Outdoor Workout Pro Tips?

I believe Outdoor workouts are the next level of training for me. I want to add the scenery, improved airflow, and possibly off-road dirt component of outdoor training to the mix. Plus, the potential of combining a workout on a nice scenic ride sounds amazing.

But I tried this and it was darn difficult. I was on a fireroad, which I previously thought was constant grade. Turns out it undulates a lot. I found myself shifting like crazy, never really in the right gear (blame my 1x drivetrain). I also found myself almost crashing because trying to do 300W downhill got me going too fast. On top of this, my Wahoo was displaying 3s power, cadence, HR, and workout target which didn’t help me when trying to hit my power because the lag in the power measurement made me over and undershoot.

Here are my learnings:
(1) A steady grade with no flats or descents, preferably steeper, is better
(2) My Wahoo data fields need some help

What are yours?

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I’m really digging outdoor workouts. The hard part is picking the right location for the workload. First, don’t get wrapped up on hitting the target every second. My favorite route has a few low spots that I spin high cadence but don’t hit the power target for 5 or so seconds until I start to climb again. I run 10 second power so I’m not chasing the numbers. I think a high percentage of compliance in each work interval is better than killing yourself to be perfect. The other thing is recovery interval. I try to stay in the time set but I’m ok if I have to extend it a bit to get to the best starting location for the interval.

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I love riding outdoors: mtb, road & tribike.
You need 10sec averaging, the right road that kinda matches the workout.
Also for safety reasons, I cannot do the very hard workout outdoors.
So 2-3 indoor workouts/wk and the endurance long ones are outside.

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Treat the downhills as recovery, the uphills as the hard intervals. An interval doesn’t have to be like clockwork, 5 mins or 10 mins every time. Outdoors it’ll vary based on terrain but it’s all good if it’s a good enough match.

I am not a pro outside workout person. So far, i have done 4 outside workouts and i agree: i think the structured outside workouts are going to be a game changer. I am terrible at maintaining the correct power, but that doesn’t bother me too much. What i have found:

  1. terrain undulates a lot more that i had realized and i (obviously) cannot do an interval while coasting. Just guessing at the length of hills did not work for me. I needed to look at strava to see how long i took i to do a segment.

  2. i ended up going back and forth on a a couple of stretches of road, which worked great for the intervals. I didn’t think that i would enjoy doing that, but i did.

  3. i suck at controlling my power. I am using an older model garmin and when my average power if off by enough, a darkened warning screen comes on obliterating my normal screen and tells me that my average power is too high or low. This screen prevents me from seeing any of the information that i want to see, like what my power actual is at the moment or the time left in the interval. I would like to get rid of this screen. I already know that i am terrible to managing my power and blinding me to the power numbers makes the situation worse.

  4. don’t get hit by a car. I need to prioritize safely turning around and making safe crossings over getting the interval timing right. No quick U-turns-always fully stop and double check that i can turn safely. Some sections of road cannot be crossed safely due to limited sight line. I just need to cross elsewhere even if that might make the interval not ideal. I had thought i could just turn around as needed, but i was wrong.

  5. i am going to try the 10 sec suggestion.

  6. i need to find areas to ride with less cars.

Currently doing only outside workouts on an AI adaptive plan for an XC 100 miles ride due on December.
TR and outside training, as compared to TR inside training, is still a different ball game which needs a lot of fineness by the rider as well as TR’s development team as far as the software goes.

  1. Software can not separate ride to and from the workout from the training session itself and one has to record the ride in three sections.
  2. Training session itself is not analyzed but one’s perception of it is, which is utterly subjective.
  3. No drills are included in the sessions, as opposed to indoor training.
  4. Tips that accompany the indoor sessions are excluded as well, other than a very general pre ride brief.

In short, it’s a different experience as compared to inside trainings regarding metrics, accuracy and regular drills that make one a more complete rider.
Is it the best online adaptive training program for the price?
I think so thus far.
Maybe.
But unless it becomes accurate and outside adapted it shall remain, in my opinion, no more than a step between generalized cheap plans and expensive individually adapted plans.
With the TR’s approach to science and professionalism I still have my hopes they can and shall deliver and in the near future rather than too far ahead.

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I am not following.

What do you mean by accurate?

I think lack of ERG mode means expectations on hitting power targets need to go down.

With that being said, I see @Jonathan nailing really complex workouts outside on his Instagram so I am going to say there is likely a lot of skill involved to make the workout more “accurate.”

Location is key! Choosing a segment that is long enough with as few interruptions as possible is important for getting a good workout. I like to try to find a climb or stretch of flat road and just do repeats on those.

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I’ve been doing them for a couple of years now.

The key thing that’s improved my experience is to keep an eye on the power only in the first few intervals, using that to calibrate RPE. I’ve found if I do this I still hit the power targest most of the time but I can give more of my attention to the world. It’s safer and way more enjoyable.

The other big improvement has been to really slow down and enjoy the recovery intervals. Notice the birds, wildflowers etc. Just have a nice time.

Accurate means your objective execution of an outside workout is not analyzed to determine how well you performed during the different intervals throughout the workout as is being done with inside workouts.
What is analyzed is your subjective response to assess the difficulty level of the session.
When it comes to an AI adaptive plan that changes according to execution of planned workouts it makes the adaptations of outside workouts not as accurate as the inside ones.

Oh. I thought TR are incorporating everything at this point. Thanks

  • easiest to do on a steady grade either flat or climbing
  • learn to shift by making inside like outside, which means no erg and putting a smart trainer in sim mode on Zwift or RGT or …
  • work on extending cadence range, get comfortable using 50-100+rpm
  • after improving pedaling skills/efficiency, challenge yourself on undulating courses
  • from the beginning use Garmin x30 or later head unit to get 2-min real-time power vs target power (its like TR app’s blue bars vs actual), and use TrainingPeaks to set ranges and not exact targets
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I have tried doing a few types of workouts outdoors, and here is what I have learnt.

  • Like @ZDW1995 wrote, route choice is key. The route has to be appropriate for the type of workout you want to do. Don’t plan a route through the mountains when you want to do an endurance ride. If your intervals are x minutes long, you need a stretch of road or route that is uninterrupted and at least x long.
  • I personally don’t like to do very hard workouts outdoors. It is simply a safety issue. When I am on my road bike and I have to give it my all to hit the power targets on the last VO2max interval, I cannot guarantee I put enough focus on the road and the traffic. The same thing applies when you are offroad and the terrain is technically challenging.
  • When you have to e. g. navigate traffic and terrain during intervals, make sure that your safety always takes precedence. So don’t pedal downhill if that doesn’t make sense.
  • Think of which types of workouts you can and want to do outdoors and which you prefer to do indoors.
  • Be flexible. E. g. I prefer my endurance rides to be unstructured. I decide how hard I want to go, pick a duration and when I get back, I match my outdoor ride with a similar indoor workout. Also, you likely won’t be able to hit your power targets with as much precision as indoors. That is ok.
  • Remember that there are other things that you can only learn when outdoors, but aren’t structured intervals. Cornering, descending and pacing are just a small selection. Just make sure you give each training ride a purpose. Sometimes I pace for highest average speed across a longer segment, where I try to maintain momentum on shorter climbs and the like.
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