I've read about all sorts of road cycling training techniques and various sciences behind them. However, when i go out to ride i sometimes just go with the gut feeling and end up doing the same intervals or sometimes just straight up riding at a steady pace. I feel like if i do listen to what my body wants i end up using effective training methods while enjoying myself way more than if i had to force myself to do something.
Question is, am i sort of just fooling myself with this, and should i really stick to a schedule with specific activities each ride of the week?
Yeah, you're fooling yourself. Body-sensations and feelings are caused by hormones & chemicals in your brain. These changes daily, even hourly with exercise. Going by such motivations will cause you to head in random directions. Think about how you feel at the beginning of a ride compared to 3-hours later.
To really get optimal improvements, you should define a performance goal a year in advance. Then work backwards and devise a training-programme to get that result. Have intermediate short-term goals each month to verify whether you're on the right rack. Modify and fine-tune training-prgramme along the way as need.
your short term feelings might not match up with your long term goals.
for example, during my first season of racing, i started doing intervals really early on. i had really no base miles but they felt really good. and i got better very fast. but, as the season wore on, riders kept getting stronger and stronger and i couldn't compete by mid summer.
my next season, i spent 4 full months doing base miles. in the 20 degree temps, i'd be out there riding around in the dark. my body definitely didn't want that! but when it came time to do intervals, i was so much faster. races were easier and i had plenty of room for improvement.
you have to find a balance. strict training via a schedule can be a drag, but not following at least some plan will make you a very average rider.