TSS, CTL, ATL and TSB

Hi All

Like the awesome photo @stenard posted up on the power for IM bike thread, without hijacking that one, what sort of numbers do “they” say one should be aiming for leading up to a 70 .3 or 140.6 event?

Mine has dipped a lot since March, due to going back to work, and whilst it’s not too unsettling, I did like it when my CTL was hovering around 90!

Thanks in advance.

I don’t know what are the recommended stress levels, and I think it’s more a case of what you can take.

I only measure TSS at the moment, haven’t got head space for any other acronyms at the moment. My six week average is currently just over 300, runTSS is a bit arbitrary as I’m using an RPE scale I think that’s about 200 avg, swimTSS I don’t rate so I measure by volume, about 8000-9000m avg. I’m expecting a back of the field result at Lanza, but if I execute well I could make middle…and good execution is where my biggest gains will come from this year.

I’m currently at 249 TSS for the week; yesterday included a hard Zwift session. Today is a lot of soft commute pedalling/some paddling. Tomorrow I plan to drive into work, swim at lunch & longer run home; cycle in Fri am & OW swim in the afternoon on the drive home. Sunday is a very early ride by the looks of it.

As I have been self coaching this year, I have been doing lots of reading and analysis of my numbers, and have some observations. As I am getting fitter and faster, my FTP and LTR are improving, so an hour run at 5m/km used to give me a TSS of 75, now gives me a TSS of 50 (or less), same with the ride - you could say, just run or ride faster, but I guess like most, I have set run and bike routes, so am getting a lower TSS for the same route than I used to get.

As I ride to work 3 times a week, I get a base TSS of 400 per week, which makes a big difference for building a decent CTL. I also have a pretty consistent training schedule with certain activities on certain days, I think that my body responds well to routine

From Jan to March, I put in a lot of effort building CTL from 60 to 130ish - most of that time my TSB was in the range -25 to -35 (occasionally lower), which one could ague was over training, but most of this was lots of zone 2 miles on the bike, and didn’t leave me feeling too tired. since mid March my CTL has fluctuated between 125 and 135, but TSB has been -10 to -25, with a week over Easter where it was positive. Even last week, where I had a massive week, my TSB only dropped to -42, while my CTL went up to 141.

Ironically I feel more tired in the past month, where my CTL has been stable and TSB lower, as I have been doing more tempo work, zone 4 efforts and some races

I think that I will go into 70.3 Austria in 2.5 weeks time with a CTL around 120 and TSB of +20, but will be living off that bank of fitness that got me to a CTL of 141

I wrote a post for my site after a chat on IMJ about this when people were putting out all sorts of crap info. One guy even said he didn’t like swimming because it gave a lower TSS than running so he was detraining every time he swam! General consensus for IM is 100CTL+ but I only use CTL as a guide as overall TSS is heavily weighted to cycling. When you have a 100mile bike ride in the countryside matching the CTL you raced a marathon at and one leaves you walking backwards downstairs you cant worry too much about it. Listen to the body!

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Taking your average daily TSS over 6 weeks gives you a score of 300?
That’s impossible. You’re calculating TSS wrong if that’s the case. It’s not physically possible to do three full hours at threshold every single day for 6 weeks straight!

Or are you meaning weekly average? If so, then you need to divide by 7 to get numbers equivalent to what Poet and Matt are talking about. In which case you’d be at 43, which seems really low. So something seems a bit off.

Ultimately, I think all these numbers are pretty individual. I’ve never got up near the numbers Matt was talking about, but did reach 126 at the very peak of my build towards Copenhagen. My mini peak before 70.3 Bahrain (after some time off) was only 84, and I had my best ever performance.

Also, as hammerer says, I tend to look at the disciplines separately and want to be making some improvements, or maintaining, within all three. Simply growing headline combined CTL as much as possible is not a solid strategy!

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No! That’s impossible. Either your numbers are wrong, or you’re talking weekly. Either way, to be able to relate, you need to change something!

Yep I’m thinking weekly - post deleted.

How do you find commute riding stress to turbo training stress?

Iirc the theory is they’re the same, but I can accumulate ~700TSS weekly outside, but find ~400-450 indoor about my max.

I only have a free TP account, but that will give you your TSS for the week, provided the data & parameters are set right. It just won’t give you all the ATL/CTL/TSB stuff for free.

No probs. But that does suggest your numbers then seem too low. I’ve done zero cycling all year. Literally. Up to the end of last week, my cycling CTL was 0. I’ve done a 90min ride on Saturday, an FTP ramp test on Monday, and a 3hr ride last night. That’s 271 TSS just in 4 days. It’s taken my 6 week CTL on the bike to 8 already, which isn’t much below 1/3 of your apparent 43 CTL.

Something just doesn’t sound right, and I think you’re actually quite a bit higher in reality, but that could be incorrect.

Fair question. And that feeds into what hammerer said about all TSS not being created equal.

In general though, whilst turbo training is harder, I personally generate more TSS/hr indoors than outdoors. Outdoors there is coasting, and dead time. That hardly ever happens indoors, so overall ride NP for a session is generally higher indoors, meaning more TSS per hour of riding.

Conversely though, riding for hours outdoors is more feasible than the same time indoors. And duration obviously massively impacts TSS. They’re different types of training stress however. Having done no riding, last night I was cooked after 2hrs and my power output was pitiful the final hour home. But that’s a result of just general endurance. During the FTP ramp test, once I got over 300w, my legs just weren’t up for the challenge and I slowly ground to a halt. That was a result of muscular strength. Cardio wise, from my marathon training, I felt I had more.

TSS, and all these other associated metrics, are just a guide. Ultimately you still need to be targeting a blend of adaptations, and the TSS is what it is. Targeting growth in TSS, which is what you see people doing on IMJ, is putting the cart before the horse.

I can use yesterday as an example of how easy commute racks up TSS. I commuted 11miles each way, on the fixie and going home involves 3 tougher climbs, well tough on a fixie but in reality only 3 to 5 minutes each. 44TSS for 46minutes in and 55 TSS for 59minutes home. The last Sufferfest 4DP i did gave 84TSS in an hour. I also did a fairly easy 5.75k run, 35min 80TSS! (run with power so real TSS) a 30min TM run was only 55TSS (also with power and quite easy). I do think power on the run is a bit lower on the TM when looking at my history which makes sense.

That seems high. Is your running FTP appropriately set? I did 40mins steady yesterday and only got TSS of 45 (also having a running power meter pod). If anything, I think my running FTP is low, so that TSS is probably too high.

It does seem high but it is set. hrTSS would typically give about 60-65 for the same effort. NP was 281 AP 274 and a max of 485. IF was 1.13. The 30min TM run was NP 255 AP253 and Max 273 IF was 1.03 TSS was 80 V 55 for 37 V 30 mins (about 1km difference in distance and AveHr was about the same for both, athough a higher max for the outside run.
(As an aside I use WKO4 as well with has proper power profiling)

Well that will do it! IF of 113% is hardly what I’d call easy, even if only for 30mins! My equivalent was 0.81, and as I say, that’s probably too high given my rFTP is still set quite a bit below what I’ve recently run a HM at (set at 315w, ran a HM at 324w for 1:19).

How did you calculate your rFTP? If you can run 30mins at 1.13 and it feel “easy”, then I honestly can’t see that it’s correct. What on earth would be a typical IF for you on something that was race pace?!

Putting in a bike context, 1.13 IF is well in the realms of vo2max. I could certainly never do 30mins at that amount above FTP on the bike, even if I was giving it everything. The 2*8min FTP test protocol takes 90% of that average as your FTP. Reversing, that’s two 8min intervals of 111% of FTP, absolutely burying yourself, with a massive rest inbetween. Something just doesnt seem right.

EDIT - for the context of the thread, the above demonstrates quite how subjective TSS, and therefore CTL etc, is to accurate thresholds. Hence why “chasing TSS” is a bit backwards.

It’s weird hearing you talk about Run ‘power’ in the same way as biking!

It’s fair to say I don’t train to it like I do on the bike. But I do feel it’s a good objective (repeatable and consistent) measure of how much effort a given session was. HR and pace, are just too influenced by other things (although I pay more attention to HR when running than I do on the bike).

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Its one of the reasons Im still unsure about run power, whilst i put some efforts in and it was rolling roads, I’m not sure it was that hard. I ran a 1/2mara last year at ~295watts for example

I have mixed views of it at present but most of that is down to knowledge. There is a great field though called form power, the cost of doing business as Coggan puts it. so my FP is around 90watts, so essentially I’m wasting 90watts due to form. A good guide is 1watt per kilo! now if i run at 270 watts that’s 33% cost. Its useful for seeing if power changes are all improving your speed as during some testing I’ve put higher watts and gone slower due to forcing a stride etc. I do keep an eye on my power when running but not much as you lose your rhythm looking at a watch. There are also a few issues when running into a headwind. It is “fun” looking at the charts on WKO4 after though. Would I recommend it, well probably not too much at present but that’s because no one really understands the data that’s coming out of it properly. Even the usual power books from the same cycling experts aren’t “finished” articles. I don’t think true runners will buy into it either, its a gadget for MAMIL triathletes at present :wink:

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