
(2) Don’t be off the bike for more than a week.
(3) You can always do more (at least almost always).
(4) Don’t expect to improve when on pain killers (as seen in SSBHV1).
(5) Endurance and tempo are doable when having a cold. Intensity not so much.
(6) Running can mess up your legs quite significantly.
(7) Be patient, you might just be a workout away from a bump.
(8) FTP testing is not necessary. Reference workouts do the trick just fine.
(9) I need to do Vo2max/anaerobic session once per week.
(10) You don’t need to do hours of endurance work to generate a broad base. 2-3% HR decoupling for 2-3 hours of sweet spot work is achievable with the sweet spot approach.
(11) Have something in your belly when doing intensity. Though make sure it had some time to settle.
(12) I don’t need to fuel on the bike for 2-3 hour workouts.
(13) Caffeine is super helpful.
(14) Magnesium helps with recovery.
(15) Pomegranate extract doesn’t do much for me.

Guess that’s it. Oh I almost forgot. Thanks @Nate_Pearson @chad for a fantastic product. It certainly made me a faster cyclist.

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Congrats on the impressive improvements! From what I can see you have indeed been able to train really consistently. Surprised to see you have already been able to handle 600+ TSS on your big weeks in your first year on the bike!

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Way to go!! :clap::clap::clap:

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Good going - oh to be 31 again …think that is where the statement about handling 600+TSS in your first year is grounded ….now when you’re 20 years older…

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For #8 you say “no ftp tests”. So no ramps? How’d you adjust your ftp to ensure you were progressing and hitting the right zones?

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I base it around perceived effort. Mostly for threshold workouts. If I cannot do workouts like Mary Austin or Lamarck then my FTP is too high. Vice versa too low if they get easy.
In addition to perceived exhaustion I look at my heart rate data. For sweet spot work I should be stable below 150ish bpm. For threshold below 160ish bpm.
Those two factors give me a good indicator on where I currently am performance wise. Certainly more accurate than any test. Mostly because I tend to get in my head while testing.

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Awesome, love the approach!

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Great work! Consistency is king!

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Thanks for the inspiration. If you had to guess, except for your off weeks, how many hours were you riding per week?

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Guess at the very beginning around 6 hours per week. It eventually ramped up to now 8ish weekly riding hours. Guess that’s the most I do. There are other disciplines to cover too.

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I agree with @Triathlete and don’t test or see the need either. Doing threshold or over under workouts using ergo mode on an accurate and repeatable trainer like the Tacx Neo informs me where I am. If it’s regularly possible to use the + button then it’s time to add a percent or two.

Interestingly I agree with all of his other observations too - other than pomegranate and magnesium as I’ve not looked to see.

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Love the results and the analysis - well done.

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Good point. The Neo makes it super easy. Best money I have spend for training besides my TrainerRoad subscription.

Thanks for the great post. Keep it up. I am a user since 2017, but this will be my first time committing 100% to the TR Tri plans. I used to follow a coach for running and swimming, and combine them with TR sustained power build plans, and then the TR bike portion of the Tri specialty phases; But since workout builder came out, I decided to fully commit to the TR Tri plans, starting mid january 2020. So far, I find the running sessions to be more coordinated with the bike sessions, therefore less taxing on my body. After reading your post, I will definitely take into account your experiences, specially the consistency part.

Thanks

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This is the most compliant training cycle I have seen on the forum, congrats! Used your data in slightly simplified form (31y old, 66kg, starting FTP 186, 6 MV plans, average 8 weeks per plan) and put it in the FTP prediction model. Not counting the last unfinished plan that leads to ~48 weeks of training. The model predicted a final FTP of 262W and 4.0 W/kg, compared to 265W and 4.0W/kg you realized at the end of January. So in terms of realized improvement per plan you are exactly representing the average TR user (for MV, age, weight), but in terms of compliance you are probably a far (positive) outlier!

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Thanks for the effort. Already had a feeling my gains are not extraordinary. :wink:

Per plan I would agree, but you outperformed the vast majority of us on an annual basis!

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Love to see this. Way to go. Really enjoyed reading as I and my fiancé are on a one year trajectory I only hope we see these results as well. Inspired.

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Why no race plans until 2023? Do you want to race now?

Congrats mate, super progress and insight! I’ll probably nick a few of your pointers and incorporate them to my current season. Kind of curious as to what my first year with TR will bring.

I see one fascinating thing (obviously it will be slightly different for everyone due to differences in build, physiology etc.), that being, that you managed to get a monstrous 45% increase in power during the span of a year all essentially by doing sweet spot and a sustained efforts.

One begs the question then, is SSB all you really need to get the best progress?