Should I even do structured training?

Hey everyone, so I have been think about doing structured training this summer. I have done a good amount of training over the winter but didn’t see that big of a gain in FTP. I would like to keep working on it over the summer but intervals outside doesn’t really work for where I live. I live in southern NH and the roads here a very hilly. No flat stretches of roads that I can do intervals on (besides rail trials). Part of the reason I love cycling is because I love exploring the roads around where I live. Should I still try and do structured training outside even if it isn’t optimal? Should I just try and out and ride as much as possible? Should I only do structured trainer rides a few days a week inside on the trainer and the other ones be outside? Would love to hear what some of y’all have to say on this.

Just ride.
I’m drinking a cup of coffee now at 4.30am before heading out for a spin. Haven’t even decided where I’m going or for how long yet. Just want to be out in the morning air, turning those peddles.
Will it make me faster?
Well, yes it will. Of of course it will! There’ll be hills along the way which will be my harder efforts.
There! An interval session. Body doesn’t care that it’ll be ‘unstructured’.


Can you link or take a screenshot of your training? Would help with responses.

That said, you should do what you love. This is supposed to be fun…. So go explore and get your tires dirty. Should you also do workouts on the trainer? That depends on a lot of things but why not? Two workouts a week is a great way to maintain (or even build) fitness when mixed in with your outside rides.

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As above - do your endurance/zone 2 work outside. You could use a hill near you for VO2 work - ride up v hard and return…until you feel :face_vomiting:. Then you could add one structured sweetspot or threshold session on the trainer - or more if the weather turns crappy.

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Do you like doing intervals? Does structure appeal to you? Do you feel any fitness gains (not necessarily just FTP gains)?

Here is my approach. My goal is lower this year. Plan to ride Ragbrai in July. 7 days of 80 mile days, whatever pace you want. I did low volume structured training indoors Jan to April. Then I switched to mid volume and do TR workouts indoors Tues, Thursday. Wednesday is a wild card and typically a shorter endurance. I can go in or out. then on the weekends I look at TR plan or Trainnow, and head outdoors for fun.
My thought is that a few days of tempo and sweet spot indoors, with precisely hitting the numbers is good to stay tuned up. But then I need 2-5 hour rides outside and I need to have fun mentally.

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This ^^.

Your 2 structured workouts can be SS, threshold or even VO2 and above, depending on what your goals are and what phase of training you are in.

On your outdoor rides, you can do some light structure. if you’re alone it’s a great opportunity to go do a nice long z2 session one day. Then hit the hill climbs at sweet spot another day. Hitting the hills at SS is probably more group ride friendly.

A lot of this depends on what your goals are for training.


I would do this.

Also see if you can find some hills you know that are good for 2-4minute climbing and 10-20min climbs and try taking some of your workouts outside

Yeah probably should’ve stated my goals for training first. So I am a incoming second year at my college and interested in racing the collegiate scene. Maybe even some crit racing too. Honestly I don’t mind doing the intervals outside, I just don’t know if I am getting all the gains from them because of my giant power fluctuations. Here is one of my recent workouts doing Kway outside: Log In to TrainerRoad.

Do your intervals outside. I know not a popular opinion on a TR forum but:

  • you are interested in racing the collegiate scene, I take it the racing is outside? So you need to learn to turn the pedals hard when you are outside, it’s that simple.
  • the reduction in accuracy of doing X watts for Y minutes simply doesn’t matter, as long as you are getting roughly the Time in Zone for that session, let your interval time and interval target wattage vary a bit, it’s the overall session effect you are driving toward.
  • you will learn a lot trying to do blocks of effort in a particular zone with inconsistent terrain. It’s a skill that will only help you to ride fast in racing or group rides. For example, I will do 2 x 30 sweetspot outside tomorrow, on rolling terrain, featuring a some sharp kickers. Will I sit perfectly within 5w of my target? Definitely not, I might even stray into tempo on the downhills and threshold on the steep kickers, but that really doesn’t matter if it’s for a few seconds here and there.

The caveats, as there are always some are:

  • certain roads will suit interval length better than others. You may be constrained to only say, short minute efforts given the length or grade of climbs nearby, or the downhills are just so steep you can’t do anything meaningful from a power output perspective.
  • on-off type intervals are hard to do outside unless you have really straight, long, traffic and junction-free roads in my opinion. I can do them on rolling terrain but they take a lot of mental energy and if there’s traffic or junctions then doing repeated max efforts doesn’t always feel 100% safe.

tl;dr there’s a tonne to be gained from doing them. Pick your route and roads to suit the workout ahead of time. Don’t sweat the workout prescription. Add some Z2 before and after. Enjoy getting better at learning your body and handling your bike.

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