Week 16/17 – A Little Science (6/2/14-6/15/14)

Since I did a special blog post to describe my experience at the GORUCK Challenge, I thought it would make sense to combine a couple of weeks of the training blog. I completed weeks 16 and 17, on my way to the 24-week goal. With just 7 weeks to go, I’m almost at the end of the Base 3 period, and getting ready for the final training phase, Build, which will finish up just before my taper.

There is no doubt that my fitness has improved. As regular reader of this blog very well know, I track everything, and I’m able to get a good idea of how, precisely, my fitness gains have come about. One of the metrics I’m using is Chronic Training Load, or CTL. To briefly describe the concept, as you regularly stress your body during training, there is obviously a cumulative effect. The three primary “glossary” terms to consider are Training Stress Score (TSS), Acute Training Load (ATL), and the metric that I’ve already mentioned, Chronic Training Load (CTL). TSS is a calculation that takes into account both intensity and duration, thus giving a more precise measurement of workout effectiveness. At the end of this post, I’ll include definitions and formulas. For the purposes of simplicity within this post, I’ll put this in the context of cycling, although these concepts apply equally to all the disciplines.

My CTL, essentially, tells me how much training stress I’ve adapted to by this point. I strive to have my CTL improve each week. It’s a 42-day average, so one huge session, or even one pretty full week, only increases the CTL by a measured amount. From other reading I’ve done, top professionals, such as Craig Alexander or Chris Macca, have a CTL of about 140 at race time. This number is less as the ability/performance level goes down, with top age-groupers at about 120 (those qualifying for Kona.) Solid finishers in age group categories may end up between 90-100. At the beginning of my training plan, I set my CTL goal to be 112 by race day. Due to various factors, such as work, cross training for GORUCK, missed workouts, and abbreviated workouts because of home obligations, I’m behind on that goal. See the chart below for where I am as of the end of Week 17. The best I can really hope for now, if I stick to the training plan 100 percent, would be a CTL of approximately 100 on race day. As you can see in the chart, one flaw in the approach was that I intended to have a CTL of 40 when the training plan began, but I was just over 20, so I began at a huge deficit. With 7 weeks to go, the discipline has to be perfect to allow my body to perform under the stress I intend to inflict upon it…

As for the last two weeks of training, the GORUCK Challenge played heavily into the schedule. In Week 16, I missed both the long ride and long run, substituting them with that epic event. In Week 17, I had some extra recovery time. The Challenge was extraordinarily hard, and I was quite sore for about 3 days. I was back in the swing of it by Wednesday, and had two very good swim workouts during the week. I made a subtle change to my stroke technique that resulted in a great improvement in my efficiency. Given that the swim is the leg that I’m most concerned about, I’m really happy to see it coming together. All told, I did more than a half-ironman distance swim on both Thursday and Friday, followed by a strong ride on Saturday, where I rode the Ironman 70.3 course the day before the event. Even though I had to change a flat, I still finished in 2h45m, so that bodes well for the bike leg. Finally, I did a half-ironman distance run on Sunday, keeping it in zone 2 the entire run, and finished in just over 2 hours.

There’s actually a great, detailed reference here for those that are as anal-retentive as I am: http://www.endurancecorner.com/wko_definitions

So, that being said, now it’s time to start making race-day predictions… IF my discipline is good, and I stick to the training plan, and IF my nutrition is solid for next 7 weeks, and IF bad things (such as flat tires) don’t happen on race day, then… my prediction of times for the race will be as follows:

Swim: 1h25m
T1: 10m
Bike: 6h20m
T2: 5m
Run: 4h45m
Total: 12h45m

I can do better than this, I think, but I want to be realistic, at the same time. After all, it is my first full Ironman…

Alright, gotta run. On the road in Chicago for the week, and have to get those workouts in!!!

Until next week…

Train on!!!

Glossary Terms (from The Power Meter Handbook, by Joe Friel)

Normalized Power (NP): An expression of average power adjusted for the range of variability of power during a ride. A better reflection of the metabolic cost (“kiloCalories”) and effort of a ride than “average power.” In running or swimming, this would be measured as Normalized Pace (NP).

Intensity Factor (IF): The ratio of a rider’s Normalized Power to Functional Threshold Power. An indicator of how challenging the workout or segment thereof was in terms of intensity only.

Functional Threshold Power (FTP): The highest mean maximal power a rider can sustain for 60 minutes. In running or swimming, this would be measure at Functional Threshold Pace (also FTP, just to make it confusing…)

Training Stress Score (TSS): The workload of a training session based on duration and intensity. TSS = (workout duration in seconds x NP x IF) / (FTP x 3600) x 100

Acute Training Load (ATL): The recent workload of training (such as the past 7 days) as defined by the frequency, intensity, and duration. Expressed as Training Stress Score per day. It’s the average of TSS/day for the most recent 7 days.

Chronic Training Load (CTL): The workload of a relatively long period of time (such as 6 weeks) defined by the frequency, intensity, and duration. Expressed as Training Stress Score per day. It’s the average of TSS/day for the most recent 42 days.

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