I think the issue is that there is unstructured in the sense of how trainerroad works. And unstructurednin the sense of how training works.
As an example…if you go out for a 1 hour ride, and ride easy, but do 6 3 minute efforts at 120% ftp, that is every bit as structured as anything trainerroad itself would prescribe in a plan. And, your body identifies if as such, while trainerroad does not.
As an aside…I wish there were a way to select lower volume of INTENSITY plan with trainerroad. Using low volume when adding additional work (in retrospect…) only seems to make any sense when all the work you’re adding is easy.
We actually agree with you here – structured workouts don’t necessarily have to be from the TR Workout Library.
Custom workouts and workouts from other coaches/coaching companies certainly are structured workouts! They may not always “play nice” with TR’s Workout Levels (and thus athlete Progression Levels), but we definitely wouldn’t call something like the 4x30’ workout you described “unstructured.”
When we use the term “unstructured,” we mean rides without any defined intervals or efforts to do. Your example of heading out with some friends on a Saturday morning and seeing how you feel would be what we call an unstructured ride.
As for what the TR team is working on – that remains Workout Levels V2, which will be a big step forward when it comes to incorporating structured non-TR workouts and unstructured rides into our Adaptive Training system. We don’t have an ETA at the moment, but I promise it’s still our top priority!