TrainerRoad - what do users expect / want in the future

I was replying to a different thread and wondered if this merited its own topic… Where do users expect / want the platform to develop in the future?

It seems nothing really came of the Zwift merger / collaboration that was teased by @dcrainmaker over 18 months ago. I suspect a lot of the genuine innovation in TrainerRoad is now complete, and it’s a case of refining existing elements. Doesn’t mean it’s not a good product, but with the launch of adaptive training I’m not sure where else there is to go. Is there another giant leap?

This isn’t a dig at TrainerRoad either, the same is happening on Zwift for example. Adding new worlds is just more of the same, maybe slightly better. Maybe it’s like the iPhone - the initial one was the revolution, subsequent ones are evolution.

Any thoughts?

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I think a lot of folk, including myself, are hanging on for WL2 (or whatever its called) the analysis of outdoors rides, particularly outdoor workouts.

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This and more flexible plans: flexible number of days, hours/day and adaptation to live (changing type of workout after a skipped workout or after a hard ride)

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I answered the other thread as well, but outside rides must be taking a lot of bandwidth. I expect this place is going to be an absolute sh1tshow when they do launch and people are very disappointed for unstructured rides at least!

I think Nate still has the ideas - the also teased red and green light stuff/ readiness to train.

I have to say, as the guys are so good at allowing the posts on their forum, I have a looked at the cheaper alternatives. However, I really like the reduction in cognitive load that TrainerRoad gives me, so I’m happy with current functionality, just working. Adaptive Training works when I answer the survey’s honestly, AI FTP is great for someone who generally under performed tests, the plans seem to work for me. I’m realistic enough to know that my unstructured outdoor rides aren’t really more than volume and maybe endurance - if they are adding anything AI FTP takes them into account.

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That’s what I want.

Outside levels isn’t really going to change much, maybe it’ll adjust plans if you have a monster day but I can’t see my outside rides effecting much. Whereas being able to limit workouts to X minutes for Y days a week would make fitting in for many people much easier.

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Outside levels is probably useful for most riders, but it’s just improving an existing function. And it’s likely all it’s going to tell you is that your outdoor rides are way more chaotic than you think, and if you want 3 x 15mins sweet spot get on the trainer and load up TR.

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Unfortunately for TR several such apps already exist which are much cheaper to boot…

So it’s almost like adaptive training 2.0? Taking the underlying premise and improving it? That sounds good, but I expect will come with a lot of asterisks from the TR team that if you don’t do a minimum level you can’t expect improvements.

With the exception of adaptive training, which was more a platform-wide framework than a training plan, the last new plans that were added is polarized, is that right? And to be honest, it felt from the podcast like they had their arm twisted into doing that, or doing it sooner than they wanted.

Do you think increased competition is hampering development at TR, or was it simply a comment that alternatives exist?

It feels like the market expanded rapidly and has stagnated somewhat, leading to the financial issues for some hardware suppliers and consolidation on the software side.

I think you have different segments of the industry in different stages. Hardware is calm right now with minimal innovation, more catching up so everyone is on the same page. Indoor training is spiking right now as non-Zwift companies try to steal some Zwift customers. Training plans I would say is at the end of a spike and is calming down. Companies popped up and exist right now, though may consolidate or cease to exist.

I think the new training plan companies, or those who are becoming more well known, are certainly putting pressure on TR - as is demonstrated even on this forum - by showing that there are alternative ways that better fit the lifestyle for more people. They don’t inherently hamper development, aside from potential (or real) lost revenue. Aside from the comments that WL2 is hard, we don’t really know further details. I can speculate that it is fundamentally oppossed to how TR was originally written to be, and thus you either have to alter TR fundamentally or try to shove the round WL2 Into a square hole and hope for the best. This all has to be done while keeping things going for everyone without breaking stuff, such that when the move is done things just continue to work with no impact aside from new functionality.

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I don’t think so. I think what is hampering TR are workout levels and the idea that every workout need to progressively overload.

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Having made a big commitment to workout levels and accommodating outdoor workouts within that framework it’s difficult to back out now.

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I agree that some people will be disappointed with the outdoor rides feature because for a certain type of ride it won’t have a huge impact on PLs, but I think this is missing a critical component of what’s needed.

We’ve all agreed that “your outdoor Saturday group B rides aren’t very structured and won’t have much impact on PL’s”, but what’s missing from those comments is that they SHOULD have a HUGE impact on your PLAN. And I’m not sure they will.

What SHOULD happen is that TR should be able to see that you did a ride with some tough climbs for 3 hours outdoors on Saturday and therefore your body is tired and the workout previously scheduled for Sunday needs to be reassessed to determine if it’s now the correct workout. Conversely, it should also be able to tell you did that 90 minute group B ride and spent most of your time soft pedaling in the draft, so you still have gas in the tank and ramp up the Sunday ride to add more stress.

Once it determines the workout for Sunday, it needs to then reassess the rest of your workouts for the upcoming week, taking into account that you’ve said you need to take Tuesday off and that you have 60 minutes on Wednesday and 2 hours on Thursday, etc.

Once you have that, you’ll have truly adaptive training.

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The progression level thing needs a re-think. I feel Trainerroad thought this would be a tantalizing way to make numbers go up in lieu of FTP increases but in the end as far as I’m concerned they have most bearing under the hood for train now and adaptive training purposes. That being said I feel a logical step before outside rides impact PLs Trainerroad needs to start by at least being able to read their own workouts and adjust PLs based on how they were completed and not just that they were completed. I’m one of those super passing idiots who generally considers the power targets the minimum and aims for a few watts over. In some cases that theoretically puts the workout at a higher PL but that doesn’t yet reflect in the results. I feel if they can’t even get the AI to read their own workouts reading an outside ride whose power output looks like an ECG from a rollercoaster would be a bridge too far.

That, and cleaning up the workout catalog.

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@Pbase It would certainly be a stepping stone on the journey to getting to that adaptiveness, but with how long it’s taking for that stepping stone… I wonder how long it would take while other new or existing entrants which already have that base continue to refine/add features/etc. Here’s a thought: For the new/existing companies built on an adaptive base, how hard would it be for them add the functionality that TR has that people adore (workout builder, calendar, workout player, what else…)? I think far easier than TR doing the reverse…

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I’ve recently found big success focusing on raising my CTL. I’ve found the actual workouts don’t matter that much, as long as you’re getting in your TSS goals. A couple hard workouts a week (Tues/Thurs that progress week over week) and all else mid z2 (70 IF) with 1 fun weekend ride (MTB or tempo gravel). That’s it, super simple.

So I’d like to see TR focus more on progressive TSS and raising CTL. 5+ years with TR and my CTL never broke 80. That included various times of burnout. Now, CTL of 112, faster than ever and never even close to burnout.

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100%

If all that AT 2.0 brings is “PL credit” for outside rides - which as we all know will amount to very little due to the unstructured nature of outside rides not aligning well with the PL scoring system - then I’ll consider it a big “Fail”, and it’ll have amounted to a very poor use of development resources and time.

Time is crucial - in software it’s easy to go from being a dominant incumbent to a legacy provider if you choose the wrong track at crucial moments when the landscape is fundamentally shifting.

The holistic functionality that @Pbase describes there is the sort of thing that’s required, and in time I suspect that whoever best delivers that at a fair price will gather a lot of customers to their platform. I’d love that to be TR, but incumbents can all too easily find themselves hamstrung by the previous paths they’ve chosen and which cannot easily be departed from, despite a better way forward becoming apparent to everyone.

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This reflects my own experience. I’ve been lucky enough to be coached since July by someone undertaking the British Cycling Level 3 qualification and with much more focus on base building rather than three head-bangers a week I’m stronger than I’ve been in years. Conversely, I used TR to train for two Ironmans but was a novice cyclist and think I had a load of easy development opportunities.

I kept on trying with the TR methodology and just ended up fried again and again. Enjoying my cycling much more now, using TR as a platform with workouts coming through TrainingPeaks.

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It is likely time for TR to show some data and supporting analysis around AT demonstrating that it is a superior training platform. It’s nice to say “science” frequently along with other terms such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

But if you are true to your ethos, show the results.

I recall the excitement from the team at launch of AT. That excitement, both from the TR team and TR user appears to have dwindled. A demonstration that AT is working as intended might recapture some of that excitement and enthusiasm for both groups.

YMMV

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I very much fear this to be the likely outcome.

This would have been a better way to move forward IMO. But they got stuck with this PL system and it’s become a drag.

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