Weight vs. Power, Failed Workouts, Junk Miles and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 291

Weight goals can seem like they are at odds with power goals, but there is a healthy way to achieve both. We’ll cover this as well as whether it is better to struggle through a workout or bail early, what is the definition of “junk miles” and if they have a place in training, and much more.

Join us live tomorrow at 8:00am Pacific for Episode 291 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast, or catch it afterward on YouTube or your favorite podcast app!

YouTube Video:

Topics Covered in This Episode

  • Introduction 0:00
  • New Year’s Resolutions for the hosts 4:23
  • What is an ideal power curve like? 16:46
  • How to use power data for mountain bikers 31:48
  • Is it better to struggle or fail a workout? 49:02
  • Heart rate vs. RPE-based training 1:07:20
  • Why some plans don’t have ramp tests at the end of the plan 1:10:34
  • Best cycling-related Christmas gifts 1:11:47
  • How to pace the climbs at Leadville 1:15:23
  • How to build a race calendar 1:19:24
  • Skiing for cross-training 1:20:46
  • What are junk miles? 1:22:50
  • Are bananas and dates good fuel for cycling? 1:30:22
  • Weight goals vs. performance goals 1:45:00

Studies and Resources Referenced in This Episode

To be added after the episode is recorded.

TrainerRoad Podcast Network

Submit your Question to the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Subscribe to the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Subscribe to the Successful Athletes Podcast

Submit your story to the Successful Athletes Podcast


The topics seem very promising.
I’m especially looking forward to the “Weight goals vs. performance goals”, since weight management seems to be in the minds of many cyclists and athletes in general and since the thread Eating disorders help and support seemed to be quite popular.
Happy new year to everyone at TrainerRoad!


@jonathan and crew - 291 was great. Since there’s so much interest in nutrition, are there any plans to add a nutritionist to the podcast? Great work and happy new year.


Thanks! Nutrition, in particular, is a simple concept in terms of principle, but very complex in terms of execution. We’ll continue to adhere to principles that simultaneously promote health and performance, and continue plan to bring on knowledgeable people (like Pete + Nutrition) in various fields.


Great podcast. Really enjoyed the input of all.

Good luck Pete, if I’m picking up what you’re putting down, I’ll enjoy more TrainerRoad refer videos as you explore all the racing options.

Two questions for @AlexWild do you get endorsed by USAC for entry into the World Cup, or is it open entry if you have a team? Secondly, will you be racing for Orange Seal, or the new TrainerRoad MTB team?

1 Like

This fuel will be consumed in its natural state.


I am super stoked to listen to this one. In an effort to hit certain goals in attempting to lose 10lbs while increasing strength and my ftp. This isn’t very easily done, so I’m doing it slowly.


I :heart: your laugh @IvyAudrain


Good episode as always, would be good for the team to define what a ‘failed’ workout out is to help provide context, as this may be interpreted differently by many.

Cheers for a great episode


My junk miles definition: riding where the physiological cost outweighs the physiological gains.

E.g. you do hard efforts up hills, and your legs hurt, but the efforts are too far apart to properly tax the cardiovascular system. Or you do lots of threshold, but never more than 2 or 2 minutes at a time.

(But like the guys, I think it has its place. In summer 2020, with no races, I allowed myself 4 weeks of unstructured riding, just going on feel, chasing PRs, trying new routes etc. Was a good mental reset.)


Not mentioned from what I saw, but this article is very useful to consider for workouts that are not going as planned.


Great goal @IvyAudrain - I’m on my 4th year of dry January. Let us know how you get along!


So many good nuggets in this episode, the U23 squad crushed it. The psychology of how to handle failed workouts was especially helpful and I always appreciate the MTB perspective from Alex (and Jonathan!).

Also, I have to just say that Ivy’s laugh is the best! Hearing her laugh makes me smile every time, so infectious. Great work TR crew. Thank you and Happy New Year!


Great episode. I’ve been struggling with riding outside during this unseasonable warm winter and doing my TR indoor workout. Last week I tried and outdoor workout as part of a larger ride and it was a total failure. For a 1 hour 20 min prescribed SS ride I totaled 5 minutes of SS over a 3 hour ride. Im sure it was my choice of route/terrain incompatibility. So do I ride what/where I want to ride? Or try to do a “workout” outdoors as part of the ride with limited success?

I listened to Johnathan’s interview on another podcast this week where he touch on the difference between a “ride” and “training.” He also talked about it in this podcast as well.

I think for me, I’m going to stick with a “Soul Ride” (thanks Pete) every week with no attempt at a “workout.” I think Im also going to try to hit 3 key workouts per week, again thanks Pete, and not feel bad about leaving some of the Mid Volume workouts undone. Today’s ride motto was “Im just riding, not training.”

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.


Since I heard him referenced on the episode I’ll just drop a link here to Tim Podlogar’s Instagram account. Most of the action is in his stories.

I liked the under-23 team :+1:

1 Like

I use roughly the same definition, the main offender I see is long (60-90+min) Z1 rides. Too long to be a recovery ride but not intense enough to be considered an endurance ride. If you smash some hills but keep it at z2 between hills or z2 with threshold bursts, I would consider that an okay endurance ride, not junk miles.

A lot of group rides end up being ‘junk miles’ for me. Too much z1 to be considered an endurance ride, not a structured interval session, too long and too much intensity to be considered recovery.

Thank you for answering my question on this Episode! Pete, I think hit the nail on the head with my biggest struggle. And that has been telling myself o well when I get down to my goal weight that’s when I can go to maintenance kcals and then I can focus on performance, rather than just focus on performance first and let the weight go where it needs to go. Looking back I don’t know where the 200 goals came from even… my original goal when I started was just to get under 250, but the weight kept coming off so then I said ok 220, and I got below that, and I was ok… new goal 200 but that hasn’t happened but I have gotten so focused on that number. After listening I think chasing that 350+ FTP is a better number to shoot for vs the under 200lbs club.


I think this was a great discussion regarding weight vs. performance goals, but I do think that it would be helpful to have a wider perspective when it comes to riders at varying FTPs and fueling workouts. For instance, Alex said that fueling at 80-100 grams of carbs/hour is equivalent at riding at ~140 average power for an hour, which he presumed would leave an excess of kJ burned for most riders. However, as a small rider with a lower FTP, this actually describes a lot of my workouts, and I can imagine it would for others as well. So if I fuel my rides well, it does make nutrition throughout the rest of the day a little more restricted because I break even on my rides.


Thanks for the support! Four days in and I honestly feel so much better already. Im getting much more restful sleep, and waking up feeling much fresher!

Now my struggle is wondering how I carry this into the rest of the year… like not drinking ever isnt a realistic goal for me, but its clear that even 2-3 drinks a week has a negative impact, so I have to figure out if it’s realistic to have a goal of one drink a week, or rather, how to adapt this into a lifestyle change so that Im not setting myself up to feel guilt when I do decide to have a beer.
Tricky. :sweat: