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coaching and training for an average road rider

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coaching and training for an average road rider

Old 11-19-20, 10:02 AM
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ilovebiking
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coaching and training for an average road rider

I am an older, age-group-competitive road rider. I am not going to win the tour but I would like to be as good as I can. I would be interested in some type of reasonable cost, on-line training program, with say a virtual coach, just to help me stay on a consistent program. There are tons of different programs out there, from all the free workouts on Zwift and Trainer Road, to expensive personalized programs with well-known coaches.

I was hoping that I might get some advice from other road cyclists who could recommend a lower-cost (doesn't need to be free) training program and coach, and what your success stories might be.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-19-20, 10:21 AM
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WhyFi
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Have you done anything like the Trainer Road or Sufferfest programs without coaching input? If so, were the results not satisfactory? I'm just not sure what the additional cost of checking in remotely with a coach is going to do for you. Are you just looking for someone to hold you accountable to your schedule?

Back to TR and Sufferfest, out of the two, I prefer Sufferfest mostly because my power curve is a bit unusual and I find the workouts to be better tailored to my strengths/weaknesses with their 4DP approach (as opposed to scaling all of the efforts off of FTP).
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Old 11-19-20, 10:43 AM
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What does “lower cost” mean? $10/mo? $100/mo? $500/mo?
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Old 11-19-20, 11:11 AM
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How quick do you have to be the best that you can be? For me, just applying basic interval training methods to my rides with out obsessing over planning them to boredom and minutiae and allowing for improvement over the years works well.

But if that's not you, then
Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
What does “lower cost” mean? $10/mo? $100/mo? $500/mo?
The above is important.

Oh, yeah, quantity of miles riding can make up for lack of detailed training plans...... somewhat.

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Old 11-19-20, 11:42 AM
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I like to read and apply some widely accepted "best practices" and construct a rough training plan for myself based on what races I'm going to do next (that's been fun in 2020, heh). Also I've occasionally used Strava's training plans which are reasonably well thought out and pretty conventional (which is a plus).

​​​​Even if you draw up your training plans right, the difference between a coach and various training platforms or plans is that a coach keeps you accountable to a greater degree, and there's some feedback going on and someone to ask for advice.

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Old 11-19-20, 12:08 PM
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How useful is Sufferfest if you aren't particularly interested in baselining and improving your Sprint? It's not something I use during my normal rides (don't race) and while I understand improving that will have net impact (even if small) on other areas, it's just not something I'd care to focus on (plus, inside on a trainer, doesn't seem like something I want to do). Can you "ignore" that piece of the 4DP and just focus on the other 3?
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Old 11-19-20, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
How useful is Sufferfest if you aren't particularly interested in baselining and improving your Sprint? It's not something I use during my normal rides (don't race) and while I understand improving that will have net impact (even if small) on other areas, it's just not something I'd care to focus on (plus, inside on a trainer, doesn't seem like something I want to do). Can you "ignore" that piece of the 4DP and just focus on the other 3?
My short answer would be: if you're not interested in 4DP, I'd just look elsewhere - it's really their defining aspect.

The slightly longer answer: I suppose that you could ignore it in your workouts, avoiding sessions that have those components, but the actual test is laid out in a manner that relies on the shorter duration tests/efforts up front to empty the tank before your FTP test. If you don't bury yourself in those 1 and 5min efforts, you're going to get an artificially inflated FTP.

Last edited by WhyFi; 11-19-20 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:30 PM
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Old 11-19-20, 12:37 PM
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I've been self-coached for 25 years. I'm one of those weirdos who wants to learn to do everything for themselves instead of paying people who know more that I do and will do a better job of it. Oh well, just how it is. I've focused on trying hard to be the best I can be, but I don't have any data, only personal anecdotes Even after 25 years, I don't know enough about what I'm doing. I can tell if something worked or not, sure, but only next year when I look at my results.

It's not accountability I would value in a coach. I have that in myself. I'd value someone who knew better than I what doing X would do for Y under condition Z for individual A and be correct about that prediction. When one is pushing fitness up as hard as they can, one runs into yellow flags a lot.

As above, a coach can tailor your program to your goals. I've never seen a canned program that worked for my year's schedule and types of rides I do.

None of these desires of mine would be satisfied by anything other than a live coach with at least weekly feedback, biweekly probably better. It's like typing this. I type and expect to see what I typed on my screen. Substitute training, coach, and results for this analogy.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
My short answer would be: if you're not interested in 4DP, I'd just look elsewhere - it's really they're defining aspect.

The slightly longer answer: I suppose that you could ignore it in your workouts, avoiding sessions that have those components, but the actual test is laid out in a manner that relies on the shorter duration tests/efforts up front to empty the tank before your FTP test. If you don't bury yourself in those 1 and 5min efforts, you're going to get an artificially inflated FTP.
I would do the 1 and 5 minute effort. It's the 10 s sprints I'd avoid/not be interested in focusing on.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by am0n View Post
I would do the 1 and 5 minute effort. It's the 10 s sprints I'd avoid/not be interested in focusing on.
Ah. Go for it, I guess. I'd just loaf (relatively) through that on the test, then, and those kinds of efforts didn't pop up that often in the rides, that I can recall.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:56 PM
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My experience with coaching was $100/mo was too expensive for what they usually offer vs what my needs given my level. Honestly, you are not going to get anything more if you get a coach than a Trainerroad or Zwift plan for that price. I just checked and saw that there are gazillion training plans on the TrainingPeaks. Some cost as low as $5 no kidding!.

In my experience, there wasn't much personal interaction. Maybe my expectations were too high but man $1,200/year is not chump change for me. Coaches I worked with didn't spend time looking at my power files and didn't get a lot of feedback other than "You have a new 5s all-time power personal best, great job". They didn't seem to care much. One of them totally mailed it in until I asked him if he quit and didn't send me an update. Credit to him he gave me a refund for the final three months. There are a bunch of good coaches that I follow online and I like their approach to cycling in general. I won't share them here though. When the time is right I will probably hire a new one. Until then I will post my questions here, read articles online, and find my own path.

I think you should give a real coach a try and see how it goes. There's no other way to find out.
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Old 11-19-20, 12:58 PM
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Thanks for all the input so far, gives me something to think about. For cost, I could handle maybe $100/mo. For time, I was thinking of 3 months of indoor training, Jan-Feb-March. For my location, that would bring me right up to the start of outdoor riding.

What I was hoping for beyond what the canned workouts such as in Zwift give you, would be some feedback specific to me. For example, how should my HR respond, what cadence is best, how can I measure improvements. Maybe I cant get all that for my rough cost, I just don't know. Looking for recommendations. I value other riders experiences.

Again, thanks for the feedback, I think it will be useful to many riders.
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Old 11-19-20, 01:04 PM
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In NorCal, $100/mo would get you a very bare-bones coaching package, not much more feedback than you'd get from a canned program on TP or Zwift.
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Old 11-19-20, 01:42 PM
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Register for the TrainerRoad Forum

Go to this thread; TrainerRoad Referral Code Requests & Sharing - They will give you a code for a free month trial of Trainer Road. Listen to their "Ask a Cycling Coach" Podcast. It's weekly and they give a ****-ton of advice on more things than you can imagine.

I'm sure Zwift and Sufferfest have free trials as well. I've used just about every single training app out there. I like TR's the best for guided workouts. Work with the most amount of trainers and head units and is simple to use and follow. Their apps and support are top notch.

I'd only get a coach if you can afford one with bi-weekly contact by phone or Zoom or something like that, a TrainingPeaks account (for you) and that will do a complete custom plan. You can also buy off the shelf plans from coaches and get some feedback as well, like these here; Fascat Coaching. Ideally for a coach you want them to watch your training, make sure you're hitting the power levels at the correct intensity and duration and most of all to listen to what your goals are and guide your training towards that goal.

Just start with one of these self guided plans for now and see how get along. Once you get more used to structured training you can pick a path.

I build baseline workouts in Training Peaks (Z2, Z3, SS, Z4, Z5, and Z6) and then adjust depending on where I am in the season. You can build workouts with a free TrainingPeaks account and push them to your head unit (Garmin or Wahoo and others I think). With a free account you can only sync that days workout (which is easy to do and never a problem). Then you just ride the workout on your head unit (I have a Wahoo Bolt and it will control my trainer with FE-C and others like Garmin do this as well). So it's possible to do structured training for very little money if you're budget conscious-lol assuming you've already spent thousands on a bike, head unit and smart trainer of course. "Budget" lol.

You might find that you need the entertainment of the game atmosphere of Zwift. Or the videos and music of Sufferfest to motivate you. I just follow the intervals on my head unit and watch old races, or PC game "lets play videos" on YouTube with a 42" TV in front of my bike.

I had pretty good success (lots of PR's) when I did a TR program over the winter into spring of 2018. I'm doing my own program and plan right now with the knowledge I've gained over the last few years.

Good luck!

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Old 11-19-20, 04:30 PM
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Not to be shilling anything on here but I've been in this program since the beta (3rd year coming up). It's an interesting concept for scaling up coaching. I've found it quite effective on its own with an added benefit of learning a ton that I apply to being self coached the rest of the season. It's changed how I look at progression amongst other things.

Not sure if there are still openings. I believe there are a couple of similar out there now.

https://basecampcycling.wixsite.com/basecamp
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Old 11-19-20, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
Not to be shilling anything on here but I've been in this program since the beta (3rd year coming up). It's an interesting concept for scaling up coaching. I've found it quite effective on its own with an added benefit of learning a ton that I apply to being self coached the rest of the season. It's changed how I look at progression amongst other things.

Not sure if there are still openings. I believe there are a couple of similar out there now.

https://basecampcycling.wixsite.com/basecamp
Interesting. How much training do you do with the group (remotely) as opposed to riding outside by yourself? I've been doing a canned Zwift program where I'll try to do as many outside as the weather and my schedule allow, so I was curious if that kind of approach works with Base Camp.
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Old 11-19-20, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Interesting. How much training do you do with the group (remotely) as opposed to riding outside by yourself? I've been doing a canned Zwift program where I'll try to do as many outside as the weather and my schedule allow, so I was curious if that kind of approach works with Base Camp.
Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are always with the group. There are meetups most other days. And some Zwift events or races a few of us will hit., I usually do the longer weekend rides outside if the weather permits. There is a very active Facebook group with a lot of interaction daily. It’s fun seeing someone else’s ride picked apart, gives a lot of insight.

edit: another highlight last winter was following some of Amber Neben's prep for what was supposed to be an Olympic year. Her CTL and attention to detail were inspiring and humbling.

Last edited by Voodoo76; 11-19-20 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 11-21-20, 11:26 AM
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I've been working with a coach for the past few months. I don't race anything besides TTs, and I enjoy long distance rides. I have a hefty goal of a sub 5 hour 112 mile TT or a sub 4:40 100 mile TT (going to depend on what happens in 2021). Prior to working with my coach as a coach, I was participating in his zoom turbo sessions twice/week. The zoom turbo sessions are included in my coaching package, and the Thursday session is usually part of my weekly plan (Thursday is an FTP builder session). In addition to Thursday, I tend to go to the Saturday endurance sessions as well (even if I have a different workout- mics are usually unmuted on a Saturday so there's always a bit of banter in between efforts), and usually have 1-2 other sessions that are not hosted on zoom every week (depending if I have a zwift race or not). He also incorporates various things to work on during my commutes- such as low rpm work, spin ups, out of the saddle efforts. I enjoy having a coach, as he holds me accountable, not only making sure I'm completing my workouts, but also to make sure I'm not going too hard on efforts or going to hard on my commutes during a recovery week. I also have a strength and conditioning program included. Even though I've only been working with him in a coaching capacity since September, I've already seen a decent improvement. On TT efforts, I'm consistently hitting the higher end of my target range, which is now above threshold into VO2 max territory for the same perceived effort (based on comparing my heart rate and power to efforts from August/September time). As I'm just on the basic coaching plan, quarterly FTP tests are not included, but I may request one- even if I just do it on my own using the test on my wahoo or zwift. Anyway, enough of my rambling- I've seen the benefit of having a coach. I enjoy having a coach, and am definitely seeing an improvement.
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