Using a training plan loosely around normal riding/racing

Hi everyone,

This is potentially covered somewhere else so please direct me if so but I wanted to get some direction on using a training plan whilst still doing the group rides/races I like.
I’ve set myself up yesterday on a base plan with the intention of having structured training for the next 3 months up to an MTB stage race. Mid vol so 5ish hours per week.

I dont intend on doing every session however, I like my group ride on Thurs and I like to race crits on the weekend, so my intention is to do the workouts where I can but mostly keep track of my weekly TSS target and try not drift too far from that, accepting that it may be a bit off now and again. I’ll try keep rides to similar efforts as I am prescribed on the workout but it may not always be the case.

Is my logic ok or should I look at it a different way?


Your logic isn’t bad. For a MV plan I’d recommend substituting your weekly crit for one of the interval days (Tues, Thurs, or Sat), and substitute your group ride for Sundays’ workout. More discussion below and also use the search function on the forum to find similar topics.

I would suggest that instead of trying to adapt the rides to match the plan you should adapt the plan to match the rides.

For instance if your group ride is similar to an over/under workout then you should drop your over/under workouts from the plan since you’ll be getting that sort of training stimulus from your group ride

Likewise, if the crit is technical and thus has lots of short spikes of power you should drop those rides from the plan.

If you aren’t sure what type of workout you’ll get from the weekly rides and the crits then you can always wait until you’ve done a few of them and adjust accordingly. That said - if the group ride is a heavy effort and you’re working hard in the crits you’re really going to want to drop a lot of the intensity from the plan and keep the easy stuff inside as you’ll already be getting two intense sessions outdoors every week

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I also love my group rides, have similar weekly commitments (a Wednesday night worlds/smashfest and a long 3-5 hour weekend ride, plus a propensity to say yes to anybody with any good adventurous cycling plans) and have come at this from a few different angles. No right way or wrong but maybe helpful to share what I’ve tried, what worked well and what didn’t!

Base is pretty easy to figure out. The Low and Medium plans include some higher intensity sessions in SSB2, but I was getting enough intensity work from my outdoor rides and races so went with High Volume, and just picked 3 of the 5 SS sessions each week to get my TSS to the right ballpark, then added in 1-2 easy/recovery rides either indoors and out. Aimed to increase TSS incrementally through the 5 weeks, then an easy week (which I tried to coincide with a weekend race to take advantage of the fresh legs).

Build is trickier. I like General Build as I’m an all-rounder, the workouts are very varied though between threshold, VO2, anaerobic and sprint (plus some tempo and SS sessions in the Medium and High plans). Looking at the sessions I didn’t feel that either of my group rides were a sufficient like for like replacement (the Wednesday ride is a real mix of all intensities), and there wasn’t a clear choice of workout to skip. So ended up trying to accommodate all 3 of the high intensity workouts each week, plus the 2 group rides, plus 1-2 easy/recovery rides. The workouts in the High plan were too tough to make this work, so I dropped down to the Medium ones, even though my TSS is closer to the High plan. Those sessions and my Wednesday ride are also too tough to do on back to back days at the same time (unlike SS sessions), I don’t have the luxury of being able to put 48 hours between those sessions, but have been getting 36 hours recovery by scheduling morning workout followed by an evening one the next day, that’s worked well. The one week my plan got thrown out the window a bit was when there was perfect storm on the weekend ride - higher than usual number of local racers, some strong winds and a hot day, ended up a total hammer fest with breaks and splits all over the place and I had to skip a VO2 session the next day as no way I could have got any benefit out of it. But hey, that’s the fun of group rides, you never quite know how they’re going to play out!

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Thanks Cartsman, that’s useful.
I guess I am trying to be realistic with my training as work can get in the way and I do enjoy getting outdoors when I can for my sanity. I am understanding the benefits of the trainer a bit more now though so will try and get some discipline rather than riding like a headless chicken all the time.

As @trpnhntr said adjusting the plan around your outdoor rides is probably your best strategy. This is easily done in Sweet Spot Base as the rides are very similar and you’ll likely have the fitness to complete any of the rides.

For Build and Speciality this can get trickier. The rides can be varied and ramp up from week to week. For reference, I asked a similar question during General Build: Replace VO2 or Threshold workout with outdoor ride. I’m in the second week and it’s going well. When my Weds hammerfest gets rained out or weekend time constraints mess with my long rides I always have a backup. I’m happy with the compromise in results…since I don’t race it’s ALL about the group ride for me.

the logic seems pretty good, just depends what the group ride looks like and the crits. A crit can be a time trail effort if you’re a monster and TT’ing OTF, or it could be a neuromuscular smash fest if things stay all together…two different workouts.

Same with group ride; most are a lot of coasting and smashing.

Problem is, neither works specifically on YOUR weaknesses, which is what you want to be focusing on during your workouts.

So, I’d look to see what holes you’re addressing with these two rides and work backwards from there. Prob don’t need a ton more intensity, maybe some vo2max but don’t topple from doing too much.

Keep us posted!