Staying compliant on Outdoor TR rides + TR planned rides vs just riding for pleasure

Hi all. I’m new to this forum and hoping for a steer on a couple of things.

Number 1 - I have a TR plan that has me training indoors 2 x per week and a longer ride outdoors 1 x per week.

I struggle to stay compliant on TR on outdoor rides especially in winter when I am riding a CX bike with no power meter. In summer on my road bike I tried TR with my power meter a couple of time but also found it difficult to stay at the target zones – this was due mainly to the road / terrain getting in the way – i.e. it’s not just flat road with no interruptions allowing me to hit a target power – junctions, inclines / declines, etc. all seemed to work against me.

Does anyone have any tips for doing outdoor rides on “real world terrain / roads” that help stay reasonably compliant with the TR workout and avoid the above scenario?

Number 2 – On the one hand I want to stick to my TR plan so that I have some structure to my training and can hopefully make progress in a systematic way. The flip side of this is that I love just riding for pleasure / relaxation / to explore and just for the sake of riding my bike.

If I am following a TR plan then I have less chance to do these “un-structured” rides and after a while it starts to feel that I am just a slave to the plan and the numbers and it diminishes my overall riding pleasure.

My question is: Is it OK to ride outside of the TR planned days just for the sake of it or is this going to be counter-productive in terms of risk of over-training? – the additional TSS of an extra couple of rides will take me beyond the planned TR work load for that given week – which I am led to believe can be counter-productive. Does anyone else experience this and if so how do you get a balance between structured rides and riding just for the sake of it?

For context – I am a 54 year old rider, in reasonable shape, riding since I was a kid, I do road / gravel / MTB just for pleasure / fun with a few events sprinkled in over the season. I ride for pleasure / enjoyment and to keep fit and mobile more than anything so am not a super competitive racer or anything like that. I used TR last year and have seen gains in FTP that translate to easier / faster riding on the road and so I do want to continue with some form of structured training / riding.

Any pointers would be very welcomed.

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I think the LV plan you are on will be fine doing the 2 days in and out do the best you can while riding for fun. Outside is it not easy to hit the targets sometimes as the terrain does not help. Sweet spot workout are one of the harder ones. As long as you get in the ballpark don’t sweat it.

Overtraining is probably not much of a concern in your scenario unless you are not getting enough sleep, fuel or stop having fun.

Unfortunately, if you’re in rolling terrain it takes a lot more focus. It’s training, after all, not just riding around. The other thing you can do is plan a route which supports your ride, e.g. less hills, fewer junctions, etc. Takes a bit of work but once it’s done, it’s done and you don’t have to think about it again.

Yes. Always. Big picture. Even if you only do 2xTR/wk, it’s still going to make you a stronger rider for your fun rides, you’ll enjoy them even more. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Riding only for workouts is akin to a musician who only practices scales and chord progs and never actually plays a song.

Happy pedalling!


Do you have any long steady climbs? Far and away my preferred terrain for intervals. I have one flat road suitable for intervals but even that’s pretty bumpy.

Best analogies! You had another really good one somewhere…

I’m in the same ride outside for pleasure boat as you. This is why I train in the winter and then just ride in the summer, the last thing I want to be doing is killing my joy worrying about “I gotta hold 250 for 10 minutes” or whatever. Enjoy your ride, you can still make gains without structure if you work on building a good base in the winter. My first year of TR took me from 268 to 290w and that summer with zero structure boosted me to 300 by the time the next winter rolled around.

Cycling is not all about training and intervals, if you’re like me training is just a means to get faster and not the sole purpose of riding


I try to fit my 3 “key” TR workouts in during the week, and then just treat the weekend outdoor spin as just a long spin. At mid volume, the weekly tips even say you can do this. Maybe this is an option?

Previously, I’ve done that with Monday-Wednesday-Friday as the TR workouts, heading out with the club (when covid restrictions/ family commitments/ weather allows) on a Saturday. I’m hoping to go with the race group this year, which will be Sunday, so going with the more traditional Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday workouts, and club spin as my “moderate” one. Club spins seem a long way off though due to Covid, so it’ll probably be a zwift “event” for the foreseeable!

Depending on how much time you have for your weekend ride, you could do the workout then just ride for a while longer. If that’s too much, you could do a minus version of the workout then ride for fun.

On 3 rides a week I wouldn’t worry about the overtraining aspect of added tss with an outside ride.

Don’t let yourself get burnt out by it either. Better to be consistent and have more fun than get burnt out and become inconsistent.

I’d recommend doing the two workouts and simply having fun outside on the 3rd. If you want to be more structured…then look at the planned workout prior to going outside and make a point to hit whatever energy system its training for approximately the same amount of time. Ie. If it’s a vo2 max interval, then every time you come to a 2-3min hill on your outside ride, go at vo2 max until you’ve accumulated 20ish total minutes at vo2 max. Or if it’s an endurance ride, try to make a point to ride consistently at that endurance pace without ever coasting.

I find pleasure in riding super hard and watching others suffer more then me, does that count :slight_smile:

Thanks for the pointers and opinions guys – they are a welcomed perspective on my thinking.

I think as people have said at my low volume I am probably safe from over training even if I do ride weekends and increase TSS beyond what TR has me planned in for the week.

I also think that I’ll relax a bit about trying to keep dead strict on the weekend / long rides. But I like the idea of tipping my hat to what the TR workout for that day says – i.e. if it says go hard on that day make sure I include some hard efforts in that ride.

Last year even with fairly loose compliance to the TR plan it did have me riding faster and at higher wattage on my weekend rides - and that made them all the more enjoyable.

So I think my strategy this year will be: a) stick to my TR plan closely mid-week indoor rides , b) stay consistent over time! (this is actually my Achilles-heel with work / family life getting in the way), c) pretty much do what I want on outdoor weekend rides – but have in mind what the TR workout for that day is.

I also plan to get some events booked in the calendar pretty soon, but I fear Covid may have just put the kybosh on that with this new lock-down announced this evening.

Thanks everyone and stay safe.