When to start, and which volume

I started structured training last year and did the low volume base i/ii, as well as some of build last year. I’d ideally like to finish build by the time the first races come around. I just recently got a smart trainer, tested it out, and am ready to start training.

I live in an area where it’s cold in the winter, and October is the last real month of group rides, etc that are actually attended by more than 2 people in my area. I don’t want to mentally burn out (although I’m really excited about training, etc) so I’m hesitant to skip out on these rides in the name of structured training.

To finish build by when I want to, I need to start SSB 1 next week basically. I have around 5-6 hours a week to ride and have done the TSS from mid volume in the past (based on tracking in goldencheetah).

My options:

  1. Ditch the group riding, etc and just jump into SSB MV I. Pros: most structured. Cons: Miss out on riding outside with friends, possible (?) mental burnout 5 months down the line (but I like riding the trainer so not sure how true this will be)

  2. Schedule SSB LV I, and then once I finish it, add SSB MV II, and Build MV. Add in an extra ride or two. Pros: Get to have my cake and eat it too (structured training + messing around on rides). Cons: Not as strong of a base for SSB II and Build.
    -> Side question about this: Would it harm my base to do junk mile type rides? For example, doing SSB I and also doing a CX practice.

  3. Starting MV SSB later. Pros: get to enjoy the last 2-3 weeks of good weather. Cons: Don’t finish build by my first events.

Which option would you choose? Is mental burnout real even if I really enjoy the trainer (in a unique way) now? I know people that have done exclusively trainerroad for 6 months, so not sure which category I’m in.

For reference, I am a cat 4/C collegiate racer looking to do well in collegiate races and some early season domestic ones.

Man I can’t tell you how many super strong kids I beat up on because they have no tactical smarts, patients, ability to read the race, can’t corner or handle the bike in strong cross winds etc…

It’s great new riders have so many resources these day to “train” more efficiently than ever before. Thank you TR and others. I mean that. What an amazing resource. Takes all the guess work out and the absolute next best thing to a coach. But, putting so much faith in metrics and worrying about missing a workout in leu of a group ride is silly IMO. I wish everyone would ride more fast race style group rides. Being fit is important. Being able to apply it and exploit others fitness is equally important. Above all else, learning to ride super fast/hard/on the limit while being safe and aware of what’s going on is best learned on the road.


I get the importance of that, which is why I went to things like a practice crit every week this year (until it got cut off). What I mean by group rides in this context isn’t race simulations, but rather noodling around with a sprint in the middle.

Both. Do a TR session before the group ride then.

I would keep to the group rides as long as they’re viable and you’re enjoying them. So Option 2. Mental burnout is definitely real, though whether it affects you and how badly is something you’re going to have to find out over this winter! Personally I have always had to include some outdoor riding all year round whatever climate I’m living in, whether that’s going out on the MTB in the ice and snow with lots of layers, or going out on the road bike at 4am in hot countries where it’s hitting >40C. The only caveat to that is that your group ride doesn’t sound great if it really is just noodling around with a sprint. For base I try to find group rides which are fast and/or hilly enough that pulls on the front are solid tempo/sweetspot efforts, and sitting in the group is around Z2 other than on descents and maybe some tailwind sections.

Re your side question it depends what you mean by junk miles. CX practice doesn’t sound like junk miles. Extra noodling around miles don’t hurt your base, unless they’re eating into your training time so that you can’t train as much. I.e. if the plan is to do 6 hours of structured base training and then you add 2 hours of noodling around on top of that it’s fine, but if those 2 hours of noodling mean you now only have time for 4 hours of structured training that’s detrimental.


Your CX training is a million miles from junk, if your honing skills etc. The bike handling alone will be invaluable.

Personally I always go low volume and add additional workouts. This gives be flexibility and removes the mental stress of thinking that I should be on the trainer.

With regards to the group rides, why don’t you take the lead? Plan routes that involve more climbing or add sprints for certain signs. This is what l’ve done and other riders seem to respond well to variety.

I guess you’re right. I was more thinking in terms of doing a bunch of anaerobic bursts of power during base when i typed it up, and didn’t think about that.

The bursts will do you no harm either.

A number of TR users note that Sweetspot Base contains very little exposure to that type of effort. If you can incorporate a structured VO2 or sprint session into your base, you’ll be building a solid foundation for the work ahead.

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If I was in his shoes I’d go get drunk and chase whatever gender most excited me…but then again 18-22 year old me made some regrettable life choices


Keep the group rides and add some structure with the trainer. The trainer and structure around it is to augment your outdoors rides, not replace them. Endurance rides should be done out doors along with shorter efforts close to or above FTP. The hard efforts, 150+% are better on the trainer, they’re difficult to hold out doors, same with the 20 minute 80%+ efforts. Other than, use the trainer as a tool rather than the only source.

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