ATC 339: Using TSS and CTL To Your Advantage, Master’s Athlete MAF Progression, And More

April 8, 2022
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Making Use of TSS & CTL: Pros and Cons

  • Lucho is using these metrics on himself for the first time ever; there’s a difference between coaching them and feeling them
  • CTL
    • Stands for chronic training load.
    • The accumulation of 6 weeks stress/42 days.
    • Don’t aim for a certain CTL number because that will drive you to avoid rest.
    • Rest weeks cause a drop in CTL.
    • Ramp rate: how fast you want to bring CTL up.
    • Is it not factoring rest enough?
    • Doesn’t look at performance, per se; can’t guarantee results.
    • It is useful to gauge the past 42 days and be mindful of the ramp rate.
    • You can reach the end result in different ways, some ways more sustainable than others.
    • Lucho isn’t going over 120 CTL for his Ironman training.
  • TSS
    • Crossover between using TSS as you would mileage
    • TSS was developed for cycling, using wattage
    • But there’s an art to adapting run TSS and swim TSS to the plan.
      • Running is load bearing, and just different than biking in the stimulus provides.
    • Good to use TSS to gauge trends, whether the end of the week or over more time, and can compare with total volume.
    • Lucho is using TSS to push him that extra bit but not too much.
    • TSS lacks the context of a workout’s structure; it doesn’t tell you how you got to X TSS.
    • TSS isn’t that great for just looking at individual days, using it for trends over time is more useful.
    • Also, use TSS as caps!
    • Always always make sure you take into consideration other variables.
    • With TSS, fatigue accumulation may make back-to-back subsequent workouts feel harder yet this is not reflected in TSS–there’s a correlation but not one that is official or measured.
      • So use your holistic measures to gauge, this is the art of coaching and tracking athletes.

Michael asks:

Progressing Run Fitness with MAF, Using the Right Heart Rates and Methodology?

My age is just about 60. I have been an endurance athlete for over 20 years. Using 180-60 and adding 5 more beats, I am trying to target a 115-125 heart rate. However, my normal easy “all day” runs without looking at my watch are about 115 bpm. If I increase my pace so that I approach 120 or even 125 bpm, my actual running pace would enter tempo pace. I have the opposite situation that I’ve read from most people using MAF. I need to speed up to hit my HR target, not slow down. Any advice?

What the coaches say:

  • MAF test looks great, he is fit, starting off in a great place. Very little drop off in pace in a 7-mile MAF test, which is good. Consider longer MAF tests to see when drop-off takes place (same goes for the bike).
  • Don’t increase heart rate for MAF but add some intensity; do a more polarized approach on the run but not the bike.
  • Run is the one discipline that has the most injury risk so no need to risk it for Ironman.
  • Come at this more from a triathlete’s perspective not a marathoner’s perspective.
  • Goal pace for the Ironman marathon matters in how you approach volume.
  • Heart rate on the bike isn’t always the same- generally, the bike is about 5-10 bpm lower on the bike than the run due to less muscular engagement.
  • Benefits of MAF are health and prevents you from running too hard, and the benefit will stay there even if you do different methods on the bike… but MAF alone on the run could be affected; just depends.
  • Lower run mileage for Ironman training, maybe 30 mpw is the best? (Bike the most, run the second most, and swim the least—volume-wise).
  • As you’re adapting to the bike and swim, stay at MAF on the run, and then when bike/swim fitness progresses you can add more intensity on the run.
  • MAF range can be 110-130 bpm, this allows for individual variability on any given day; our RPE can change on a given day due to other factors (don’t micromanage).
  • Vo2 max is the most important for master’s athletes (the thing we lose the quickest and easiest as we age) so make sure it’s not neglected over the course of the training program; can also do threshold.
  • Save tempo for the final build up to the race.

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