CTL is a proxy for fitness – it’s what you’ve actually managed to do for the last six weeks.
TIP: the speed your CTL increases is called your “load ramp” – a common error for athletes is too quick a load ramp.
CTL should be fairly stable – if it is not then look deeper.
Do you have unplanned misses? injuries? illnesses?
Your mind will try to wrap a story around the misses.
Don’t worry about why.
Your training zones are set too high
Your loading days are too big
You have too many loading days
Two loading days each week, a stable CTL, a life that’s under control…
Gives you plenty to work with.
In the TP world, “fatigue” is measured by Acute Training Load, ATL. This is your average score for the last week (7 days).
If we take your CTL (fitness) and subtract your ATL (fatigue) then we can see how “fresh” you are. TP calls this your “form.”
Each athlete will have a personal tolerance for how negative they can take their form.
When you get “too tired” have a look at your “form” score and see how negative it was before you tipped over the edge.
We ALL make mistakes – the framework gives you a way to see if there is a pattern to your loading mistakes.
If it the above seems too much then you can simplify your approach!
Use HRV4Training and taking a morning HR measurement. Marco’s app will help you decide if it is a good day to load, recover, or rest.
Green light (load), Yellow light (maintenance or easy), Red light (recovery).
For now, I don’t recommend other company “readiness metrics” – they don’t work, yet.
To show how the week comes together, let’s dig into a case study – my current situation
My CTL is ~75 points.
Easy day – 25-50 points (below CTL)
Maintenance day – 75 points (around CTL)
Loading day – 150 points (2x CTL)
The key error here is one you’ve heard before…
Keep your easy days easy
In order to give yourself capacity to absorb your Loading Days, you need to recover from them!
This means you need to limit:
Number of loading days in a week
The size of the loading day, relative to CTL (your “average” day)
Many athletes load themselves into the ground, go stale, recover, then repeat the cycle, perhaps with injury/illness for variety!
This pattern will leave you undertrained because you are doing too much training.
When I was younger, I tolerated bigger Loading Days – start with two days a week at 2x CTL
The game with CTL is to gradually build sustainable load – that’s a superior game to seeing how hard you can smash yourself every single weekend.
CTL will seem like a long game to you. Six weeks is NOTHING – barely enough time to create an overuse injury.
1,000 days is the shortest cycle you should be thinking about. Amateur athletes should be thinking on an Olympic Cycle – 2 years base building, 1 year performance-focused, 1 year health-focused – repeat forever!
The majority of your load should be Moderate Domain aerobic load (Zone 1 and Zone 2). This is very different to what you will think you need. You are going to be battling your urge to “go hard” and self-sabotage.
Training Peaks helps make mistakes visible – it’s up to you to address your mistakes.
Now we are ready to discuss the week, itself.
Similar to the Big Picture, write down what you are trying to achieve. From my week just past:
Elevation change run
Bike long ride (2,000kj)
Those were specific workouts I wanted to include.
Something important I didn’t do last week
Something I want to add
Correcting an error from prior week (2,800kj was too much)
All the other sessions stay the same: (a) endurance training focus; and (b) strength sessions.
2002 / 2006 / 2010 Three Consecutive Swedish Olympic Teams
There are themes that repeat in the LTAD literature.
From 7-10 yo the local parents set up a “sports school.” One day a week, they’d have a couple hours and try different activities
Very active childhood, but no early specialization, Johan’s skate focus started ~13 yo
Continued to play organized soccer/tennis, and lots of spontaneous ball sports, through his mid-teens. His skating coach supported all general training and encouraged him to continue
Ran, cycled, raced Swedish Nationals (road race)
Grew up in a small city, 125,000 population at present
Surprising to me, Johan didn’t come from a Skate Family.
His Dad was a Regional Class soccer player. As the family grew, his father’s focus shifted from his own sports to being a soccer and bandy coach for kids. He continued to run and race 1-2x per year. Johan’s mom was artistic and both parents worked full-time through this childhood.
His entry to the sport of speed skating was via a local club that handled training, talent development and races.
VERY independent in approach – the local club organized bus trips to race in the Netherlands and Germany in his Tweens, without parents, staying with locals.
Johan was the key driver in getting himself to a very high level. The Swedish Club system and local coaching infrastructure gave him the opportunity to train himself to a world class level.
Johan, and I, are very interested in helping our kids excel at sport. It was the #1 topic for our call.
0-2 years old: we are a swim family, our babies all started out very comfortable in the water. If you want your kids to swim then, ideally, continue their natural-born comfort via positive experiences in the water, from birth.
2-6 years old
Movement skills via gymnastics – we didn’t progress into pre-team, very basic balance, agility and movement for all our kids
Swimming – a swim lesson, once a week, every week – from a coach, who wasn’t us.
Soccer Tots – from preschool age, coordination, bit of running, general play
Preschool – three years, play-based preschool where they learned skills to get along with other kids – early socialization in a play-based environment
7-12 years old
Just like Johan, lots of different sports: Thai Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Indoor Climbing, Swimming, Soccer, Hiking, Running, Downhill Skiing, Uphill Skiing, Water Polo, Indoor Skiing
Some sports come-and-go, continue at least once per week swimming lesson.
Family policy is “do something” – we are willing to change what they do each season.
Lots of activity – competition mostly absent
In this phase, build self-confidence.
Two examples are indoor climbing and skiing. Both sports involve: movement skills, problem solving, fear management and young kids can be better than many adults. Huge confidence boosters for our crew.
No judges, no scoring, we SHARE athletic experiences with our kids.
Something a little different.
Summer Swim League from a very early age (5 yo) for each of our kids.
Intense 10 week summer season where they swim M-F and have a dual meet on Saturday
Touch the water ~80 days across their summer holiday
Finals event with 100s of kids, gives them big venue experience
Positive early race experience by winning ribbons at the dual meets, and eventually medals at the Finals event
Teen Years – like Johan, specialize if THEY want.
Our only policy is that everyone does something, including us.
Our oldest is a swim specialist and soon-to-be 14 yo. She still does extracurricular cross-country running, track and skiing. Her summer swim focus, continues since 5 yo.
We only have negative-control.
In other words, we can screw things up, but we cannot make it happen.
What makes it happen?
Wide range of movement skills
An environment to excel – access to skilled coaches and motivated teammates
The child’s, and eventually the teen’s, inherent drive
It’s a long road to the top!
Final questions => be brutally honest with yourself…
What do I want for my kids, and why do I want it?
A lifelong enjoyment of daily exercise NOT a self-identity wrapped up in winning!
Am I seeking to compete, or win, through them?
I want to enjoy nature alongside them. Many parents care far too much about results.
Understand my values & biases
We try to keep our kids, and ourselves, grounded by exposure to a WIDE range of field strengths. There is a benefit from getting our butts kicked every so often.
As parents, we are mostly positively reinforcing.
We offer immediate, negative feedback (and event venue removal) when we witness poor sportsmanship. We’ve left sports when we didn’t like the peers.
Most athletes would be best served by doing the “warm-up” – the aerobic benchmarking – then hit the trails for a relaxed hour of running.
When I did this workout, I’d run a 2:51 marathon (off the bike) ten weeks earlier at Ironman New Zealand. My LT1 numbers were creeping ever closer to LT2… Scott Molina wanted to give my run training more “headroom.” Scott was right.
What would I do differently? Test lactate: baseline, LT1, LT1+10bpm and end of every 2nd 800. The La- data would have give pace/HR more context.
If you read to the end then you’ll see we were thinking about “the next trip” – Clas and I never got that done.
When YOU get the chance to take the “trip of a lifetime,” I hope you take it.
Take your shot.
gRAAM – Trans USA Day Sixty-One aiken, south carolina
Wasn’t sure how this workout was going to go. I was feeling pretty good for most of yesterday. Had a false start at one school and also had to negotiate with the facilities manager mid-session. Went like this…
FM – Ya’all CAN’T be here! B (rippin’ it) – Talk to him, I’m running. G – I’ll be right there, sir.
FM – Eye, got signs everywhere. No Tress-passin’ G – Well, that big sign says open to the public. FM – Eye, don’t care what that sign says, I put up them other signs yisterday. We be sprayin the grass tamarra!
G – Oh sorry about that. That gate over there was open. FM – That was the mower man. Told him to leave it open last night. G – We didn’t want to cause any problems.
FM – You ain’t from ‘round here, are ya? G – Nope, we’re from Canada. FM – That’s a long way. Just passin’ through, eh? G – Yep, riding to Hilton Head tomorrow. FM – Well, ah guess it’s OK. Just head out that same gate. Ya looked liked ya needed a break anyhow. See ya.
My session went like this..
Concrete Track Low 80s, moderate to high humidity, light to moderate winds Two Miles Easy Two Miles AeT, 3:51/3:55/3:57 — avgs 141/142/143 Three K AeT+10, 3:46/3:46/3:46 — avgs 151/152/153 Four Strides
Not sure why I popped the HR on 5/6. It was pretty hot, maybe I was dehydrated RI was mid 50s to around a minute on the 200, HR might have got a little under 150 but not all the time
2:44 is 34 min 10K pace, I think. Pretty solid aerobic numbers. Morning weight was 78KG. You know, I am aerobically faster and more powerful than I’ve ever been. I know that light is useful but it can’t be the whole story. Baron thinks that I am lighter than I think I am (not sure what that means, it’s the same scale as last summer).
A little bit about why I like this session so much.
First up, I need at least a mile to warm my legs up. During big IM training, it can take a 30 min spin plus the two miles for me to get rolling. Even though I was shelled a couple of days ago, I was pretty fresh (on my standards) for this session.
The warm-up is 10.6K including the strides (and their RI). It lets me check in on my key metrics of AeT Pace (steady state) and AeT+10 Pace (what I like to call max steady state). It also gives me a big dose of running that is at (or above) IM pace/effort. It does it in a way than supports and enhances my run endurance, cardiac capacity, and leg turnover. Also, if I have an inability to get to LT then that is a clear indicator of a substantial training fatigue.
I’ve been doing this session (in various forms) for over a year – I two years ago, I used to do Yasso 800s at a much faster pace but now feel that protocol is sub-optimal for IM (too fast, not enough volume, too stressful). The numbers above represent my best yet performance for this workout.
While a variation of this workout is useful. When I review most athlete’s training performance vis-à-vis their workout performance, they would simply be best riding more and doing the 10K warm-up section as a week day aerobic test set. Why? Because most folks are running IM so far from their AeT pace that their true limiter lies in steady state bike fitness. So they are simply getting themselves tired for no benefit if they did the main set above.
The track also provides a good opportunity to experiment a bit with cadence and body position – quick light cadence, controlled speed, relaxed speed, long spine, tall balanced athlete.
I’m glad that I have some sea-level data to benchmark against my Boulder numbers.
We threw the Baron on the track this morning. I was a little nervous because he’s a real racehorse and you never know what will happen on the track. However, it was a unique chance for us to get some data when he’s heading into a race.
15 min easy 30 min goal IM Pace 15 min goal IM effort 5 min bring it a little over LT 10 min easy
AeT Pace (140) = 3:40 per K, 5:54 per mile Max Steady State (150) = 3:33 per K, 5:40 per mile Total session was a Half Marathon run in 1:18:40, 145 avg
We said good bye to Ben today – like Barry, he found the track session challenging. Muscular fatigue possibly combining with the beginnings of a sore throat made it tough for him to elevate his HR. I’ll let him tell his story but I will give him _respect_ for making it the whole way!
Well done, Amigo.
I’ve extended an invitation to him to come out to Boulder and hang for a bit. Maybe he’ll come out for more action. He reciprocated with an invite to hang at the spacious Casa del Travis during the September Hell Camp.
After we dropped Ben at the airport. Baron and I headed to the pool. We each had our own lane in a VERY fine 50m pool – Augusta Aquatic Center if you ever get to town. Very nice, $4 for a swim.
LCM with sleeveless wetsuit 400 easy every 4th back 4×100 on 1:30 (1:25 to 1:20) 4×50 on 1:00 (40 to 32) 20×100 on 1:40 (first 10 avg 1:19, second 10 avg 1:17/18 – all three stroke breathing) 450 easy (booted out due to lightning)
No lightning rod on the roof so we were evicted part way through the final 1K steady finale!
Buh-duh-gay! What’s buh-duh-gay? Baron drills gordo across Europe. Even when nuked, I’ve been enjoying this trip. My life might not always be “fun” but it’s certainly rewarding.
At first, we were thinking about Rome to Mockfjärd but that seemed like a long way and I’ve been to Northern Germany in April (wet!).
Next year is Baron’s Zofingen focus year so I was thinking that some climbing might make sense. Also, this trip started getting a bit ‘old’ around eight weeks so, perhaps, that’s a decent length for an extended tour.
So right now, we are considering Gordo’s Latin Extravaganza – start with a swim in the Atlantic (Portugal or Spain) and then rip every major Southern European Mountain Range. Skip the camping and go the pensionne route, perhaps.
I’ve done some riding in the Alpes Maritimes in May before – that would be nice. We could also do Epic France recon and bag most the grand tour climbs (Spain, France, Italy).
Just an idea, for now.
Not much left to go. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.
Had a little bit of Krishnamurti run through my head over the last few days. “We can never be deceived if we don’t want anything.” So true, whenever I feel deceived then I try to look to what I was seeking to possess in the situation.
I wrote this in Memphis, the ride into town was the greatest tailwind, and scariest bridge crossing of my life!
What I call “tempo” is now known as the Heavy Domain.
The names have changed, the training errors remain.
Then, and now, athletes hinder their development by capping their aerobic gains.
I’ll share the “20K Track Workout” (mentioned below) next Saturday – it’s a great set that will surface useful data for you, and your athletes.
Big Picture => my advice (then and now)… repeat the week, for a while… only then will we have the basis for a conversation.
gRAAM – Trans USA Day Forty-Seven memphis, tennessee
Reviewed my track sessions I appear to be well ahead of last year. This is pretty exciting because I did ZERO track work over the winter.
Anyhow, Scott and I have another moderate session planned for next week and then we’ll do my standard (20K) “track” workout to see where I am at. That will be about a week and a half out from Triple T. Should be a good indicator for me.
Baron says that there’s no way that I am ten pounds over race weight. He thinks it’s more like six.
We said good-bye to Barry this morning. Over the next couple of days, I expect that he’ll pull his thoughts together on the experience for InsideTri.Com – should make interesting reading. We threw everything we could at him and he just kept bouncing back. Fourteen days of monster training is really the furthest that I’d recommend anyone goes so it was probably for the best that he headed back to Oregon – even if it would have been nice to have him along.
Season Pacing & Race Preparation
Some of you might be getting fired up reading about these entries. I’d urge caution on trying to mimic the training that the Baron and I are laying down. To be honest, we are a little surprised ourselves that we are surviving. Yesterday, I wrote this to one of my crew that frequently does big day training and is aiming for a late season peak.
Patience — it’s a long season so don’t extend yourself “way out” in May. Keep it rolling, keep it fun, keep it large but… keep it reasonable (for us at least).
Tempo — aerobic tempo is a waste of time for you, me and everyone. When you leave your steady zone you need a reason to be out of there. Big Gear, Strength Hills, Race, TT — probably the only reason for Tempo bike and run work. Otherwise you are having fun going fast but simply making yourself more tired — not more fit.
Weeks — No more than 12-14 “on days” without a 3-5 day recovery cycle. Even with that you should have 2-3 easy days in the on-cycle. Otherwise you won’t get the recovery that you need to bounce back from the outstanding training you are laying down.
Also yesterday, I sat down with Steve (our Little Rock host) and talked through my thoughts on the training that he needed for his first Half IM at the end of the summer. Key points that might be relevant to you:
Basic Week – build a basic week that is “doable” within your life and agreeable to your wife (husband).
Consistency – repeat the basic week for 15 weeks.
Key Workouts – plan a sane progression of volume for your key sessions.
Intensity – insert blocks of steady into your longer workouts. Learn _even_ endurance workout pacing.
Swim Goal – get comfortable with swimming 1.2 miles without using a lot of energy. What you do is far less important than simply swimming 3x per week every single week for 15 weeks.
Bike Goal – build your long ride up to six hours to train your body’s aerobic system.
Run Goal – stay healthy, run 90 minutes once a week, run off the bike for time management and consistency. Slow down and aim for a consistent period of pain-free running.
Focus – ignore all the various ideas and tips that everyone throws your way. Repeat Your Week. Repeat Your Week. Once you finish the race, you’ll have some data and will know more about whether you enjoy training and racing long.
Sammy came up with a great term that I’d like to share with you. No doubt the sports scientists will beg to differ but (deep down) I kinda get a kick out of their attempts to save the world from it’s own ignorance.
Lactate Bruising – the dead legged feeling from smacking out the intensity early in a TT, race or workout.
I’ve often noticed that any sustained periods over LT will have a big negative impact on late workout or race performance. That’s with my own training. For Racing Long, I’ve extended that observation to “take some time to give a REALISTIC assessment of your average race intensity for the whole day. Bear in mind that your medium of movement becomes less dense as your day progresses. So, you’d better have a clear reason for exceeding average race intensity, especially in the first third of your day.”
Baron does a pretty good gordo-imitation. Get him to show it to you some time. He’s especially good at imitating my run form and when I’ve had a lot of coffee.
The conditions today are what Baron calls “I’m The Man” riding. We had favourable tailwinds and he was content to let me set the pace all day. So I get fired up on cola and Dr. Pepper – sit up front, ride 40-43 KM/h and go…
Hi! I’m gordo… I’m _THE MAN_… I’m going lower… I need a 58… I feel GREAT!… And on… And on…
And I laugh out loud and sing along to my MP3 player.
Baron does a good imitation of that. Makes me smile. Unless my back’s locked up – which hasn’t happened for a while.
Andy From Memphis
Andy rode out into a MONSTER headwind to meet us. He’s also set us up with his wireless network, a couple of spare beds and a sweet pad! An excellent set-up and very much appreciated by the crew.
There won’t be a State Line photo for entering Tennessee. If you’ve ever driven the I-40 bridge into town then you’ll understand our reluctance to stop…
A – You wanna stop? G – Dude, it’s hammer time – get me out of here!
Top Three scary situations for the trip.
Swim was SCY and courtesy of Steve’s club (one heck of a nice guy) 200 fr, 200 alt by 50 bk/br, 200 IM, 200 easy, 50 kick/100 fr/50 kick 15×150 fr on two mins arriving on 1:55 100 easy 4×100 IM on 1:40 arriving on 1:30 5×200 on 2:50 arriving on 2:40
Ride was 250K over about 6.5 hours of ride time. Flat, hot and humid – we were grateful to have Lance ride us out of Little Rock to make sure that we got on our way.