Cycling Apps

TrainerRoad Adds Plan Builder. Here is My First Look

TrainerRoad recently released a new update to their training plans allowing athletes to build their own custom training plan for a future event(s). This update was released a few weeks ago, precisely on December 4th.

TrainerRoad is known for its library of workouts and plans designed for cyclist and multisport athletes. Up until this update, these plans were made of 4 to 12-week blocks and organized by discipline, volume, and phase. So you have to piece your own plan together for your target event and understand how each phase work and the proper way to transition between phases.

The new plan builder will make this process much easier for you. You will go through a series of questions about your current fitness, upcoming event(s) and it will build a full custom plan for you up to your target race. If you don’t have any future event, it will just build a custom plan to make or keep you as fit as possible up to your target date or a full year-long plan.

I gave this feature a try and built a full custom plan for a future event that I am not signed up for yet. I kind of want to signup for it but have a commitment issue lately (with races).

Either way, here is how it went.

BUILDING MY PLAN

You can find the new Plan Builder under your Calendar by pressing on the big blue “+” button at the bottom right of the screen or just select Training Plan from the left menu and then Plan Builder.

The first question you will face is how many hours per week you have been training for the last six weeks. It’s important to be honest here. If you think you’ve been training 10+ hours per week and go with the high volume, but in reality, you’ve been doing only 4-5 hours then you might end up easily falling off your training schedule, overtraining or injured. And no, eating holiday cookies doesn’t count as training.

VOLUME

In the next step, you will be asked how much time can you dedicate to training. Keep in mind that these times are cycling-specific. If you plan on doing a multi-sport event, then add a few hours to account for swimming and running. I picked the recommended Mid Volume and you will see below how my weekly volume will be closer to 10-11 hours than the 3-7 hours per week showing here.

I think TR should ask about my preferred discipline first to accurately show the volume in this step.

TrainerRoad will recommend a volume for you based on your selection in the previous step. If you try to go higher than the recommended volume, you will get a friendly message to confirm your selection.

EXPERIENCE

In the next step, you will be asked about your experience with interval training. This will affect how the plan will assign each phase. If you are a beginner, you will spend more time Base training than in the specialty phase.

After that, you will be asked to choose the plan start date. If you’ve been training already, you can pick a date in the past and it will account for those days.

EVENTS

The plan allows you to add your events. You can opt-out of events if you have nothing scheduled and TrainerRoad will build a full year plan for you. You can also add events later but it’s probably best to add at least your A race here.

When you click on the Add Event button, a new form will pop up where you enter the event information and details.

Under event type, you will be given a ton of options. This is what really makes TrainerRoad so unique compared to other cycling platforms out there particularly Zwift. It’s like having a buffet of coaches for any cycling related discipline you want.

Each one of these options will go into more details. For example, if you select triathlons, you will be asked to enter information about expected swim time, bike time, and run time.

Then there is this intensity box which is kind of strange to me. I sort of understand the purpose behind it but the choices are also strange. Or maybe I just never really participated in a scheduled “Recovery” type event. And then an “All Out” option! Hmm.. how is that different than “Race Pace”? For me, the only choice that makes sense out of this drop-down menu is “Race Pace” and the rest are just confusing. But maybe It’s just my own mindset as I consider each event a “race”.

The reason behind the expected finish time and intensity is to estimate your TSS and integrate it into the plan. This might not be as important for your final goal event but it can impact your plan for other mid-season type events. TrainerRoad plans aren’t dynamic, meaning the plan will not auto-adjust based on what you did the previous day, week, or month. The plan will be built based on the information you input when you create it and it will estimate your training stress score.

Once the plan is built, you can add more events directly from your calendar and it will integrate it into the plan.

Moving on. Once you add all your events, now you can see and customize your training schedule. If you prefer to do a certain type of workout on a certain day of the week, you can do that here. For example, the plan had me do swims on Tuesdays so I moved the swims to Wednesdays instead.

For cycling workouts, you can select to do them inside or outside. If you opt for outside, it will automatically sync to your synced Garmin Edge device or Wahoo Elemnt bike computer.

You can even customize your training days for each block. Just check the “Customize training for each block” option and it will expand each block and you can drag and drop training days around the way you like to fit your schedule. Pretty neat!

When done, TrainerRoad will build the plan for you and you can review it before it’s final and added to your calendar.

Interestingly, TrainerRoad even added a recovery week after my scheduled A event with some easy recovery type workouts.

Depending on how much time you have to train, the plan will start with the Base Phase, then go into Build, then it might go back to Base 2 phase, then Build or Specialty phase. With my plan and since my A race is way in the future, it had me go from Base Phase 1, to Build Phase 1, then back to Base Phase 2 which is only 5-weeks in length instead of 8 before entering into the Specialty Phase in the last 8-weeks.

What about time off? or what if you get sick during your training? Right now, the plan is not designed to account for time off or sick days. However, according to TrainerRoad, they are working on the ability to add and integrate time off into the plan.

Overall, I think this update is a significant one for TrainerRoad. The ability to allow athletes to plan out their season this way is something most training platforms have been lacking.

Give it a try and let me know what your thoughts.

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