Training Plan Selection Help - Scheduling Structured and Unstructured Rides

Hey Everyone,

I’m hoping you can offer some advice on my quandary about how to schedule my training plans/workouts with unstructured rides.

I’m a recreational cyclist, both road and MTB (trail) with no intention of entering races, but enjoy competing against myself, my friends, and the other locals on Strava!

Living in the UK, the weather is not on our side most of time, so when it’s nice out I tend to want to get out and ride without thinking about training per say to help destress/decompress/simply enjoying cycling.

I have a powermeter on my road bike, but the terrain near me doesn’t lend itself to the workouts I’ve tried, without adding another ~150TSS onto the session with riding to terrain that is suitable, which isn’t necessarily an issue, but makes weekly TSS totals a little harder to manage and distracts from the destress/decompression benefits I get from cycling outside.
I’m comfortable with 400-500 TSS a week, and my average TSS for road and MTB rides are ~225 and ~110 respectively. (MTB estimates based on HR and RPE)

My question/quandary is how to get the most of out the training plans, while also leaving flexibility to get out and enjoy an unstructured ride.
I think I’ve got two options, but open to other suggestions!

1 - A Low Volume plan, and fill the gaps with either “Train Now” if indoor, or and outdoor ride if the weather/mood takes me.

2 - A High Volume plan, and simply replace a couple of the sessions a week with an outdoor ride.

Both options give me some structured training to follow, and the freedom to enjoy the good weather when it graces us with it’s presence!
I think I’m leaning towards option 1, as it would work better with AT (I think?!) and I can manage weekly TSS totals better.

Open to suggestions, comments, other similar experiences.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for an awesome product!


Hello David,
I thought I would chip in with my experience as your post resonated.
I too am UK and like to ride outside for the same reasons as you. It’s also my main release during these times. However, I probably end up riding very average. Not too easy and not too hard apart from hills which I enjoy. I think to combine inside and outside like you suggest would require you to be fairly strict to stick to a programme whatever you do. Really depends too on your objectives.
I was very diligent following HV sweetspot base then a build phase. Come March I’ve been outside a lot more and my TR plan has kind of fallen apart. I’m riding outside and using a pick of higher intensity sessions from the speciality phase and train now to do indoors and maybe fitting in other lesser intensity rides indoors depending on the weather.
I know I’ve got fitter but have accept any ‘progress’ may now be a bit hap hazard. I’m just kinda happy riding my bike. I also don’t have any set objective other than I’ll probably stick to this unstructured plan until next winter rolls around.

Thanks @Richard12, sounds like we are in similar positions.

I’m happy to be strict with myself with regards to the indoor workouts, my main concern is not setting myself up to fail which is why I’m leaning towards the low volume option with supplemental workouts and/or outdoor rides to hit the weekly TSS targets.
I’m keen to avoid burning out, or over loading myself as I know the unstructured rides could be anywhere from 90 to 250TSS per ride on top of the training plan.

My main targets would be to get fitter/faster to enjoy the outdoor rides more, while still enjoying the escapism and not having to worry so much about the numbers.

I have the same quandary, again living in the UK. I’ve given up on any form of structured plan as my social riding outside just got in the way of it. When I’m on a group ride with friends I just ride at whatever intensity the group dynamic ends up being, When I’m on my own outside I go long and steady. Inside on the trainer my priority is not to compromise my outside group rides which particularly when the weather gets better can be long, hard and very fatiguing. To that end I only do intervals on the turbo when I know I will be able to set the intensity agenda in the following few days, otherwise its 60/90minutes at or just below LT1 or a easy recovery ride. I only structure my riding by monitoring and trying to gradually increasing my Training Load. The thread on here about Inigo San Millan’s philosophy has helped me tremendously with giving me an intensity target for the majority of my solo rides on the turbo or outside.

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After doing a bit of a forum deep dive last night I’ve decided on option 1, or as others have labelled it, “Low Volume Plus”. It should give me the targeted structured workouts, with the freedom of me adding in unstructured rides as needed.

Thanks both for your input and experiences! Hopefully the UK weather picks up for us again soon!

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On LV++ vs HV-, I think it depends on if you think you will feel like you’re ‘skipping workouts’ if you go HV an swap out workouts for free / outdoor rides as well as how extensive the modifications are to the HV plan to ensure you get adequate recovery from the outdoor riding.

For me, I would feel like I was ‘skipping workouts’ if I went HV, so I did what I call LV++. I ride every day, so I did the LV rides and added 2 active recovery days (Lazy Mountain variants) and added 2 free / outdoor rides. I’ll just note that I was able to stack SSBLV rides on Tues/Wed/Thurs but that did not work for me with Sustained Power Build and I realized a bit too late. For SusPB I’d recommend picking two of the workouts to be the ‘key’ workouts and make the third optional, then make sure you have a recovery day before the key workouts so you can hit them hard. I also subscribe to the 2-3 days of intensity (above endurance zone) approach and didn’t want to be doing sweet spot 5 days / week.

I was riding around 12hrs/week this way. So LV plan but with higher weekly hours than HV and probably around an extra 400TSS or so / week over the LV plan. I think 600-650TSS/week is around or slightly above the HV plan.

I’m always amazed by the people talking about skipping the rides or things they love about cycling to adhere to a cookie cutter training plan. My personal opinion is that most of us are cycling for fun and enjoyment amongst other reasons. Our ‘training plans’ should include something we love about cycling on a weekly basis. ‘Fun’ or ‘Joy’ rides should be baked into everyone’s plans (and ideally in a way that complements the rest of our training if possible.)