Think of it this way: a training plan’s goal is to develop a particular balance of discipline-specific abilities within a pre-determined period of time (the training plan’s length), for a particular goal (success in an event or ride type). This means the progression of difficulty from week to week, the specific energy systems targeted within each workout, as well as the interspersal of rest weeks and easy days are all designed strategically to work together with that particular endpoint and goal in mind.
TrainNow is by design more open-ended. It uses its knowledge of your current fitness to suggest workout options that will be productive for your fitness overall, without being so hard that you’ll be likely to have trouble completing them. It’s perfect if you’re not working towards a goal, since it lets you choose what specific energy system or interval duration to focus on each day. But it’s not working with a specific goal-centered focus or designated timeframe like a training plan. As you complete TrainNow workouts, your fitness will improve and the workouts will gradually become more challenging to meet your growing abilities. But that day-to-day progression is not driven by any motivator other than the simple concept of presenting you with a productive training session.
As for your other question, our goal is for all workouts, structured and unstructured, indoors and out to be included in Adaptive Training’s analysis of your fitness by the time it’s publicly released to all athletes. There are some limitations to how this is working right now, which I discussed in my last post (along with how these current areas of improvement affect TrainNow).
We’ve covered TrainNow quite a few times in blog posts that might help round out your understanding, and I’ll link to them below. We’re also continuing work on further educational materials for both TrainNow and Adaptive Training. We totally realize they’re complicated features, and it’s challenging to present all the information about them to our athletes in a clear and easily accessible way, but we’re working on it!