So I’ve downloaded the Training Peaks app. This does all kinds of spooky, but kind of convenient stuff. The web interface gives you an excellent calendar view of your training plan (in the picture at the top of this post), and sets up an iCal/Google/Outlook calendar which you subscribe to. This rather spookily puts your training plan into your calendar (don’t worry; that’s not the spooky part…). Then you can also set your Garmin to sync with Training Peaks. And then the spooky starts… Your calendar tells you as an ‘all day event’ (in iCal terms) that you have to run, and the expected distance is somewhere in the details of the appointment. Then you run, and your Garmin syncs to Training Peaks which then updates your calendar by moving the appointment *to the time you actually ran* and colouring it red or green, depending on whether you did (green) or didn’t (red) hit the planned distance. Go on, admit it! That’s pretty damn spooky!
There are also a number of performance metrics which, if I’m totally honest, I don’t *entirely* understand. (you can click on these thumbnails to embiggen them if you’re hard of seeing…)
In the above snapshots, the Performance Management line mixed graph is from the PC view, and the little bar charts are from the phone app. The pie chart for completed duration simply breaks your hours of exercise down into type. In my case this week, 2:11 hours of running and a measly 25 minutes of strength training (Tabatas, baby!!). There is also a simple fitness summary for those who prefer numbers. It gives you the weekly totals for duration, distance, calories, elevation gained, elevation lost and score for TSS and Intensity Factor (IF). I’ll come back to those. And there is a simple distance achieved against plan. Nice and self explanatory…
I can also see a line graph of today’s fitness score (CTL) with a graph for the last 7, 28, 90 and 365 days. This screen also gives me today’s fatigue score (ATL) – so I can tell Mr P with authority that I am 43.9 tired (or fucking pooped. You choose). And today’s form score (TSB) which is -4.8. This one I understand. When I’m fresh as a crisp, dew-moist lettuce, my score will be 0. This measures how far I am from that. So according to Training Peaks, I’m not bad, on the freshness front. My legs have the screaming DOMs, my knees are requiring careful foot placement, and even my ankles are thinking of leaving home, but apparently it’s all coming together nicely… I’m also given a screen with a simple duration bar chart – how long I spent working out each day. Finally, I have a bar chart showing me my TSS on each of the last 7 days.
And the big graph brings the whole thing together. It gives me a red dot for TSS, and a blue dot for Intensity Factor; the pink graph traces my Acute Training Load (ATL). The slate graph is my Chronic Training Load (CTL). And the yellow graph is my Training Stress Balance (TSB). All well and good. That’s a lot of information. But what does it mean? I’ve had two useful emails to help my unpick all of that. The one from Training Peaks themselves says:
Performance Management Chart (PMC)
The PMC is one of the most powerful charts available in TrainingPeaks, helping you visualize your current fitness (CTL), fatigue (ATL), and form (TSB) which will allow you to reach your best performances. Predict changes in your PMC with planned workouts, and set up multiple sport or date specific PMCs to monitor and predict your fitness. Watch this video to learn more about the PMC.
(I haven’t watched the video yet, but I can see that these will be useful data, when there’s enough of them…)
However, altogether clearer is this explanation from a triathlete friend who is a long time user of the tool:
TSS = How hard it was.
TSB(?maybe) = how ready to smash it (fresh like lettuce baby) race at 0. Train lower to reach 0 at race day. (I am currently -28) also a measure of how fucked you are see below.
ATL = how fucked you are
CTL = how fit you are
Yup. So I think I’ve got that.
To be honest, I’m sufficiently impressed by the spooky calendar magic that I’ll hang onto it for a while. I’m sure it’ll all make sense eventually…