Will these Outdoor mountain bike rides work with Polarized Plan?

Hi,
Very new to TR also fairly new to indoor structured training. I only ride mountain bike/gravel trails and do so 99% of the time on trails near my house. In the past I just used indoor training without much structure to get some training in when the weather was bad. Now, I’m really trying to stick to a structured Polarized plan to try to improve my 225 FTP over the winter. I’d like to be able to ride outdoors weather permitting for my intensity training. The trails here are primarily fire roads with a lot of pretty steep elevation gain that is fairly extended. Not really suitable for zone 1 endurance efforts. I’m hoping they can work for the intensity training though.
Again, I’m brand new sticking to specific structured workouts. I’m used to tracking power and HR data on my cross country and gravel bike but generally just ride as hard as I’m up to on any given day outside based on the terrain. Please take a look at these two recent outdoor rides and tell me if this will conflict with my Polarized training plan?
I tried experimenting with loading the planned outdoor TR workout to my 1030 to see if they might at all align with my two main outdoor workout routes. It for sure did not align very well. It’s pretty clear that some sections require more above FTP effort than the VO2 interval workouts called for. Will this hinder my progress? It also has a wide range of zone 1 and zone 2 efforts mixed in as well it seems…would this also conflict with the goal of working a Polarized plan?
Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated? I’m open to trying something completely different and or really just riding indoors all winter if needed to improve. I’m very fortunate to have new dedicated indoor smart bike now. It’s not nearly as much fun as suffering outside on the hills though. Thanks in advance for reading my long post.

My understanding of polarized is hard days hard, easy days easy. These ride look like they are the opposite of that. It’s a bit of everything. If you really want the best outcome to a training plan you have to really stick to it in my opinion.

That said, I also believe that rides like these can be really good to just stay motivated and enjoy riding your bike. It’s all about finding that balance. As long as they don’t negatively effect your hard days from the plan, I see no real problem.

1 Like

I did the polarised plans this summer. Here’s a sample workout that I did outdoors, check out the power profile - https://www.trainerroad.com/app/career/bobw/rides/112511666-withington. The efforts were on a long hill, the warm up and cool down on a rolling section of road.

1 Like

That workout seems like you were able to much more closely match the intention of the TR goal. It seems like the two main rides I like to do are not going to align very closely with the workouts TR is recommending for my intensity days. I’m going to see if I can get creative and maybe find a shorter loop or something that I can repeat to get the more consistent interval structure being recommended. That said, it’s pretty important for my mental health that I ride outside when possible…especially during winter.

I’d say it depends on how often you do these rides. If its every now and again just count one of these as one of the hard rides and make sure you do enough easy rides before you do another ride like one of these or a Vo2max workout. If you are doing these all the time instead of your hard rides then you probably won’t get quite the progress you want but you’ll probably enjoy yourself more. Don’t forget though, most of the adaptations come from the long easy rides in a polarised plan. Keep those easy and you won’t go far wrong

1 Like

I find the hardest part in planning outdoor workouts is matching the terrain to the intent of the workout. My PB on that climb/Strava segment is 13mins, the workout called for 16min intervals, there was a short section that continued afterwards so I managed 14-15mins for the interval. If it had been a longer hill I could have just ridden for the 16mins then turned round. Sometimes you need to extend the recovery bits in order to get back to the start of the section you are doing the intervals on.

I live in a very hilly area, I’ve a 30km loop with 1100m of ascent for example, finding terrain for a 20min Z2 interval is nigh on impossible, we just don’t do flat or steady grades here in the north of England.

1 Like

Well, it was the last sunny day for awhile here and I decided to do the indoor workout instead based on this feedback. Black Pine, it was not very difficult but Garmin thinks it raised my VO2 Max from 53 to 54 so I guess that’s something. Gonna trust the plan and keep working out indoors. I may sub in some outdoor rides at some point if things dry out around here and I need some sunshine.

I have been doing the polarized plans, or variations of them since June this year. I did a good amount of the z2 Rides on single track with my mountain bike. I recommend trying these rides first. I used power at first but really ended up relying on Heart Rate more for the Z2 rides. If you hit a punchy hill walk or lower your cadence and watch your heart rate. My heart would bump into tempo for a few seconds or a few minutes but I wouldn’t worry to much about it. It was nice not having to worry about loading workouts or finding correct loops to do the interval training. I did a lot of outdoor rides this year doing this and never felt like I was missing a progression like I did with the sweet spot plans.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing your experience.

What kind of gains have you seen?

sorry but I’m not sure if I can quantify my gains. I stop taking FTP Tests because It stopped having meaning for me. I do almost all of my rides at Z2 so its hard to see any PR’s. I had one race but had a mechanical immediately. I feel great though, I get on my bike 6 days a week and never feel tired or feel any dread about doing a workout. IT brought me up to 4 w/kg maybe a tad higher if I tested FTP.

The only thing I felt was missing was mountain bike riding at race pace. Next year I will add more race simulations on single-track into the regular training.