Train Now versus using progression levels to pick your own workout?

The TL;DR version, since this ended up being long: Is there any reason to strictly follow train now and the proposed alternates for 2 structured workouts/week rather than sticking close-ish to PL and pick workouts that are more appealing (due to terrain or just my mood), if I’m still progressing my various training zones and only have general fitness and preserving gains as a goal?

I’m finishing up my first full training cycle on TR and have for the most part enjoyed seeing what structure, some lifestyle changes, and other strategies from the podcast have done to help my riding. I’ve been riding a mix of road and MTB for about a decade now and have hovered in the mid-3 w/kg range for most of it and am just below 4 now, which was my loose goal for giving real structure a go. However, like I’ve seen in other posts, good weather outside is bringing back old habits of wanting to ride for fun, enjoy the scenery and trail time, and hammer more when I feel like it than when my Wahoo tells me to.
I started with SSBMV and mid volume general build, and am now at the end of rolling road low volume specialty - the last one picked mostly because that describes my local terrain and I wanted more of a general fitness than anything race-specific. I don’t really have any “goals” other than seeing if I can hit 4 w/kg, though I may jump into the local fast ride that totally humbled me a few years ago, just to see what it’s like now and if I can hang a bit better.
I know recent life stress is a factor and because of that, I’ve had a few weeks that were either pushed back to endurance pace or limited to just a few days of trying to get the key TR workouts in on the rollers or outside, and it was a real struggle to not just go out and ride by feel and mood.

With all of that said: I’m struggling to find motivation to do the three workouts/week for this last part of specialty, especially since there’s not a race at the end of it (I’ve raced before, no interest currently). I imagine I will just do a couple structured workouts/week for the rest of the summer and then ride as I want to the rest of the time, trying not to fatigue myself so much that I can’t do the workouts well. But I also have already found it a little frustrating and unmotivating to have to spend extra time to plan special routes to be as close to the required intervals as possible for whatever workout I’m doing - I live just outside a major city that is quite hilly but doesn’t have sustained climbing hills, making it hard for much consistency at all. I’ve found myself already riding the same couple of climbs that are decent for vo2 and anaerobic work with basically the same route to/from because of terrain and time constraints and it’s frankly pretty boring. What difference would it make if I followed my progression levels and went through the library to find something that would be productive but allowed for different routes and what I feel like doing for the day? I’d hope to just preserve fitness and probably rotate between training zones, trying to do at least one on the higher end/week. Wondering what success other people have had using the workout library according to PL, or whether it’s worth it to do the proposed workout that feels a bit dreadful that day.

I’d pick the one that made me most likely to get out & get it done.

If the progression level is comparable, so much the better.


Congrats on getting faster! Let us know how it goes when you check out that group ride.

I live in a place that sounds similar in terms of urbanity and terrain, and I’ve also got limited time to train and I like getting outside when I can. My goals are basically to get faster and be able to hang on the faster group rides, and I may try racing CX this fall.

I’m doing a LV CX plan and I think something like it might possibly work for you? The nature of the VO2 intervals have been pretty straightforward to do outside, and there’s a lot of VO2 :sweat_smile:. I’ll occasionally do a workout inside for schedule reasons, or if it’s longer threshold intervals. It’s made me a much snappier rider already.

I’ve found the intentional progression and standardized scheduling valuable, but if you like/want to get into the workout library and find ones you’re interested in, I could see that working. I’d just be careful about not losing out on the consistency that’s brought you here.

I think the main advantage of Train Now is just fewer clicks / less thinking - you don’t have to faff around filtering and sorting the library or wondering which of three similar workouts you should pick. Going through the library essentially gets you to the same place, but trades off more work for more choice.

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I’ve been using Train Now because I can’t handle three workouts and three outside rides a week.
I look at what it suggests and the other two rides and do the one I think I can do. If they all look too hard I hit refresh. Some times I hit refresh a lot!
Remember that Train Now doesn’t take your fatigue in to account, so you need to manage that yourself.


This isn’t hard… do a custom plan and delete the third workout. Yes, the company line is that you will be leaving gains on the table, but the truth is, if it really is too much for you then you are actually throwing away your gains by doing too much.

Hit the trash can button, ride outside easy or whatever you do. Then you get the PL, adaptations, etc. and don’t dig yourself into a hole. Win-win.


Thanks, I hadn’t looked at the cx plan previously. It is appealing to me to have some kind of orientation to the workouts, if possible, and maybe those will be easier to follow! Appreciate it.

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Yeah, I guess I was wondering what else might be in the algorithm that I’m not accounting for if I go through myself?

Thanks for the input and good point, I would have to do all of the periodization and rest weeks manually, but I’m pretty used to that from previous riding (would always take the 4th week easy, even without structure). Have you still seen improvements?

Custom plan seems like an option, though I’m mostly concerned with seeing the prescribed workout (even if only 2 and deleting the third), then wanting to ride outside and not having any good route possibilities for that combo of intervals and rest time in between. So I’m wondering what difference it would make to just use the workout library, decide I want to build vo2 or anaerobic or whatever that day, and pick something I can more readily accomplish without sitting on ride with GPS for 30 minutes beforehand (or using the same two hills, which is already boring this summer).

Agreed. I have already been tempted to just put TR aside out of annoyance with trying to adhere to the plan and not finding a good outside solution. So yes, whatever structure I can stick to is a good reminder and baseline.

I’m up about 11 watts in the last month but I’m coming off a really low base.

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