The Philosophical Conversations - Stoicism and its relationship with TR training programs

Just curious to know if anyone swaps in Sweet-Spot workouts (Antelope +5, Tallac + 3 etc.) into their program in lieu of the scheduled Endurance rides (Brasstown, Boarstone, Pettit etc.)

The General Build HV program that I am doing has 2 x 90-120m Endurance workouts per week + 1 x full rest day off the bike completely. I’ve come off the back of a fairly high Endurance build out on the road prior to the COVID lock-down so I feel like I have a solid Endurance base coming into the program. Just not sure whether I would be better off swapping, at the very least, 1 of the Endurance workouts per week for a Sweet-Spot session and then keeping perhaps 1 x Endurance ride (with sprint spikes) in there to keep as more of an active recovery ride per week to go with the 1 x full day off the bike. I guess what I am trying to get at is - are 2 x Endurance rides necessary?

Would love to hear any feedback and/or prior experiences with this.

I’m not HV by plan-builder… so no, I don’t add extra SS or intensity to on-the-books workouts. I add rides and long z2 rides where my LV plan has nothing, and I try to add z2 time to the end of my interval rides.


If you have a strong base and you are managing the work load well, Great. The thing like all us cyclist is we miss the point of Recovery and how it supports adaption. More is not better. The endurance workouts support recovery. If you for example Did 7 days of VO2 max how would you be? Same 20 days of just Sweetspot without Recovery?

You need to do recovery, the reason why the plans have it are to allow you adaption… There is a but coming… We are not all equal so you may be stronger well adapted and a bit more workload may not be too much and as you are only adding Sweetspot which can be difficult but the reason sweetspot has so much appeal is you can do repeatedly -day after day.

So if it works for you, watch for any signs of overload. It may take some time for that to impact your performance.

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I came from a good base and joined TR 8 weeks ago and did SPB HV. I stuck exactly to the plan as it was my first proper structured training. I’m not sure I would of go through the 8 weeks if I had done such a swap.

To give you context - I am 36, recover pretty well but have the usual life stresses of work and young family.

I would suggest it’s fine to give it a go but if the harder sessions (v02/threshold etc) start to suffer then dial it back to the suggested plan. Being fresh enough to smash out the harder sessions is critical.

For me I had to mentally stop myself making it harder as I come from 12 hours a week riding, but dropping to 10 hours a week per HV plan felt harder due to the structure and thus it was sensible to stick to the plan #ftfp

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Great points here. Exactly the sort of constructive feedback I was after. Appreciate it. I think adding too much load during the week would hamper recovery but also limit performance in the VO2 sessions. Perhaps might just keep it dialled back a bit and enjoy the endurance sessions for what they are - an opportunity to cement growth and adaptation. Also an opportunity to enjoy listening to a podcast instead of having to listen to Rage Against the Machine to get through sessions, haha!

Once again, thank you for the insight. Sounds a lot like my own circumstances here. The freshness to stick out the VO2 sessions is a good point. You no doubt would have had quite a few of those sessions in the SPB HV program! I had a look at that before and it looks brutal with quite a lot of VO2 and threshold sessions.

I’ll keep an eye on the VO2 and threshold sessions and my performance in them. If my form and power target adherence suffers in those sessions - more so than general fatigue - then I’ve clearly gone too far and the added TSS from swapping endurance sessions to sweet spot is impacting the program. So far I’ve only decided to swap out 1 x endurance sessions for 1 x sweet spot session in the week so I’m still getting 1 x full day off the bike and 1 x low intensity endurance session in the week. Seems to be working so far but after the test week in Week 5 it looks like it gets a lot more intense so might not be able to do that!

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A bit of gracious humility here for anyone reading this post in the future. I originally posted this thread in the pursuit of becoming a stronger cyclist, alas, I digress - do not swap out scheduled Endurance rides for rides of higher IF such as Sweet-Spot and/or Threshold.

I did this under the guise of improving my own performance but it has had the opposite effect. I barely got through a VO2 max workout today. Performance in that workout was less than ideal. This is especially important given the fact that a big area of improvement for me needs to be in that VO2 and AC zone. Valuable lesson learnt today - less is more, and sometimes, even less is even more. The old adage of quality of quantity is burnt into my mind after this morning.

I am reading an amazing book at the moment called, ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday, and true to form, the chapter on ‘The Process’ that I have just read rings very true here. Altering a program and not resting the body - listening to that mind position of wanting to push harder and harder every session - is a surefire way to collapse under the weight of your own expectations, and dare I say it, performance. The quotes below seem to sum it all up perfectly:

“Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective” - The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday.

The mind in most cases wants to push on so that we can achieve our goals quicker. I would hazard a guess and say that 99.9% of the time pushing on with that is counterproductive to actually achieving your goals. Couldn’t help but think that these two quotes below also ring true.

“We are A-to-Z thinkers, fretting about A, obsessing over Z, yet forgetting all about B through Y.” - The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday.

“The process is about finishing. Finishing games. Finishing workouts. Finishing drives. Finishing sets. Finishing plays. Finishing blocks. Finishing the smallest task that you have right in front of you and finishing it well.” - The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday.

With that, I will leave this post with my hand up in the air saying I learnt a valuable lesson about my own body today - follow the process.

I gladly, and graciously, accept Petit on my schedule tomorrow morning.


Very interesting. My opinion is that training is an iterative game. There’s a mental part and a physical part. They’re dependent on each other obviously.

Here’s what that means to me:
I tend to manage stress of other parts of my life by getting to play my training game. Knowing that training is important helps me balance work, family and health. I can’t iterate a game where one area takes over the others. Doing 600-700 TSS puts things out of balance and that means the game will end with injury or illness or family neglected or work unfinished. Imbalance is not iterative.

An iterative game will end if one cannot recover quickly to do SS every day with good form. Injury stops the game.

One can force oneself to continue, HTFU-style, and maybe that’s fun for a while. “Look how tough I am!” The novelty wears off and the injury probability increases at an increasing rate, like a skateboard ramp. Not iterative.

So, I work on my limiters. I sit a lot for work, so I work on my core and glutes. I’m average to small, so I mix in some weights. After reading the SS Progression thread and doing an experiment with n=1 (because this is my game), I am trying to stack my workouts into 2 hard/1 easy/2 hard/2 easy per week. So far, so good. I tried 3 hard. It became apparent quickly that I was going to rely on Rule V to continue, so I changed. It’s a new mental and physical challenge, but I’m also scanning for imbalance and I will change it to keep the game going.

Games are supposed to be fun. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be challenging. Coach Chad really has thought this through. Tweaks to a plan should be minor and marginally progressive. Watch for things getting out of whack and don’t be a hero (okay be a hero if racing a bike is your job!)

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Great reply @SoonerNate. Some really philosophical angles that you take in relation to life and your training here. I tend to agree with you - imbalance is the crux of poor training. Unfortunately most of us aren’t pro’s (as much as we’d love to be!) and we have to hold down a 9 to 5 as well as raising a family and being a loving partner.

Greg McKeown has a book called ‘Essentialism’ which has some really important analogies between life and training. When you say yes to something, you are essentially saying no to something else. Doing another hard VO2 session = saying no to the potential rest you need as part of the program. Doing another 2 hour Endurance sessions = saying no to taking your kid out to the park. Inflated examples but I am sure the picture about how balance fits into the conversation is there. It’s all about finding balance. Balance for you. Your circumstances. Your life.

With your current set up of 2 hard/1 easy/2 hard/2 easy sessions per week, are you having any rest days there or just doing a smaller session like a ‘Pettit’ on one of the easy days?

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Thank you for your response. Did you study philosophy? I get that sense.
Earlier, I wanted to post my favorite training quote before but forgot, so I will do it now. I’m going to find that Essentialism book you mentioned, btw.

‘“People conceptualize conditioning in different ways," he said. "Some think it’s a ladder straight up. Others see plateaus, blockages, ceilings. I see it as a geometric spiraling upward, with each spin of the circle taking you a different distance upward. Some spins may even take you downward, just gathering momentum for the next upswing. Sometimes you will work your fanny off and see very little gain; other times you will amaze yourself and not really know why.”’

― John L. Parker Jr., Once a Runner

That out of the way, I guess keeping priorities straight is what adulting is all about. I remember seeing this cartoon where youth, adulthood, and old age were compared like a video game with graphs of money, time and energy. Youth have time and energy, but not much money. Adulthood is when we have more money, less energy, but much less time. Old age has lots of time, some money, but almost no energy.

And so I think about that when I’m deciding if I’m going on that ride.

To (finally) answer your question about the easy days in my 2h/1e/2h/2e cycle, I only schedule an easy ride on one day between the hard days. The seventh day, I rest. That’s a walk in the woods with my wife and/or a sit on the couch and watch my stories. The guts of the plan are simply the Mid Volume version with the hard/medium workouts bunched up. Then I put in my own easy days. I make them very easy.

Certainly have @SoonerNate. Mainly philosophy with an education lens though. Then again, all philosophy texts have an educational element to them regardless of whatever context you work in - Seneca’s 'Letters from a Stoic", Marcus Aurelius’s ‘Meditations’ etc. The learning can be applied to schools as well as Fortune 500 companies in the same breathe.

Essentialism is a great book if you are into the concept of Minimalism. The Minimalists Podcast echoes a lot of the content that Greg covers in the book too. It really does boil down to the concept of minimal movement frequency in life equating to inner peace. Sometimes saying no to things is the essential thing to do. Anyway, would love to hear your thoughts on the book and how it relates to your training and/or work once you are done. Love hearing about other peoples experiences with that book.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday is also another great book and a fantastic introduction into the mind of Marcus Aurelius and the notion of Stoicism. I’m reading it for the third time alongside the program I am currently doing as I feel that it helps me find solace in the struggle and challenge of training. Notably, the VO2 and AC sessions where I need a constant reminder to keep going even through every ounce of me wants to dial it down to 50% intensity.

Strangely enough, I did Shortoff +6 this morning (VO2 session) which I found quite challenging, but having a coffee before the session and reading a chapter of The Obstacle of the Way, I read this passage and it helped me through the session:

"Behind mountains there are more mountains. Elysium is a myth. One does not overcome an obstacle to enter the land of no obstacles. On the contrary, the more you accomplish, the more things will stand in your way. There are always more obstacles, bigger challenges. You’re always fighting uphill. Get used to it and train accordingly."

Things never really get easier on TR. You just get stronger. Then you are ready to tackle the next mountain.

Love your training quote too. Particularly this section:

It reminds me of the bow and arrow analogy - sometimes you have to be pulled back to be propelled forward.

Ahhh, now I get it. So there is a day of complete rest in there. I love that you are spending that day walking in the woods. Sounds peaceful and a great way to wind down and let the body and mind relax!


Oh man! I enjoyed reading that :point_up:

Philosophy especially epistemology, metaphysics, logic are such wonderful tools to wield today against modern problems as they were 200 or 2000 years ago.

Stoicism has made a resurgence in the last several years, I have noticed. Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday are two high profile stoics that I know of. As a way of living, Stoicism works on an individual level with higher returns on a societal level. Of course it can apply to training, as your latest session illustrates, and it should apply to training because stoicism prepares one for the inevitability of (glorious) suffering.

Our perceptions and expectations are so important to training, it’s no wonder why having a framework for values is a big part of successful training. Here’s a new quote:
“ Begin each day by telling yourself: today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill - will, and selfishness”— only replace that list with Mary Austin, Shortoff +6, Spanish Needle, etc. Resist the urge to grow pessimistic about hard things and Instead make friends with suffering. Remember Moliere’s observation that life would be boring without ups and downs. I think this helps one deal with the uphill by remembering the downhill.

Oh yeah, the imagery of a bow and arrow is wonderful! It makes me think of waves, cycles and rhythm. But don’t forget about dark and light, order and chaos.

Also, I ordered that book, so it should be here this week. When I have it read, I’ll give my thoughts. Cheers!

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Wow. This thread is much higher quality than I was expecting. Great stuff fellas.

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I agree. Stoicism is what is getting me through General Build High Volume at the moment! I am currently pushed to my physical capabilities in that program. Couple that with the fact that my diet is super clean at the moment whilst in the program - I am craving all the sweet delights of old days which is a very big mental challenge when going to the fridge. My mind and my body are in a completely new place. Some may say deprivation. Others, focusing only on what’s essential. If it wasn’t for Stoicism, I wouldn’t have the skills and knowledge in which to make sense of how I am feeling.

Am I really struggling? Or am I growing?

The philosophical angles and self-discussion that guide finding solace amidst some chaotic thought process in training and in the kitchen cupboard.

I often remind myself on the bike in the Threshold and VO2 sessions, “It’s O.K, this is only temporary. This short term discomfort is making you stronger. Better. More able to find peace with living in the ‘zone’ where others fear and/or avert at all costs.”

I think that is a good way to think of it not only for cycling but also for life too. When the Grupetto is pushing watts at Threshold and I’m barely hanging on, I know that the (glorius as you put it so well) suffering I am going through now will better prepare me to find a sense of calmness and ability to hold on, or even push higher and further, when others won’t have the same mental strength in which to do so. The program is not just about improving FTP, in fact far from it. It is also about developing my mental game in which to enjoy living in the moments of suffering out on the road and smile knowing full well that I have prepared for this.

This is great news! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it.

Thank you! Glad you enjoy the philosophical ramblings! I find conversations in this realm of training to be quite positive and essential to remembering why this is not in fact easy at the moment!

Had to change the title of the thread to 'The Philosophical Conversations - Stoicism and its relationship with TR training programs" as it seems this is where the conversation is heading. Love it.

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“This, what is it in itself, and by itself, according to its proper constitution? What is the substance of it? What is the matter, or proper use? What is the form, or efficient cause? What is it for in this world, and how long will it abide? Thus must thou examine all things that present themselves unto thee…
As every fancy and imagination presents itself to unto thee, consider (if it be possible) the true nature, and the proper qualities of it, and reason with thyself about it.”
-Marcus Aurelius, Book 8, Meditation X, XII

In the last few years, I have spent time thinking about how to describe obstacles, challenges or failures. The idea being: if I can define what something is essentially, then I can disperse ambiguity and categorize into ‘good for me’ and ‘worth it’/‘harmful’ and ‘non-iterative’. There’s an internal dialogue between my thinking voice and the real me. I’m hearing (repeating) things like: “Is pain real?” “What is pain?” “It’s the CNS circuit breaker, right?” “Is this good for me, like medicine?” Etc. I’ve used this line of inquiry against fear, being cold, and feeling ill.

Description is problem solving.

We must be cautious. Highly disciplined people, like you and me, can make a game of overcoming our physical discomfort by thinking “this is good for me”. I’m definitely not trying to corrupt anyone but vanity is one hell of an underrated motivator. This is good for ME!

Gotta go, my new book is here!

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