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TSS, CTS, ATS, and TSB

First, todays workout: I met a few of my Hillview kids over at Marie Kerr park for a workout. We did just a few miles with a set of 13 or 14 form drills. The last time I did these, back in the summer, I remember them being painful. Today, I did them with caution, but they felt great.


Look at the graph above.. This is the performance Management Chart produced by Training Peaks. I have been using Training Peaks since last summer and I have just discovered this function. It is really cool..

What the software does is it calculates a training stress score for each run workout.  The software uses the GPS data of speed, time, elevation change, etc to determine a number to represent the stress of each workout. The calculation includes fast and slow sections so that a 6 mile speed workout gets a higher score than a 6 mile steady paced run. For example, yesterday’s 6.6 mile speed work had a score of 97 while Sunday’s hilly, but much slower 8 miler was an 88. The software can make a similar calculation for any type of workout based on heart rate. For biking, the software is supposed to get data from a power meter for its calculation.

Once it has a calculation of the stress of each workout (TSS) it calculates three things shown with the three lines above. (This graph covers the last 28 days):

  1. CTS – Chronic Training Stress – Also Known As “Fitness.”  Your current total fitness is based mostly on the workouts you have done in the preceding 6 weeks. So the software tracks a rolling 6 week average of these scores. It is a little more complicated in that the level is also somewhat dependent on the level prior to the 6 weeks. This is the BLUE line on the above chart.  You will notice that 28 days ago it was almost zero due to the two months of rest. It has been climbing nicely and steadily since then.
  2. ATS – Acute Training Stress – Also Known as “Freshness.” The PINK line above is based on the training stress of the last seven days. During a build up phase, like I am doing now, it will be much higher than the chronic stress line.
  3. TSB – Training Stress Balance. The way these graphs work, you would have the highest “fitness” right at the moment you have completed your toughest workout in preperation for a race. Looking back at data I can see the blue line peak on the days I have done my 20 mile fast finish runs – (7 mile warm up and run a half marathon.) Of course, the moment you finish that workout, you would not be ready to race without recovering first. Preceding my best marathons, the blue line drops just slightly while the Pink comes down and the Yellow line moves nicely to the positive. There was a good balance of fitness and freshness – the perfect taper.  On some of my less successful marathons the blue line plummets and the Yellow skyrockets. I was over-tapered. Too much freshness at the loss of fitness.

One cool feature, I am working on is planning with the software. If you input workouts – with the full data it will graph into the future. So, you can experiment with different options to see the effect they will have on things. I am also wondering what I can do with a heart rate monitor – perhaps I can calculate a TSS score for other types of workouts.

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