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monkie

Target CTL

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This is for those who use TrainingPeaks either coached or uncoached. I'm not really interested in getting into a "Ask your coach" discussion or "Are you only interested in graphs?". Those have been done to death elsewhere.

So for those who do use training peaks, what CTL do you target? The suggested IronMan range is between 95 and 195... 195 seems INSANE... 

I know it varies from person to person and there is a large chunk of trial and error but would love to know what other people go for.

Monkie

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I have a mate that did the course in Canberra this time last year and he said that most Kona athletes are around the 150 CTL.

I think you can get to about 115 and hold that.

Currently 79 working to 100 for Shep

 

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There is some rally good data points on pro cyclists and there ability longer term to hold CTL above (?) 130 I think. All CTL is not equal, especially if you have swimming etc etc feeding in. Also, consistent testing to ensure correct thresholds is critical. But what I have mainly learnt - my CTL could be completely different to someone else’s CTL. I have done an Ironman at 82 CTL and I have some one at 110 CTL. I was 40 min quicker at 82 CTL FWIW - as I had held that CTL for 20 weeks prior, and only peaked in a short 8 week build into a 110 + other race day factors. 

 

Monkie - have you read Jim Vance’s book on metrics. It has some good general levels to target.  

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Seem to be sitting consistently around 105-110 

 

But I'm just doing what I can do. Not trying to KQ or anything 

Edited by FFF1077
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12 minutes ago, Bosco said:

Monkie - have you read Jim Vance’s book on metrics. It has some good general levels to target.  

I have not... I shall. Do you mean Triathlon 2.0? There's a kindle version so I'll download when I get home :)

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Yes - I can give you the book copy if you like. I work in city and live Northside so can drop off any day. 

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58 minutes ago, FFF1077 said:

Seem to be sitting consistently around 105-110 

 

 

just being nosy mate, but whats your TSB at 105-110 CTL

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1 hour ago, Bosco said:

Yes - I can give you the book copy if you like. I work in city and live Northside so can drop off any day. 

Ooo, that would be ace. I'll PM you.

 

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3 hours ago, FFF1077 said:

Seem to be sitting consistently around 105-110 

 

But I'm just doing what I can do. Not trying to KQ or anything 

I think that might be incorrect. Evidence:

1) I am guessing, based off your posts in 'today's training' that you've just started a regular program

2) Wasn't it your run that had a massive TSS score ? That's going to massively increase your CTL, but obviously that's not right. 

At 105-110 most normal age groupers are putting in 12-15 hrs/week and have been for awhile. Might be worth checking everything is correct.

Edited by TimG
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...and to actually respond, I like my CTL to be 100+ Usually 100 for a HIM and as high as possible for an IM. 130 is about my limit, unless I want a divorce as well.

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5 minutes ago, xblane said:

Assuming you need premium for the CTL data on training peaks?

correct assumption

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3 hours ago, KieranR said:

just being nosy mate, but whats your TSB at 105-110 CTL

About this much today. 

Screenshot_20180926-135920_TrainingPeaks.jpg

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1 hour ago, TimG said:

I think that might be incorrect. Evidence:

1) I am guessing, based off your posts in 'today's training' that you've just started a regular program

2) Wasn't it your run that had a massive TSS score ? That's going to massively increase your CTL, but obviously that's not right. 

At 105-110 most normal age groupers are putting in 12-15 hrs/week and have been for awhile. Might be worth checking everything is correct.

After asking some questions around the place I went back and recalculated the data from the start of the program. The run data. The bike and swim are accurate. 👍

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For an Ironman last year over a 23 week plan using Joe Friel's Periodisation...

 

After two weeks off training, I started Week 1/Baseline @ 40

After the Base Period/Week 12 I was @ 100

During the Build Period/Weeks 13-20 I ranged between 115-125

By race day after a three week taper, I was back to 100

 

Some Notes;

- I included all swim, bike, run and strength training sessions.

- I just followed the plan I was given, I wasn't trying to hit certain CTL numbers and didn't adjust sessions to do so.

 

 

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Yeah I'm aware of the number. Don't use it as a target for training. Just watch it go up and down. 

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10 minutes ago, Surfer said:

What is CTL? 

It’s a TrainingPeaks number that measures your consistency of training. 

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29 minutes ago, Surfer said:

What is CTL? 

What Peter said.

But more specifically it is a weighted average of the daily TSS (Training Stress Scores) for your training over the last 42 days. 

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38 minutes ago, monkie said:

What Peter said.

But more specifically it is a weighted average of the daily TSS (Training Stress Scores) for your training over the last 42 days. 

You are just making it sound hard now. 

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Just now, Peter said:

You are just making it sound hard now. 

I'm a data nerd so I like to be specific :D

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Interesting numbers alright. I normally train for OD & 10k to HMs and train about 9 - 12 hours a week. I race about 9 times a year, so 9 tapers and 9 recovery weeks. I go between 95 and 115 so not that far off you IM folks. My timbers are correct in TP. I probably train with more intensity than most and everything is logged...

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I guess I look at the CTL etc the same way someone would look at a cheap poorly calibrated Power meter. It's a number and after a number of years watching it I can see "stuff coming" and change my life outside of Triathlon to cope(until after Busso). For example I am pretty rooted this afternoon so I spoke to my team leader today who is going to give me a hand tomorrow at work. 

 

It's a number. I watch and learn how I feel at certain levels. I'd like to get the thresholds correct and monitor it closely. Like a project post Busso. 

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Alan Couzens has a lot of cool technical studies, 20h a week should get you close to those purported KQ numbers. I used to follow it more closely but as others have noted, all CTL is not equal, drafting in a squad or a wetsuit skews the results. Also a long run is more likely to require more muscle and skeletal recovery than the same CTL accumulated from smaller runs. I do try to get a bit more technical on interval pacing as I enter a build because it is easier to stuff up recovery going too hard too soon.

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Yeah 

I have altered my swim pace threshold because of a few things that I can't discuss. I can't swim as fast as I am. Criptic, yes, but oh well 

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23 minutes ago, Kiwinoz said:

 Also a long run is more likely to require more muscle and skeletal recovery than the same CTL accumulated from smaller runs. 

Yup, I was chatting to a colleague today and explained exactly this. It's just a number that can help guide training volume and intensity. But you could rack up the same TSS / CTL from a bunch of really hard 30 minute runs as you can from some long stuff but you can't run a marathon off the back of 30 minute hard efforts.

Also as you say running requires different types of recovery / time than from hard cycling and swimming sessions.

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5 hours ago, FFF1077 said:

About this much today. 

Screenshot_20180926-135920_TrainingPeaks.jpg

 

3 hours ago, Surfer said:

What is CTL? 

Also ctl (fitness) and fatigue have to be identical for race day. 

The theory behind it is you are in the best shape and recovery and ready to race when the numbers are identical. 

So the taper is important for that to happen. 

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5 minutes ago, FFF1077 said:

Cheers @Peter

I didn't know that. 👍👍👍

Yeah next time they are the same and you do a session, you’ll notice you’ll be on fire. It’s pretty cool. 

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3 minutes ago, Peter said:

Yeah next time they are the same and you do a session, you’ll notice you’ll be on fire. It’s pretty cool. 

Cheers 

 

Yeah just looked at last Saturday. 5 points apart and then had an epic Sun/Mon 👍👌👌

Edited by FFF1077
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12 hours ago, monkie said:

What Peter said.

But more specifically it is a weighted average of the daily TSS (Training Stress Scores) for your training over the last 42 days. 

To be even more specific, CTL is an exponentially weighted moving average of daily Training Stress Scores with a decay time constant of 42 days typically, although that is a variable you can alter. This provides a good indicator of your Chronic Training Load (CTL), an indicator of how hard and consistently you have been training over the recent months.

Likewise, Acute Training Load (ATL) is essentially the same thing but uses a much shorter decay time constant, typically 7 days although one can adjust that to between 3 to 10 days. Because the decay constant is much shorter it provides an indication of how much and hard your training has been in recent weeks. Also ATL's lower decay time constant means the ATL value will respond more rapidly to daily TSS than does CTL.

The difference between them is an indicator of freshness/fatigue, to be considered along with your subjective sensations.

It's a way to quantify your overall training patterns, provide a helicopter view of the forest that makes up all the individual trees of individual training sessions.

There are some important training principles it can help you to apply with a little more confidence, provided one understands its limitations and feeds it with correct input data.

Edited by Alex Simmons
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I don't tend to bother much with CTL, certainly not as a target.  Instead I focus on weeky TSS (Training Stress Score) and TSB (Training Stress Balance aka Form).  The weekly TSS is a better guide than weekly Hours because it incorporates Intensity as well as duration.

Keeping the TSB between -10 and -30 is the sweet spot for effective training load. So I want to see this line stay in this range for 3 weeks and then rise closer to 0 during recovery week. Next 3 week block it goes back down to the -10 to -30 range. During taper I want it to see it rise to around +5 to +10.

Assuming accurate data, a TSB between 0 and -10 means your training is not very effective. Whereas past -30 is the danger zone. Staying below -30 is a recipe for injury, illness and/or over training. You will drop down below -30 from time to time (after big sessions), but you do not want to stay down there.

I also review the TSS on every session. Fix any heart rate or power spikes and sometimes overwrite the figure if I don't think the computed value is correct. TSS problems usually occur in swim sessions where it has mucked up the laps and more recently with the wrist optical hr readers which seem very unreliable.

Obviously works best if thresholds are configured correctly (and kept up to date) and the athlete always uses the gadgets to record the sessions.

Finally I use all these metrics more like a spell checker after I have written the program. This means scheduling all sessions with duration and Intensity Factor (IF) so that Training Peaks can predict the TSS for each scheduled session.

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6 hours ago, Alex Simmons said:

To be even more specific, CTL is an exponentially weighted moving average of daily Training Stress Scores with a decay time constant of 42 days typically, although that is a variable you can alter. This provides a good indicator of your Chronic Training Load (CTL), an indicator of how hard and consistently you have been training over the recent months.

Likewise, Acute Training Load (ATL) is essentially the same thing but uses a much shorter decay time constant, typically 7 days although one can adjust that to between 3 to 10 days. Because the decay constant is much shorter it provides an indication of how much and hard your training has been in recent weeks. Also ATL's lower decay time constant means the ATL value will respond more rapidly to daily TSS than does CTL.

The difference between them is an indicator of freshness/fatigue, to be considered along with your subjective sensations.

It's a way to quantify your overall training patterns, provide a helicopter view of the forest that makes up all the individual trees of individual training sessions.

There are some important training principles it can help you to apply with a little more confidence, provided one understands its limitations and feeds it with correct input data.

Thanks Alex.

Out of interest what would be the rationale for changing the decay time?

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These are algorithms were invented by Training Peaks (mostly Andy Coggan). They would have a large sample size of data to test what numbers work best for the majority of cases. But they allow them to be changed, because they acknowledge that the values are arbitrary.

I wouldn't advise changing the values. But maybe someone training for an Ultra Ironman would like a longer value. And someone who coaches people 'Couch to 5km' would prefer a smaller number.

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20 minutes ago, Rob said:

I wouldn't advise changing the values. But maybe someone training for an Ultra Ironman would like a longer value. And someone who coaches people 'Couch to 5km' would prefer a smaller number.

Cool, thanks Rob. That's what I thought in a way but I would still think the underlying physiology would remain the same irrespective of the distance training for?

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9 hours ago, Rob said:

These are algorithms were invented by Training Peaks (mostly Andy Coggan). They would have a large sample size of data to test what numbers work best for the majority of cases. But they allow them to be changed, because they acknowledge that the values are arbitrary.

I wouldn't advise changing the values. But maybe someone training for an Ultra Ironman would like a longer value. And someone who coaches people 'Couch to 5km' would prefer a smaller number.

The metrics were invented by Andy Coggan, and were simplified versions of the unduly complex (i.e. impractical) Bannister impulse-response model. TP had nothing to do with their development but they did acquire the trademark rights to the terms and introduced them into their software, which is where most people first became exposed to them.

16 hours ago, monkie said:

Thanks Alex.

Out of interest what would be the rationale for changing the decay time?

Here's an old blog post of mine with a video showing the impact to the Performance Manager Chart of changing the time constants.

https://wattmatters.blog/home/2013/03/a-time-for-bit-of-sensitivity-analysis.html

In summary, there's no need to change the CTL time constant as it's not particularly sensitive to changes, at least not changes within a week or so of the default. I know Hunter Allen has played with nearly halving the CTL TC at times for some athletes but I've not really seen much merit with this.

For ATL you may want to adjust the ATL time constant to better reflect your own recovery rates but even so the overall patterns won't change much.

The defaults were chosen based on the published science of rates of training adaptations and fatigue, although of course there is individual variation. Back in the early-mid 2000s when we were testing it all, many of us tried all sorts of experiments, adjusting the time constants, making them variable depending on CTL, playing with ATL/CTL ratios and so on but in the end what mattered most was the patterns they reveal than the absolute values.

I dubbed it the "retrospect-a-scope" as it was a fabulous tool for post hoc assessment of a season or seasons. It has its obvious use as a planning tool as well, but at the overall level, less so the specific detail.

Sure it's good to have some normalisation between people on how to interpret the numbers, but they are guides with ranges rather than precise values. Like Rob above outlines ranges he finds works for him. I tend to look at the rate at which CTL is changing, and what any individual can sustain varies, as it does depending on your state of fitness, the composition of your training and rest of life factors.

Edited by Alex Simmons

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Thanks everybody for the, as ever, informative replies. I love the "retrospective-a-scope" description, that's how I'm using it at the moment, looking at where I was last time I raced, trying to be a bit "above" that this time round and seeing how different it feels to then plan the next one.

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Its a great planning tool if you are self coached. Building your CTL in a sensible way, looking at each discipline seperately and monitoring your daily TSB as you work out your plan is really useful for avoiding over training and being too fatigued to be useful at work or home. 

For instance if my  combined TSB drops much below -28 I know I'm going to be quite tired, not great if I have a major project at work or going out with the wife for dinner.

Once you've been using it for a while you'll work out what CTL works best for each discipline. For instance if my ride CTL is above 50 then I'll be well setup for a 70.3 ride, I'm in good half marathon form if my run CTL is greater than 35. A CTL of around 20 for swimming also means that I'll be comfortable over a 2 km swim.

The biggest problem I have with TP at the moment is the speed at which my CTL drops when I'm travelling on 2 week work trips. My bike CTL dropped from 55 to 33 because I was unable to ride for the past 2 weeks. However, I'm not convinced this is accurate, its simply how the algorithm handles my score, 

If you want to save money and are mathmatically minded then you can build up an excel spreadsheet to map your own ATL, CTL and TSB. Its also a useful means of building up a program. TP basic will give you a training session TSS even if you are not a premium member. However, for the annual cost I find it easier to simply pay up and let it do the work.

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18 minutes ago, Evil Guru said:

The biggest problem I have with TP at the moment is the speed at which my CTL drops when I'm travelling on 2 week work trips. My bike CTL dropped from 55 to 33 because I was unable to ride for the past 2 weeks. However, I'm not convinced this is accurate, its simply how the algorithm handles my score, 

I completely empathise with this. Two weeks of no cycling can happen quite easily and I don't think you lose as much fitness as your drop in CTL would suggest. CTL doesn't, however, pretend to take into account the "base" that you have inside you which we all know is important i.e. if you have been cycling 4 x per week for the last year and then miss two weeks you will lose far less fitness than if you have only been doing it for the last 6 weeks but the CTL impact would be the same. 

I am treating it like any mathematical model, it's basically "wrong" as all models are but is a useful tool for providing insight into fitness through simplification of the overly complex real world.

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1 hour ago, monkie said:

I completely empathise with this. Two weeks of no cycling can happen quite easily and I don't think you lose as much fitness as your drop in CTL would suggest. CTL doesn't, however, pretend to take into account the "base" that you have inside you which we all know is important i.e. if you have been cycling 4 x per week for the last year and then miss two weeks you will lose far less fitness than if you have only been doing it for the last 6 weeks but the CTL impact would be the same. 

I am treating it like any mathematical model, it's basically "wrong" as all models are but is a useful tool for providing insight into fitness through simplification of the overly complex real world.

Agreed and in my case. 20 years of riding and typically averaging over 9 rides per week over the past 6 months, although 8 of these are a 40 minute commute, with a long ride on the weekend. Very easy to have big TSS weeks with over 250km quite regularly.

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2 minutes ago, FFF1077 said:

Two weeks is a long time to not do one discipline. 

LOL.  You should see my training plan.

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2 hours ago, Evil Guru said:

Its a great planning tool if you are self coached. Building your CTL in a sensible way, looking at each discipline seperately and monitoring your daily TSB as you work out your plan is really useful for avoiding over training and being too fatigued to be useful at work or home. 

For instance if my  combined TSB drops much below -28 I know I'm going to be quite tired, not great if I have a major project at work or going out with the wife for dinner.

Once you've been using it for a while you'll work out what CTL works best for each discipline. For instance if my ride CTL is above 50 then I'll be well setup for a 70.3 ride, I'm in good half marathon form if my run CTL is greater than 35. A CTL of around 20 for swimming also means that I'll be comfortable over a 2 km swim.

The biggest problem I have with TP at the moment is the speed at which my CTL drops when I'm travelling on 2 week work trips. My bike CTL dropped from 55 to 33 because I was unable to ride for the past 2 weeks. However, I'm not convinced this is accurate, its simply how the algorithm handles my score, 

If you want to save money and are mathmatically minded then you can build up an excel spreadsheet to map your own ATL, CTL and TSB. Its also a useful means of building up a program. TP basic will give you a training session TSS even if you are not a premium member. However, for the annual cost I find it easier to simply pay up and let it do the work.

This is actually really smart.  never looked at watching each sport.  

My swim and bike are spot on I think, but even though my settings are correct for running, it's very generous on TSS. 

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1 hour ago, Stikman said:

LOL.  You should see my training plan.

Yeah but you are the master of recovery. If you could measure the CTL of date nights and a quality relationship you'd be "over training" 😉👍😊✌️

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1 hour ago, Stikman said:

LOL.  You should see my training plan.

I had a few other things to do, which included working in Cairo (probably not the best place to ride), travelling to London and then to Inverness to run the Loch Ness marathon, then recovering from that while organising a conference and working 14 hour days, before then flying home on Friday night and arriving on Sunday. (50 hours without any sleep).

I'm back into it this week with my 4th ride starting in around 45 minutes.

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1 hour ago, FFF1077 said:

Two weeks is a long time to not do one discipline. 

Not really especially if you are replacing the rides with runs or swims. The cardio-vascular impact can be minimised. Yeah you will lose some specific cycling fitness but if you're coming from a strong base it should have that much impact.

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2 hours ago, Alex Simmons said:

All models are wrong. Some are useful.

I think that's pretty much exactly what I said ;)

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