New to TR - questions regarding setting up the training plan etc

Hey there, I’ve been a self-trained athlete for ages now and would like to try something new in the new future, so I thought I’d give TR a shot.

First some background:

In the past 20-odd years, I’ve done cross country marathon racing, then triathlons, then some cross country marathon racing again and now I’m trying to do one bigger gran-fondo or cycling holiday involving lots of climbing or set myself another challenge each year. For 2020, I’d planned to ride half the distance of each stage of the Tour de France on the day of the race and watch the race afterwards. As I had already taken the time off work for this when the pandemic struck, I will go ahead with the first part of the plan anyway. My TR adventure would thus start in August, I guess.

I’m 6ft7" and 192lb, my FTP was 323W three weeks ago - with TR, I hope to raise my FTP to 4W/kg, ie 348W, but I guess this is going to be difficult if I don’t commit fully and exclusively to the plan (see below).

Now the questions:

  1. I do a 30 minute ride before breakfast every day. The ride is either in Z1 or Z2 based on how I feel, what I’ve done the day before or plan to do later that day. I don’t know if there is much of a physical benefit to this, but I feel better for it mentally - so I don’t intend to drop these rides. Should I simply subtract them from my current weekly training-volume when setting up the TR plan?

  2. I only have a power-meter on my road bike, but I do a lot (most probably) of my outdoor riding on a gravel bike and some occasional mountain biking. I know that I can do TR workouts outdoors, but how should I go about integrating the rides on the bikes that don’t have a PM into my plan? Longer intervals I can do by heart rate, which has always been very consistent with power zones for me, but can I log them properly? I think I read that they would not be taken into account for TSS calculation.

  3. Closely linked to 2), should I choose a lower volume TR programme if I know beforehand, that I will do some additional rides outdoors? Again, I know this is probably not ideal in terms of training gains, but they would be valuable mentally as well as socially. It would be no problem to keep those outdoor rides in Z1 and Z2 for most of the time.

  4. To choose the right TR programme, strength training needs to be subtracted from my present weekly training volume as well, right?

In consequence, if my present weekly training volume is about 11 hrs, should I go for a 4.5hrs TR plan (11hrs- 3.5hrs morning rides - 1hr strength training - 2hrs unstructured outdoor riding)?

Thanks for your input!

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A summary short answer: with your training experience and history, I’d go for a mid-volume TR plan, and replace workouts with your other outdoor rides if you think they match well, or just add the short z1/z2 rides.

  • your short rides in the morning I would just do in addition to the plan
  • in the mid-volume plan, one workout of the 5 is an endurance ride - i’d replace that with one of your outdoor endurance rides
  • with your experience, I’d also replace workouts when you think your outdoor ride was somewhat similar - eg if you did a lot of climbing at threshold, you could replace a threshold session
  • you can do TR workouts outdoors, even without a PM. If you load them to your garmin, it’ll give you RPE targets, but you can also do them by HR if you know what to aim for.
  • TSS for rides without power - TR has a way to estimate by RPE, or what I do is copy the HR tss estimate from TP or intervals.icu and enter that

You could also pick a low volume plan with just 3 workouts a week, and add all your outdoor workouts. I probably wouldn’t pick the high-volume plan, because I think you’ll end up replacing a lot of workouts with outdoor rides, and using the mid volume plan gives you a bit more flexibility

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Thanks splash!

This sounds more or less what I guessed would be a good idea. As for climbing at threshold, I moved to a completely flat area three years ago for work. The next hills are 40 min by road bike and 45 min by gravel bike from my place. The inclines are mostly short and steepish, so the climbs are more suitable for VO2 efforts if you want to use them for training - I think they are just a bit short for threshold intervals. Actually, one reason for me to do indoor training is that there are no proper climbs around here and resistance training works better on the turbo than outdoors on a flat road for me. If I want to go mountain biking, it unfortunately involves some driving :frowning: But that doesn’t change anything in terms of replacing similar workouts with outdoor rides of course.

A couple of weeks into the programme, I thought I might share my thoughts in case someone finds this thread in the future.

I started out with the intermediate volume sweet spot base plan and quickly figured out that it isn’t for me. I bet it is ultra-efficient but with an interval training scheduled for Saturdays, it was too restricted to me in terms of social riding and just riding outdoors listening to my body. In came the low volume plan. I continued to do an easy Z2 ride on Wednesdays and did either two longer or one longer and one slightly more intensive ride at the weekend. This works much better for me as missing a planned workout for a ride with friends felt as bad as missing a ride with friends for a solitary ride indoors.

This worked very well for me so far. The initial ramp test suggested an increase in FTP from 325 to 342W. Now, this probably was due to a different testing protocol (ramp test vs 30’ time trial with 95% of the last 20’ determining FTP) but all the same, I was sceptical if I really could sustain 342W for an hour. As the weather was pretty poor, I decided to do a virtual ride up a long climb one Saturday and averaged 335W over 50’ with a normalised power of 342W - spot on I dare say. More importantly, all workouts were very hard but doable. I only quit early once and that was after being stung by a wasp the day before and a night of poor sleep. Yesterday, I did the second ramp test before the onset of the build phase: 350W. This means that I have already achieved my 4W/kg goal and am now curious what I can do in October when I want to ride a 157km trail on my mountain bike.

As for strength training, I have cancelled my gym membership and now do a 25’ workout at home involving three exercises for legs, chest, back and shoulders each + 5 additional core exercises. The only equipment I use are a suspension trainer and an elastic training band. The workout is repeated two or three times a week, depending on what I can fit in. I do not do any breaks in between exercises (but rotate the targeted muscle groups between exercises) and the training actually feels more effective than an hour in the gym.

I am super happy with the new training (although I am a bit afraid of the new intensities after the latest test :flushed: ) and would really recommend this to anyone who is looking to do some structured interval training.

PS I just checked and I averaged about 470TSS including my additional rides during the past four weeks.

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