Notes from a cold garage - reflections on structured training from a non-structured individual

That’s great thanks – and has opened up a whole new layer of TR that I didn’t know existed!

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I think it’s going to be challenging to assess the outcomes of any plan if you make so many changes. I totally get why you do make them, but you really need to stick to a plan (any plan, not just TR) for a few months to gauge its efficacy.

If you’re only adhering to 70% of the plan roughly that won’t tell you if structure is really working for you to meet your goals.

Could be that sweet spot base has too many structured workouts for your life and the polarized base plans would work better? 2 necessary workouts a week to hit and then you can do the other endurance workout outside and add more endurance outdoors as you like. That way you really only need to be beholden to those two workouts to increase your compliance.

Honestly the best plan is the one you can stick to short and long term.

I also just rode for about 15 years (had some breaks when my kids were really young) but doing structure for a year has definitely changed my fitness. I really only ride hard outside once in a while with a group and do my harder riding indoors. The method of not just going out and riding hard so you “feel” like you did something and having goals for each ride will make a difference. No matter the plan.

Good luck with your goals and give yourself time. I started last winter at 275 and only made it to 300 watts (at 75kg) with about 8 months of sticking to a plan religiously. That meant riding the trainer on mornings it was nice out and skipping rides with my friends who only hammer to do some 2 for 4 hours solo. I liked the structure of each ride having a “plan” and purpose. I also tested and confirmed via long form testing and working on TTE not just trusting ramp or AiFTP. Those will get you an idea of your FTP but in my opinion they need to be verified.

Good luck


Thanks very much – there’s a lot here that resonates with me. I am attracted to the somewhat monastic approach to training which eschews anything unproductive but am aware that it can be as poor for my mental health as it is good for fitness.

Likewise your note on adherence and volume chimes with how i’ve thought about training. It comes up in the podcast plenty too – that lower volume is better when you are not hitting workouts or are changing things too much. This is not a criticism of TR whatsoever but I think the low - mid - high badging really encourages more thought given to capacity/load handling more than freedoms and consistency. I’m going to monitor the next few weeks and likely see through this next block of MVSSB as I figure I can make some mistakes here (more than i’d be able to get away with in build phase at least). If i’m still regularly changing things, it’ll be on to LV.

Week 6: A recovery week with only endurance rides. Rode all but only half of Wednesday’s due to other commitments. Strange how it is often easier to hit the rides when they are fairly easy :slight_smile: despite knowing its been a low volume week, i’m taking some real enjoyment from doing the rides and seeing the yellow line of truth on the power targets. Satisfying.

I took the AI FTP detection at the end of this week – went up 4 to 281. It’s small and I still have a feeling I couldn’t manage some of the rides and speeds I was setting in summer but I was chuffed and buoyed on by it nonetheless.

Week 7: A strange week. Started with my first VO2 workout which was pretty hard. 30/30 seems to aggravate my knee a little – relatively sudden from low-high power isn’t ideal. Will have to watch for that and maybe make some workout adjustments. Really found the power hard to hit in erg mode (and not an issue of lack of power). Come Wednesday and that evening my son got ill and we spent a few days in hospital, on top of which I had a cold - training obviously on pause.

Week 8: Started again today (Tuesday). Felt I could have ridden yesterday but waited an extra day what with the illness, fatigue ands stress of last wee while. AT seems to have just ignored the week I missed when I registered time off as ‘ill’ – that’s fine by me, it looks appropriate still. Today was a VO2 with 1 minute on, 2 off x 15. Struggled to hit the first and couldn’t imagine seeing the workout through but did. Again, issues with erg/power no matter what technique I use. Might have to try non-erg. I wonder also if having my power come from a power meter and resistance from smart trainer might cause lags?

Coming round to the reduction in cognitive load that TR provides and still pleased to see i’ve gone this far. A little bother trying to fit strength 3x and 1x run a week but i’'m sure that’ll improve in time.

I’ve gotten off plans and just use Train Now or self select workouts. Feels way better and FTP keeps increasing.

A few weeks on and it feels like I am well and truly in the training plan. For the most part I feel i’ve been pretty good at sticking to the prescribed workouts. I’ve made some changes – removing 30s Vo2 efforts and replacing with 1 minute to better accommodate my knee, shorter workouts instead of no workout when life gets in the way. Second AI FTP today and up 3w which i’ll take. Still unsure how much to trust this. which I use regularly has me way down on FTP but it relies on a max effort and really even though I am in week 10 overall, I haven’t done anything that is a real max effort – I might put something in soon.

Hardest thing currently is still a nagging feeling i’m not where I was last year with my unstructured approach. I spent much of last winter on Fulgaz slogging up various climbs and relishing the challenge. Perhaps this was structured in a way – consistent FTP tests on 45 minute - 1 hour long climbs?. Certainly was able to hold power then that I currently can’t with Trainerroad but trying to remember that it’s a process and all.

Christmas, family and various commitments over the next fortnight will pose some challenges to the Calendar but by preparing in advance rather than adjusting on the day I feel i’ll get through it well.


Coming to the end of a recovery week and have been pleased with my adherence to the programme. A fairly significant development has been that two days before Christmas I fractured my foot (rolling ankle and thought it was a bad sprain but confirmed as fracture). I’m grateful that cycling on the turbo brings about no pain and so I am not making adjustments other than to avoid any standing efforts and really low-cadence work.

Looking ahead at the calendar brings fear and excitement. My AI FTP is currently 283 but the idea that I could ride at that wattage for more than about 10 minutes seems a stretch. I am trying to think more about the notion of ‘expressing one’s FTP’ and that gradually the plan will get me to actually being able to hold this power for longer.

Not being able to ride outside gives me motivation for the TR plan as well as a little nervousness about missing long zone 2 stuff (c. 1.5 hours on a turbo is about all my mind can take) as well as how long it might be before I can be confident out of the saddle uphill. Still, i’m grateful I can ride (and both doctor after X-ray and physio are on board with this provided no pain).

Well, I needn’t fear that the plan wasn’t hard enough that’s for sure. Really struggling on the Thursday ride which for me is a ‘productive’ following two days of ‘achievable’. The Wednesday session is endurance but still takes a little toll I think. Got very close to bailing on today’s ride – Picket Guard -1 (over/unders). Found myself under the gear a bunch of times and very hard to get back on top. Finding it hard to motivate myself only to feel pretty bad on the turbo – it is taking all my motivation to get through some of these. I am sure there may be some recency bias going on here and in some ways I feel strong but currently looking for reasons to bail on the Sunday ride in favour of getting out on the roads for a pootle.

I’ll try to get through this block as best I can and on to the next recovery week to consider things with a little critical distance.

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Did you try the Polarized plan at all?

No, i’m on sustained power build after SSBMV1 and SSBMV2. I can’t see a polarized plan anywhere but perhaps you mean make one myself?

It’s under experimental plans. You ight have to go into your account settings and turn on the early access stuff.

What did you mark the survey as? “All Out” and “Too Intense”

Over Unders are hard. Especially in build.

…and it’s on the web not the apps

OP, 35, 5’11 and 73kg. You’ve got a lean frame. Cycling more isnt going to make you happy when you look in the mirror. Lift weights more than once a week, my friend. That’s the way to a impressive physique. Increasing your ftp by 20-30-40w won’t make you physically look much different at all. You’ll just ride a bit faster. Keep up your work if that’s what you want, but just pointing out here the if you want a better physique and are already a lean person, more endurance exercise isn’t the optimal path to achieve it (and may simply be the wrong path)


Thanks, i’ll certainly explore that!

I answered as ‘very hard’. I didn’t answer as ‘all out’ only because as much as I have struggled, I have found a way through – I figure ‘all out’ would be used when I had to backpedal/skip interval. It didn’t ask me anything more but last week I did answer a workout as ‘very hard’ and then had the follow-up which I attributed to ‘training fatigue’, though it is. just as much ‘intensity’ I suppose.

I was surprised after this workout that my next wasn’t downgraded and instead it was only next week’s workout of the same energy system that was downgraded.

Sorry for numerous posts – have seen now it’s better to reply in one swift go!

As for lean frame and weights – I think you’re quite right in the weights front – something I have certainly neglected, particularly of late. it’s difficult to image adding this in will be sustainable but I guess if I fuel right, there’s no reason why not. I wouldn’t describe myself as lean – 17% body fat which occasionally gets down to 16 and doesn’t seem to have changed in a positive direction since starting TR. Strength training and adding some muscle will help here. Thanks very much.

Thanks for forum blogging your experience, I’ll share my two cents…

As a former Sufferlandrian myself I’ve found a break from the “must suffer to get fast” mindset refreshing. Don’t get me wrong being able to push through discomfort is an important skill for endurance athletes (may be on the thing that separates Pros from competitive armatures). I also enjoyed the humor of throwing chamois’s at your competitors and laser goats, but at the end of the day associating training as suffering seems a bit unhealthy. It feels a lot like the conversations recently on the podcast about disordered eating. It starts from a good place, but when left unchecked or viewed through a distorted lens it can take on a more sinister guise.

As a 37 year old day of two young kids with a demanding job I’ve found trainer road helpful because it allows me to focus on doing the training and enjoying it rather than stressing if I’m squeezing every last drop out of my training plan. This has helped me be more consistent and better balance family, friends, working, training, community responsibilities. The consistency means I’m getting faster each season and the better life balance means I feel less guilt and have a more understanding spouse when those longer 4-6 hour weekend rides happen in summer. In the past I’ve yoyo’d my training volume and this lead to spurts of great progress and then falling off a performance cliff as my body or life situation let me down rather than the slow climb up the mountain. I’m now much more focused on building healthy lifestyle habits than worrying about month over month FTP changes.

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So much of what you have said resonates but I think this in particular is so important. Currently (perhaps with external factors to TR itself [sleep, nutrition, work/life stress]) I am finding too much suffering in the MV plan. I am curious, what plan do you follow or are you using Train Now instead? I can see the latter may ultimately fit my life better and also be a good way to harness motivation when I have the desire to go hard, and not make me feel like i’m failing when I just can’t face grovelling on the turbo when I don’t.

Yesterday I deleted the planned Vo2 and went out in the cold for a very leisurely Z2, I think it was a good choice and hope it means I am more ready when tomorrow’s session comes around.

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A pretty low point

I felt great making it through the latest three week block (and seeing an ftp increase). For the first time since using TR I could actually see a world where I could hold my threshold numbers for half an hour or so.
Decided at the end of recovery week to do a bikepacking trip I’ve been keen on for some time (Glasgow to Inverness). I now find myself having crashed once (silly, slow and not too hurt) and getting an injury of left knee which replicates my old knee injury on the right. I had to ride with pain for 20 miles to get to accommodation and now if course it’s pretty bad. I’m bailing. So fed up with a body that can’t match what my muscles and mind want to do. I realize now I should have built up to it but finding this one a really tough pill to swallow. If I can rest and train in a few days I’ll consider myself lucky, if I can’t, not really sure where I go from here. Continually getting fitness only to mess things up.