Trainerroad outdoor workouts without a power meter?

Asking on behalf of my Dad who’s not a member yet but I’m wondering if it would be worth him signing up. He doesn’t have a power meter but he has a Wahoo head unit.

Basically he works nights so has limited time to train so indoor training is out of the question but he does commute to work on his bike 4 nights a week which is only 3 miles from where he lives but he always leaves an hour before he starts to make it into a bigger loop so would have time here…

We’re a similar FTP, so I did a VO2 max workout with him this morning and he just copied what I was doing and he seemed to enjoy it. One thing I noticed when looking at the workout when I got back though was that VO2 max on the RPE scale was a 9. Surely that seems too high?

Anyway, he’s wanting to do some more structured training so I’m basically just wondering if anyone here has had any success using TR based purely from RPE whilst riding outdoors?

This is a decent reference file to start:

I’ve done outdoor workouts on my MTB which doesn’t have a power meter. Surprisingly accurate from just “feel” - looking at estimated power on Strava afterwards it shows I was within 5% which given that their algorithm probably assumes being on road rather than off-road isn’t bad. So while not as accurate as a PM it’s close enough that you are getting most of the benefits for whatever zone you are aiming for.

I’d say VO2max, done properly, is a nine on a ten step scale, only out and out sprints are going to feel harder.

It could be a “try it and see” case. I’m rubbish at having a feel for these kinds of things, there’s no way I could accurately assess my zones by feel. Which is exactly why I bought a power meter :grin:

Before TR my training was the CTS/Strava plans (they still have them) and those were done by HR and RPE. To use HR my recommendation is to calculate lactate threshold HR (LTHR) and use that for zones. My LTHR from 2016 is still the same in 2021 (versus max HR which goes up and down). At least in the CTS system (some details on Strava: CTS Cycling Training Glossary) the vo2max efforts are max repeatable efforts and are easily done without a power meter. TrainerRoad tends to be more oriented to working at set % of power, although you can adapt it to RPE as noted (however I personally believe HR is better for endurance and sweet spot and threshold work).