Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tracking Performance With the Power Meter

I have been using the CyclingPeaks software with my power meter to track my performance this year and to help me predict a peak in fitness. I have been interested in it this week to see how all this time off the bike will affect any chance I have of finishing the season strong.

The Yellow line is a calculation of TSB (training stress balance) and measures my ability to be "fresh". A positive TSB would mean that either I am peaking or sick. The more negative TSB is, the more I am training and adding stress to my body. Ideally you get a very negative TSB and then let off the gas slowly over a short time to "peak". I have identified two places on the chart where my TSB was very positive and these were boughts of illness, not tapers.

The red line is the acute training load (ATL) and shows how daily stresses are affecting me. The blue line is the chronic training load (CTL) and this monitors acute stress over time. Ideally, ATL will be opposite TSB and CTL should decrease or level off as a person tapers. Also, ideally, you want to come into your race season with a very high level of CTL and then back it off until your peaking race period.

This tool was valuable in training because I could see my ATL telling me that I was training too much/not enough. I could judge my ability to compete by te CTL and how high I got it as I entered the 'cross season and TSB was very important as i saw how races affected it and more importantly, how I was recovering from such efforts.

Lastly, it is a great visual record of your work done throughout the season and represents you, almost as a work of art.

As you can see the TSB right now as I recover from illness is 21.8, up from 2.1 on November 26th, the date of my last good cross related workout, and up from -9.4 which was the TSB measurement after the Marietta 'cross race. So I have come up dramatically and I wish this was only a taper, but you have to play the cards you were delt and next weekend will hurt for sure as I try to salvage any remaining hopes of a title shot.

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