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Outdoor Workout Substitutions Q&A

A series of common questions regarding outdoor rides routinely crop up over the course of each training season, so here are a few answers to some of the more frequent inquiries:


Q: Can I do some of my workouts outdoors?

A: Yes, but the more technical in nature the workouts are, and the more difficult and intense they become, e.g. VO2 Max, Anaerobic; the more likely it is that you'll get much higher workout quality by performing them indoors in a more controlled, distraction-free training environment. The more general and lower in intensity, e.g. Endurance, Tempo; the workouts are, the easier it is to effectively accomplish the work outdoors.

 

Q: Will the quality of my workout suffer if I choose to do it outdoors?

A: In some ways, yes. The number of distractions thrown at you when you're on the road can have a noticeable impact on the quality of even your easier workouts and you can end up seeing less work, i.e. training stress, thanks to the forced downtime you'll experience at stop signs and traffic lights as well as interruptions that can come at you in many forms and from all directions. So if you're really intent on matching the indoor workout requirements, consider inflating the ride time to 1.3-1.7x the duration of the indoor intervals or overall duration depending on how distraction and interruption riddled your ride becomes. For example, a 1-hour indoor Endurance ride might need to be as long as 80-100 minutes in duration depending on how many times you have to slow or stop your bike.

 

Q: What if I don't have a power meter but I want to train outdoors?

A: This can actually be an excellent opportunity to start to learning to relate your perception (RPE/Rate of Perceived Exertion) to your power output and grow your ability to ride by feel. As you accumulate more indoor workouts with instantaneous feedback, your knowledge of sensation relative to exertion will grow. Put another way, you'll start to learn how a VO2 Max interval at 120% FTP feels, how it feels to stay under 85% FTP for an entire ride, what it feels like when you're pushing nearer and nearer to your FTP and your legs start to well up. This is the path of the well educated power-based rider, one who can estimate - with increasing accuracy over time - power output based on breathing, effort and muscle sensations. You can also train by HR, but letting a slippery metric like HR dictate your ride is an iffy proposition and HR should still be coupled with any other available information, e.g. RPE.

 

Q: Is there a way for me to upload my outdoor rides to TrainerRoad such that I can track my TSS through my Career page?

A: Not at this time, but it's certainly one type of functionality we're eager to bring to our users (and ourselves!) and it's only a matter of time. And while we can't say exactly when this feature will be implemented, we can say we're as eager as you are to have this capability.

 

Q: Can I count a race as a workout or should I do the workout after the race?

A: A race will almost always suffice as a replacement for a high-intensity workout and there is seldom (never?) a reason to do 2 intense workouts in the same day. Consider your race or truly demanding outdoor group ride as that day's high-intensity intervals. Also, be conscious of the type of stress prescribed by your indoor workout. If the workout calls for 6x3 VO2 Max intervals and you're racing a Tuesday night criterium or road race, make yourself attack the field or group 5 or 6 times for roughly 3 minutes. Not only is this the sort of stress that often results in winning, or at least impactful, moves but it's also a great way to explore your current capabilities in the context of the very thing for which you train - racing! Similarly, if the workout is 3x20 minutes of Tempo at 80% FTP, do your best to sit in and avoid the wind. Instead, practice positioning yourself in order to minimize the work, practice anticipating the movement of the field by watching the riders ahead, and learn to do only the bare minimum amount of work necessary to stay with the field or group.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Darren Eaton
    Just to clarify a point with outdoor rides adding 1.3 - 1.7x the stated ride time, as this could mean a lot of variance (and I don't like to throw away unnecessary minutes, haha!).. Likely up the volume for a long weekend ride around 1.3x if route is flowing, with minimal interference and/or stops, and more likely up to 1.7x if you were riding along a popular beach road or high traffic volume route where multiple 'stop & go' incidents are likely to occur.. I want to replace my Saturday rides with outdoor sessions in the full distance Tri plan, so volume increases at the meatiest part of the plan could be significant!
  • Avatar
    Mike Stead

    Come on guys, it's a YEAR ON and it's still not possible to do this? I understand you make money with people glued to turbos, but some of us have serious training goals AND want to ride outside a few times per week. Three hours on a turbo is just stupid, if it can be replicated outdoors, with caveats. Let the riders decide. Give us the option. Seriously, if you don't fix this soon I'll just give my money to TrainingPeaks.

  • Avatar
    brook anderson

    I agree with the comments from Mike above . Wanted to upload an outside ride today.

  • Avatar
    Daniel Lavoie

    How about giving us a realistic time frame to expect for the availability of "upload my outdoor rides to TrainerRoad" functionality? Is it really this technically challenging to implement?

  • Avatar
    Nicholas Kanwetz

    @Mike Stead, @Brook Anderson, @Daniel Lavoie:

    Hi all, we hear you guys and are very excited to say that we're working hard toward getting you this functionality soon. As far as getting y'all a definitive ETA, we're still not there yet. But I can assure everyone that the team is working to have the ability to import outdoor ride data in the coming outdoor season (N hemisphere). Our primary focus of 2016 was to revamp and redesign all platforms of our app, and now that we've completed that hefty task we're excited for what the new year will bring!

    Thank you all for your patience and continued support with us here at TrainerRoad. Looking forward to being extra fast for 2017! :)

  • Avatar
    Yavor Gerenski

    It would be awesome if you can also create downloadable .fit files for users to upload to their Garmin units when preferring to do outdoors workout. I do understand indoor training is much more precise but I like other users would love to spend as much time outside as I could when possible. Thanks.

  • Avatar
    Jocelyn Chappell

    Mmm, should imagine implementation of road part of trainerroad would allow for difference between ftp indoors and on road, such as is acknowledged elsewhere eg TrainingPeaks. For what its worth, I use a number of tools to measure training data, each offer key insights to different aspects of training.

  • Avatar
    T G

    Nicholas, as your team codes the function to upload outdoor rides, pls ensure we can upload previous rides, i.e., rides completed earlier in 2017. That way TR can become the "master" app for all my rides starting in 2017. Otherwise, a complete annual picture will not be available until 2018. Looking forward to this new functionality and hoping it arrives soon.

  • Avatar
    Ray Waugh

    Need an outdoor ride calculator that allows us to manually enter and substitute for indoor training rides. Very frustrating to do 4-6hours outdoor riding on the weekends not be be able to include in my training log.

  • Avatar
    Sandy Doull

    +1 this needs to be fixed I want the training plan I follow to include all of my workouts even non cycling would be good if only a basic tss comparison.

  • Avatar
    David Harris

    With spring on the way, it would be a real shame to not be able to upload longer outdoor rides to see my overall training results. For me this is critical functionality that needs to be addressed and open to all as soon as possible, even if it requires some debugging afterwards....

  • Avatar
    Reint Kunst

    Fully concur - I really hoped i could use trainnerroad as: the "master" app for all my rides starting in 2017"". Now I have to resort to strava, trainingpeaks and trainerroad...

  • Avatar
    Stephen Nash

    I have not tried it yet but.....what would happen if you just selected one of the free ride options in the app? It would record your outdoor ride and enter it into your weekly TSS, right?

  • Avatar
    Justin Tornow

    Are there any answers for yavor, I want to do this also.

  • Avatar
    Corey Croasdell

    Hey guys! I still can't give you an ETA on importing completed outdoor rides into TrainerRoad. We are making good progress though! We're really sorry for the wait here. We know this one has been in the works for awhile but we really want to make sure that we don't release a sub-par product.

    @Yavor @Justin Unfortunately, we don't have any plans to allow you to download .fit files onto your Garmin for you to ride outdoors. It may be something that we consider in the future but it isn't on our current road map as of now.

  • Avatar
    Paul Taylor

    Appreciate what's being said - but it doesn't need to be all singing and dancing app based and could be implemented very quickly. You already have editable fields in the online profile for individuals FTP and Weight. You already have the running Daily TSS in the database (seen on the Career page). It's pretty straight forward to make the users TSS an editable value in a data grid on the same page/grid and make the TR rides non editable.

  • Avatar
    Sander Värv

    I don't care that much about uploading my outdoor rides, but I would really like to upload a planned TR workout to my garmin. Anything longer than 1:30, I would prefer to do outside (TR weekend rides mostly). Right now it's a pain in the ass having to manually recreate the workouts in TrainingPeaks.

  • Avatar
    Darden Mueller

    @Sander At this time we don't have this type of feature, we are working on implementing outdoor integration but it is still in the works! If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to our Support team, support@trainerroad.com Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Charles Fellowes

    I was frustrated by this as well. Agree that a 2 hour ride on a turbo is a mission especially when you're doing outside rides. Yesterday, I tried choosing a 'Free Ride 150' from the workout list and tracked it on my iPhone. The battery lasted pretty well (used less than 20% over 120 mins and it worked with the phone in standby mode. FYI, I also managed to have my Garmin track the ride at the same time. The only thing that ended up missing was that I could only send HR data to one of them as Garmin is ANT+ whilst iPhone is bluetooth (there's not much that can be done about that). Both the Garmin and TR workouts got posted to my Strava, so I just deleted one of them. The ideal would be to import the ride from Garmin.
    By using the Trainer Road app, I managed to get a TSS score and IF data to plug in and contribute towards my training plan. You can also refer to the power zones to get an idea as to how similar your time in zones were to your prescribed training plan workout.
    I suppose that this will just about suffices as a workaround for the time being.
    The problem that I found was that if you want to assign it, it has to be IN PLACE of another workout. Ideally, you could assign it to a blank day, in case you wanted to do it IN ADDITION to the prescribed training plan.
    FYI, this is the net result of an outdoor FreeRide: https://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/rides/5532409-free-ride-150

  • Avatar
    Michael Nebelsick

    For what it's worth I would have to think it wouldn't be too hard to simply add a field on the Assign a Ride screen when you select Outdoor ride so you could manually input your TSS for your "replacement" ride... of course it would be better if you could upload your garmin or other tracking file as the replacement so you would have the whole record of your rides in TR... and that could come later, but couldn't we get a quick update in the meantime to at least let us track our TSS? I agree with Paul Taylor's earlier comment that it doesn't need to be "all singing and dancing" right out of the gate... give us something quickly that we can use and pretty it up later.

  • Avatar
    Matt Litwin

    Couldn't agree more with the above comments about a quick-add TSS field. Since mileage is kind of irrelevant indoors just being able to aggregate my TSS with a simple additive field would be a perfect substitute for a fancy new launch.

  • Avatar
    Darden Mueller

    @Charles @Michael @Matt We are working on outdoor integration! No set in stone ETA but the team is working hard to give you the ability to bring your outdoor ride data into TrainerRoad this outdoor riding season (N. Hemisphere). Stay tuned :-)

  • Avatar
    T G

    I'm glad to see Darden that TR plans to release this feature within the next ~six months. Please, don't let your guys code this without the ability to upload rides completed in 2017 prior to the release of the feature. Per my January 29 feedback to Nicholas...

    ... as your team codes the function to upload outdoor rides, pls ensure we can upload previous rides, i.e., rides completed earlier in 2017. That way TR can become the "master" app for all my rides starting in 2017. Otherwise, a complete annual picture will not be available until 2018. Looking forward to this new functionality and hoping it arrives soon.

  • Avatar
    Corey Croasdell

    @TG We definitely won't forget to add that feature! We're actually planning on allowing you to automatically import any rides that you already have uploaded to your Strava and Garmin connect accounts. We're also working on a few other ways to allow you to import rides from other platforms, so you shouldn't have any trouble uploading rides you've already completed in 2017 and even before :)

  • Avatar
    Stephen Nash

    I recorded an outdoor ride today with the app to see what would happen. It did recored the ride and add it to my weekly TSS. The problem is it would auto pause when I coasted and I live in a hilly area. All told it missed 5 miles of the ride as it was on auto pause. Over all it was some good and some bad. I'd say the upload feature would be ideal when it comes out.

  • Avatar
    Chad McNeese

    Stephen, go into your app settings and turn off "Start/Pause via Cadence".

    It won't really affect your TSS at all, but you will get the full ride.

  • Avatar
    Corey Croasdell

    @Stephen Chad's spot on here :-). If you turn off the feature that uses your cadence to start and stop your workout, you won't run into the problem with your workout pausing every time you coast.

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