Archive for December, 2012

Chronic Training Load & Why It Matters

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by brianestover

If you have used WKO+ you’ve seen the Performance Manager Chart (PMC) that shows your Chronic Training Load (CTL). Most people I talk to look at the chart and think “Gee look at the pretty lines and colors.” But when used correctly, the CTL line on that chart gives you an idea of what you’ve done and what you can do. It needs to be looked at along with the other pretty lines in your PMC, but for now I’ll give the down and dirty on CTL.

When you train you stress the body. You adapt and hopefully over repeated weeks, months and years of training you get faster AND you can handle higher workloads. Today’s hard 5×5 minutes of threshold on the bike that makes you hit the couch for a two hour nap, becomes tomorrow’s 8×5 minutes of threshold that leaves you tired but able to grocery shop right after. Today’s training becomes tomorrow’s chronic training load. Different training has different stresses and impacts your CTL differently. Your CTL is measured in Training Stress Score / Day. Think of this as how much stress you give yourself based upon what you do. A hard interval session where you knock out 4k of intervals and run 9k total will give you more TSS then a 10k easy run. A 2.5 hour ride where you flog yourself for 75 minutes of threshold will yield more stress then a 2.5 hour coffee cruise. If easy coffee cruises added a ton of stress, instead of social rides to have a coffee we’d have climbing rides to socialize.

Since TSS makes up part of your CTL the more you do in any one day the higher CTL goes. It also rewards consistency. Remember CTL = Training Stress Score / Day. It’s the cumulative training you’ve averaged per day for how ever long you want to look at it in your PMC. (This is why it’s a good idea to run more than one PMC.) If your PMC is set for 52 weeks, it’s going to take more to increase or more time off to decrease your CTL compared to a PMC that is set at 28 days. The more consistent you are in training daily, the more you can influence up or down your CTL. Big training days typically add to your TSS/D, days off of training subtract from it.

To give you an example of how this works let’s choose 165.5 TSS/D, this means you’ve averaged 165.5 TSS per day every day you’ve trained for however long your PMC is set for. If you only train 50 TSS today it will drop a little. If you train 257.8 TSS it will rise a little. Generally you want this to rise over time and get as high as possible. It’s this long term rise in what you have done that allows you to do more. It;s this long term rise that is the result of training. A U23 rider isn’t going to have the same sort of CTL that a veteran cyclist who has ridden 10 Grand Tours over the last 4 years is going to have. But depending upon how long you set your PMC for and what each of these riders has been doing recently the U23 rider might have a higher ATL (Acute Training Load) then the veteran tour rider.

You have to look at CTL in both the short and long term. If you only look at the long term CTL you might miss the day in day out picture of what you have been doing very recently. Huge ramp ups over short periods of time can leave you tired and performing poorly if not managed proprely. On the other hand, if you only look at your PMC over the short duration, you won’t see what you’ve done long term and might miss clues to what you could be doing or should be doing.

Below I’ve inserted a PMC of one of my athletes from last season. I’ll talk about some of the things that influenced the CTL aka blue line.

Season Long PMC

Season Long PMC

To look at the season as a whole you’ll start from the left and look right. This will give you an idea of where they started and where they ended up. This was a new to me athlete and I had no historical data from them from previous years. The first four and a half months were spent training. You see the steady saw tooth progression of the CTL line. This represents the pattern that the first four and a half months fell into. A few bigger/harder days and few easy days. The intervals were short, hard and often. There wasn’t a lot of threshold riding, there was a lot of supra threshold riding. This continued right into the first weeks of racing where multiple races where raced. You’ll notice the big dip in the blue line. This is where significantly less training per day was being done. Once we got through this period we started a push towards the first major race of the season. You’ll notice the blue line starts trending up. If you were to look at a short time frame PMC you’d see a significant spike in the acute training load of this athlete. The duration’s and intervals changed to reflect the specificity of the events that were being focused on for the season. This athlete had to do more to maintain and increase their fitness as they acquired more fitness. The next major dip in the blue line represents a mid season break from training. This was a 7-10 day break from training to help manage fatigue loads. The build up that followed was much like the previous ramp up. The ATL was very steep, representing lots of work in a short period of time, but not short workouts. The next major dip was work related that required a couple of weeks of almost around the clock work. This curtailed training and you can see that as the blue line drops. This was followed by two more ramp ups with some drops due to work related stuff. Each of these build ups had an ATL that was much steeper then the long term CTL you are seeing here. This TSS was achieve with some very long rides and runs acquiring large amounts of TSS in a very few workouts and little TSS in the rest of their workouts. Frequency also dropped a little compared to early in the season in some sports. The final ramp up saw this athlete achieve some of their highest ATL numbers of the year and near season high CTL numbers. This huge increase in ATL led into tapering which allowed both short and long term CTL to drop.

Hopefully you can now understand that ATL and CTL influence each other and how both have to be managed for a successful season. By looking at the CTL, short and long term, and the athletes race schedule, you can learn to manipulate training loads to be at optimal fitness for the races that matter. This allows you to do the training that matters so you can get results that matter at the races that matter.

Christmas in Lights

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by brianestover

My neighborhood goes a little nuts during the holidays, in both a good and bad way. It’s good because every single night during the holiday season there is a party going on in my neighborhood. I walk the dog at night and it’s an endless supply of free beer on our 1.6 or 2 mile loops. You can’t beat that. It’s also awesome because everything is lit up and no cars! We don’t allow cars in the neighborhood unless you live here except for a couple of drive through nights. I’m not kidding, every entrance in or out is manned by police and has barricades across it. It’s like we live in a compound, a good compound, happy, full of holiday cheer compound not a Waco like compound. We charge people a can good to get in the neighborhood. We raise several tons of food for the Community Food bank to help feed those less fortunate. You like karaoke? We have it. Live music? That also. Community theater? That as well. Bright lights? Big cities? Gingerbread houses? Check, check and check.

Did you know the first Community Food Bank in the world was started in Phoenix AZ? Neither did I until I volunteered at that food bank a few months ago.

One of the drawbacks of being in our neighborhood during the holiday season is running around your house naked forgetting the blinds are open and 1000+ people are walking through the neighborhood each night. Of course you typically only do that once per season until you realize that at any given moment there are 5-250 strangers standing in front of your house staring at your lights and taking pictures. Nothing like adding the full Monty to your holiday display. On the two nights they allow cars, my cul de sac becomes a traffic jam. I try to put a good movie on for them to watch as they sit parked in front of my house for 10-15 minutes at a time. Next year Episode 6 of Star Wars, mark your calendars. It took me 12 minutes to drive the quarter mile up my street to my house. I might be able to still run 2 miles in that time if I had to. But fortunately we have police at every entrance. I just have to run there if someone is chasing me.

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

The weekend before everything kicks off we have cranes running around stringing lights on every tree that can support lights. When I say we, I mean my neighbors not me just so there isn’t any confusion. Some people take this way too seriously in my neighborhood. Not to mention two or three cherry pickers and more ladders then Home Depot stocks at any one time. You actually have to reserve one of these cranes, well in advance, if you need it to string lights in your trees. Demand is that high.

What does all this madness look like? Out of the 125 or so houses in my neighborhood only about 10 don’t have some display set up. The displays run from needing their own coal fired power plant to keep them on to somewhat more environmentally friendly. Here is a small sampling of what it looks like at night. If you go into space I’ve heard rumors that Nasa can pick out my neighborhood. We even spread cheer to astronauts.

I should star planning the Star Wars/Grinch theme’d display now to get a jump on next holiday season.












Making News

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , on December 22, 2012 by brianestover

Nick Baldwin was interviewed recently by the world’s biggest triathlon site. You can read about him, his globe trotting ways and what his plans are for 2013 by clicking the link below.

2013 Kicking Off

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by brianestover

2012 hasn’t left the building, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the 2013 racing season. Racing season seems to start earlier and earlier for me as a coach. 11 out of the last 12 months have seen someone race.

While it’s winter here in the northern hemisphere it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. Summer means racing, and if you are an Accelerate 3 athlete it means winning.

One of the newest Accelerate 3 athletes Janine, a Canadian living in Australia, raced the Western Australia Sprint Triathlon Championships. I think she was a little nervous racing the day after a couple of big sessions, but since it’s a sprint, no rest for the weary, just get out there and knock it out. Knock it out she did. Janine set a PB on the course and for all three events. She finished 3rd overall, winning her age group, becoming the state champion…again, and was the second amateur on the day beating out almost all the pro’s. Which is never a shabby thing.

On the bike

On the bike

Although not a pic from this race, after seeing this and a few other pics of her position we were able to make a lot of changes to make her more aerodynamic with no reduction in power output.

Now that the bar is set high, I’ve got my work cut out for me to help the rest clear the initial hurdle.

The End and Beginning

Posted in Triathlon with tags , , , , on December 2, 2012 by brianestover

The 2012 racing season has finally wrapped up for Accelerate 3 athletes. The last two races of 2012 were last weekend. 2013 has kicked off for everyone in some shape or form.

Daniel raced on the spur of the moment at the San Dimas Turkey Triathlon. He was able to grab 12th overall and win his age group.

Closing in on the finish line

Closing in on the finish line

Down in Mexico Jenny was finishing off her age group career with Ironman Cozumel. Although going into the race she wasn’t 100% sure she was going to take her pro card. The big question was what does she do if she qualifies for Kona?

What started out as a great day for her with the 4th best female swim of the field soon turned into a nightmare. She got a flat early in the ride. Even though she had a spare kit, she and the race mechanics struggled to get the tire off the rim costing her 15-20 minutes. At the end of the day those minutes cost her a top 3 spot in her age group and a Kona slot. She still turned in a finish that most would be happy to claim, crossing the line 5th in her age group.

With Daniel and Jenny turning in two good performances, it’s a great way to send off the 2012 racing season.