New to TR...how hard should I go in the workouts?

Hello everyone! I’m 2 weeks into my Trainer Road journey. I just finished week 2 of Sweet Spot Base 1 Mid Volume in my Adaptive Training Plan. My plan calls for one easy day per week (Wednesdays), three moderate days per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays), and one difficult day per week (Saturday).

How hard should I be going on the “moderate” and “difficult” days?

a) Do the workout as prescribed (relax, tough guy, they’re going to get harder!)
b) Start the workout as planned, but increase the intensity in the workout so that’s it’s pretty hard on moderate days, and really hard on difficult days
c) Choose an alternate workout:
-the same named workout, but harder version (ex. +2 instead of +1)
-a different workout with with more TSS and/or IF
d) something else

I do report “easy”, “medium”, “hard”, “very hard”, etc. after the workouts…but many of the workouts as prescribed seem a bit more achievable than I thought they would. Maybe I just wussed out on my ramp test and my FTP is estimated a bit too low…and I need to be tougher on my next ramp test to get a truer FTP?

Is the idea to have enough in the tank on the difficult days to have breakthrough type performance (by going “easier” on the non-difficult days)? Other than on easy/recovery days, I’m used to trying to go pretty much as hard as I can, every time. Good idea? Bad idea?

One more question…I started on Zwift about a year ago and enjoy Zwift racing. When I race in Zwift, or have IRL outside rides…when I enter them into my calendar (time and TSS), does Adaptive Training recognize them and adapt accordingly?

Please forgive me if these questions have been asked ad naseum, but I’ve searched a bit through the forums and haven’t exactly found answers yet.

Thanks!

Just keep rating all your workouts and accept any adaptations the app proposes (make sure adaptive training is turned on in your account settings). Whether your ramp test was accurate or not, things will have ‘adapted’ to meet you where you are by the end of this first training block. This chart can be a great help to make sure you’re rating things roughly as the system intends. AI FTP detection will re-calibrate you in a few weeks too, so you’ll have a better sense of what your zones really are.

You can link TrainerRoad with your Strava account and it will automatically import the data from all the rides you upload there. If your outside rides don’t have power data then there’s another setting in your TR account where you can tell the system to automatically estimate the TSS from these rides (I can’t remember if it requires HR data to do this or not). This is the most efficient way to get your outside and Zwift rides into the TR system, and if you’re not already on Strava it would be worth making a free account just for this (if you don’t wish to participate in the social network aspect then just lock all your privacy settings down so everything is visible to ‘only you’).

The AI does use the data from your outside rides but, unless they’re associated with a TR outside workout, they don’t currently affect your progression levels and are unlikely to make any significant adaptations to your training plan (it definitely won’t swap your VO2 intervals for a recovery day if you go out on a group ride smashfest the day before, if that’s what you’re thinking).

Hope that helps!

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I would say stick with option A and TRUST THE SYSTEM! If you are finding that you are answering the surveys for WO’s classified as productive or above as “easy”, it is possible that your FTP is set lower than it should be (I’m a lousy tester myself and about 60% of the time am kicking myself for not pushing just a little longer).

Being honest with the system with those surveys will kick the PL’s up higher sooner and serve you much harder WO’s… it did for me. Then once AI FTP kicks in and provides you a NEW FTP estimate (if you choose to accept it), it will likely be quite a bit higher (mine jumped about 25 watts if memory serves), then those PL 2’s and 3’s WILL start feeling MUCH harder. Outside of endurance sessions these days, i rarely call ANY session EASY anymore!

In general, I agree with the advice you’ve been given, but if it’s WAY off, I personally speed the process up a bit by choosing harder alternates. If you’re doing a Threshold or VO2 workout and marking it Easy, rather than waiting a few weeks for the AI to figure it out, I would go choose a Stretch or Breakthrough alternate that will get you to where they feel like Threshold/VO2 should feel.

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Agreed. Do be careful though if you’re new to structured training. My first time doing this my body wasn’t quite prepared for the big jump in accumulated fatigue that came from suddenly jacking up the difficulty of all my weekly workouts at once. I could do the harder ones individually, but burnt out after a few weeks because of the increased overall training load - and that was my third year of structured training, so it wasn’t exactly new to me.

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For me, assuming I’m not coming off the back of time off or illness, threshold intervals and above should always be in the hard to very hard cat. All out and I’ll want them to be backed off, moderate and I’ll want them to be picked up.

This is a sure prescription for overtraining in the long run. Training is mainly about fatigue management and if you keep piling one hard workout upon the next you will soon see a decline in performance.

Follow the plan and answer the survey honestly.

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Bad idea , if you want to improve and not plateau pretty quickly.

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Thank you all for your replies!

@alexfthenakis , thanks for that chart about how the intensity felt. That was helpful to have a few additional descriptors. And thanks for the Strava recommendation. For some reason, I’ve never bothered to get on Strava, but to have it help log all outside rides, Zwfit rides, and TR rides seems like a good enough reason to sign up.

@Will_Peters , thanks for voting! Trusting the system and the process seems to be the way to go. In a few weeks I’ll come back on looking for advice about what to do because the workouts are too hard! :wink:

@Pbase , thanks for the advice. That’s kind of what I did for the first week or two with a few of the workouts, and it already seems to be calibrating better to where I’m at.

@AussieRider , thanks for weighing in…that seems to be very reasonable.

@TomasIvarsson and @PhilW , part of the reason I came to TR is for the adaptive, structured training that I wasn’t getting by just regularly choosing Zwift races and hammering it. It felt like I was plateauing a bit, or perhaps even declining a bit, so I’m excited to see where this goes.

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If you are new to structured training, start by following the suggestion. Some workouts should feel easy, others should feel hard. For example, a VO2max workout that is marked as Productive should feel quite hard. Likewise, a Threshold workout should probably not feel easy.

Try to listen to your body during workouts and find out why a workout is hard: sometimes it is your mind that wants to give up way before your body. Other times, you are able to fight through, but your muscles just won‘t make enough power. Structured training aims to make both, your mind and your body stronger.

Importantly, with structured training there is short-term and long-term fatigue. Long-term fatigue creeps up on you, and you may barely notice it. But getting rid of it also takes a long time. So don‘t try to smash it every single workout. Consistency is king.

Just to add, I have done what you are suggesting above and have the scar tissue to prove it. E. g. when Adaptive Training was new, I‘d constantly override it, just to get closer to the edge of my abilities. Then I let AT do its thing and learnt when and how I should override and when I shouldn‘t.