My last post gave the basics of measurement and the what and how key data is collected. This post is going to focus on how that data is used in the training tool WKO to actually make sure I am getting the most out of each workout but first lets talk about that for a second.
We have all been there. I wake up early, go to the gym because I feel like I have to but am not motiviated. Talk to a few friends, go through the motions on a few machines, maybe jog slow on the treadmill for a little bit, basically "phone in" the workout. I then go home, eat a big mac and fries and then wonder why I am not losing any weight. Other days, wake up energized, go for a swim or a run and just really kill it and leave exhausted but know I have really worked hard that day. Both of these are a function of efficiency in your workouts. I may have spent the same amount of time but obviously, one workout was using the time much more efficiently than the other. One of the reasons that I chose Jennifer and TriSmart is because her system is train smarter, not longer. We are all busy, I have many things (as you all have) competing for your focus. Work, family, charity, kids sports, you name it. The one constant is that there are only 24 hours in a day so getting the most efficient workout is so much better than getting a longer, inefficient workout (for me anyway). The TriSmart system is based upon using data and determining the best and most efficient workout to maximize readiness for you goals. Think of it as replacing quality for quantity. If I was retired, if my kids were grown and out of the house and I was looking for things to do with my time I very well might commit to 20+ hours a week of triathlon training and choose the quantity route over quality because to be honest, I have really enjoyed my training. However, this is reality and time is the most valuable thing that I have. Soooooo.... using the data to get the most efficient workouts in the shortest amount of time appealed to me.
What happens with all of this data? Let me start by saying there is a TON of things that are measured, however, I am going to focus on the three most important things for me. Below is a graph that is a summary of my physical life since November of last year.
It looks really complex but it really isn't. Let me explain.:
The crimson line represents my Acute Training Load (ATL). This line represents how hard I am working over the last couple of days. The line goes up fastest if I do a long hard workout. If I do a long workout, it causes my body stress and the line climbs. If I do a short but very very intense workout, the line climbs. If I do a really hard, really intense workout the line climbs A LOT. If I phone it in, the line doesn't move hardly at all. Look at the line on 9/6/2010. That was the 5 hour bike ride that I did with Rick Mann and Don Brown. It was a long ride as measured by distance, Heart Rate, Time(adds stress) and the hills were brutal measured by power and heart rate(add stress) and when you combine the two, this workout was a killer compared to "my baseline" as described in my previous post. If you look just to the left of this workout on 9/6 I had a recovery week. That week was filled with low intensity, shorter workout and you can see, the crimson line dropped showing that the workout stress went down for that period of time.
The Yellow Line is what is called my TSB or my Training Stress Balance. This line basically represents how fatigued I am. Another way to put it is how stressed my body is because of the workouts and (ATL). The more negative the line, the more stressed and run down I am. Theoretcially the more negative this line, the more susceptible I am to gettting sick, pulling a muscle, or possible injury. This line shows my race readiness. I would never want to race fatigued or for that matter super super rested. The goal is to have this line around zero on race day or even slightly less than zero. For me, I race best if this number is between 0 and negative 4ish. It may be different for others but we have found that has worked good for me so far. Just as a side bar, the last two and only times I have gotten Strep throat in my life were the weeks following Quartermax (very high intesity, 3 hour effort) and ironically enough the weeks following my 1/2 IM in Racine (high intensity 5+hour effort. I got sick each time within 2 weeks of these big efforts an the subsequent builds for these big efforts. Based on this, I should probably get a doctors appointment for the first or second week in December :-)
The last line (the blue line) Cumulative Training Load (CTL) and is my relative fitness and is the most important of all. The higher the number, the more fit I am. For longer duration races like the IRONMAN I want this number to be as high as possible without getting sick or getting injured. This is the fine line that has to be walked between now and the event. If through intense training we try to make it climb too quickly and I get hurt or sick it derails my fitness and I actually lose ground during the extended recovery. That is why taking a day off (Monday)during builds and having a recovery week every 4th week is key for me. When you look at the graph, last week was a huge week of training for me (actually the biggest to date). It resulted in my highest acute stress (crimson line), my most negative Traning Stress Balance (yellow line) and resulted in a significant spike in fitness (blue line). Monday was a much needed day of rest and you can see all three lines showed recovery before I start to build again yesterday (Tuesday). The bad thing about all of this is it is relative to me and since I have never done and IRONMAN before I don't know and neither does my coach where the blue line needs to be for me. Because of her experience training athletes of all distances she has an idea but there is on way to know for sure. It all needs to come together race week and "peak" at the right time. I would love it if she could tell me "get the blue line to 91 on race day and you will have a great race". However, no such thing exists but for me, it will over time. So my goal is to make it as high as possible without injury. I spend a lot of time focusing on how I am feeling and if I need to lower the intensity, I will, but I can tell you, my eyes see race day coming and my brain knows that there are only so many days, hours, and minutes to get ready so I have to be very careful that my focus on being ready does not "out yell" my more subtle voice of "how I am feeling".
Lastly, there are the red dots on the graph. The just show the 10 most intense workouts on the graph. I can assure you, most of these are either races or cycling rides with hills.
I apologize for the really long, technical post but I often speak of tired, intensity, stress, recovery etc.... and I thought it was important to share where all of this came from.
Please let me know what you think. I appreciate you reading and it goes without saying that you have an open invitiation to ask me anything about triathlon or training and I will do whatever I can to help you.
All for now