Forum home Road cycling forum Training, fitness and health

Link between CTL and Performance

cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
edited September 2017 in Training, fitness and health
Having signed up to Training Peaks around a month ago, and subsequently read Joe Friel's Training Bible and got my head round all the numbers, I've got a couple of questions.

Mainly: is there any linear relationship with CTL and race performance? I’ve been surprised by reading blogs of elite level racers recently who have a far lower CTL (80ish) than me (100+ in August), yet I know they’d smoke me in a race.

I know there’s a lot of other factors not included in CTL like natural ability, specificity of training and aerodynamics/equipment, but is there benefit in consciously trying to increase CTL, or is it best to do the training and let CTL take care of itself?

I get paranoid when I do shorter sessions with low TSS which lead to a fall in CTL and think I’m regressing when I’m probably not…

Posts

  • I think the biggest factor is the specificity, my CTL was around 50 for most of the season when I was time trialling, I got progressively faster and outputted more power as the season went on without any increase in CTL. The only reason I think I progressed was because of the type of training I was doing, it was all with a purpose. My CTL is now at 56 and will go up around 60 in the next month off similar hours but the composition is totally different. (I'm just riding my bike, albeit hard).

    But I'm confident that although my CTL is 6 points higher I wouldn't PB at 10 miles given the same conditions.
  • I think there is definitely a link between CTL and performance, but it takes a lot of data to make it meaningful, my best performances have come at a CTL of over 100 but my TSB had dropped to a nice low level as I had tapered a little for the events. However it is all relative to the right kind of training for the event. A long endurance ride is going to give a high TSS score and raise the CTL but if that's all you do you wont win a road race. So it is a tool that you have to learn to analyse to your own specifics. Train, observe your CTL and TSB relationship and compare with results or feeling. It will take time to use it more accurately but can certainly help you peak.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    I think there is definitely a link between CTL and performance, but it takes a lot of data to make it meaningful, my best performances have come at a CTL of over 100 but my TSB had dropped to a nice low level as I had tapered a little for the events. However it is all relative to the right kind of training for the event. A long endurance ride is going to give a high TSS score and raise the CTL but if that's all you do you wont win a road race. So it is a tool that you have to learn to analyse to your own specifics. Train, observe your CTL and TSB relationship and compare with results or feeling. It will take time to use it more accurately but can certainly help you peak.

    Interesting. That's one of the things I've found most useful since signing up, namely going back in time to when I've beaten my Richmond Park lap PB or climbed Swain's Lane the fastest and then seeing how my form/fatigue/training had been in the days and weeks in the lead up to it.
  • EBEBEBEB Posts: 98
    CTL is based on a formula that uses TSS
    TSS is based on a formula that uses NP
    NP is based on a very simple and computationally easy formula that is on the Training Peaks website

    There is no reason to think physiology would be accurately represented by that very simple normalised power curve. There is even less reason to think the shape of the curve should be the same for different people.

    Add to that you are probably calculating your FTP using another formula....& TSB is even more abstract from anything real.

    You may also go swimming, running or to the gym, in which case the formulas all change again....

    I'm not suggesting it is completely useless, but it needs to be taken with a huge pinch of salt, particularly given the cultish unquestioning devotion many have to Training Peaks.

    The NP formula could be done with devices that have small processors and little memory and made more sense at the time it was developed. Adjusting the constants in the formula for different people was also difficult. None of these limitations extend to TrainerRoad/Sufferfest etc. They don't even apply to modern bike computers. The church of training peaks may succeed in suppressing heretical thought, but I would not be surprised if there are better alternatives developed.
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    Is that you Trev??
  • marykamaryka Posts: 748
    HIgh CTL* for me leads to more consistent "good legs" week in and out. When I was carrying 100+ I rarely had a bad day on the bike. But it takes me a good 15hrs a week to get up and more importantly stay up over 110 so it's a luxury that not many can afford to have, I suspect.

    Otherwise, once it reaches a minimum level to provide the endurance to be comfortable in a road race (which depends on the person, probably 80ish for me) I don't think it points to performance that much unless you're either doing stage racing or your races are well over 3.5hrs.

    * without the associated high ATL, so under normal conditions, not post training-camp.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    maryka wrote:
    HIgh CTL* for me leads to more consistent "good legs" week in and out. When I was carrying 100+ I rarely had a bad day on the bike. But it takes me a good 15hrs a week to get up and more importantly stay up over 110 so it's a luxury that not many can afford to have, I suspect.

    Otherwise, once it reaches a minimum level to provide the endurance to be comfortable in a road race (which depends on the person, probably 80ish for me) I don't think it points to performance that much unless you're either doing stage racing or your races are well over 3.5hrs.

    * without the associated high ATL, so under normal conditions, not post training-camp.

    Makes sense, guess the longer the event the more endurance is a factor and the more high CTL will be useful.

    Whilst shorter events require more specificity like 20 min power, sprinting and ability to recover fast from efforts. Training those things will increase CTL depending on volume, but it's not the CTL that makes you sprint faster, it's the sprint training.
  • cgfw201 wrote:
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    I think there is definitely a link between CTL and performance, but it takes a lot of data to make it meaningful, my best performances have come at a CTL of over 100 but my TSB had dropped to a nice low level as I had tapered a little for the events. However it is all relative to the right kind of training for the event. A long endurance ride is going to give a high TSS score and raise the CTL but if that's all you do you wont win a road race. So it is a tool that you have to learn to analyse to your own specifics. Train, observe your CTL and TSB relationship and compare with results or feeling. It will take time to use it more accurately but can certainly help you peak.

    Interesting. That's one of the things I've found most useful since signing up, namely going back in time to when I've beaten my Richmond Park lap PB or climbed Swain's Lane the fastest and then seeing how my form/fatigue/training had been in the days and weeks in the lead up to it.
    Incidentally, you could swap to Golden Cheetah, does pretty much the same as TP but is free.
  • cgfw201cgfw201 Posts: 669
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    cgfw201 wrote:
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    I think there is definitely a link between CTL and performance, but it takes a lot of data to make it meaningful, my best performances have come at a CTL of over 100 but my TSB had dropped to a nice low level as I had tapered a little for the events. However it is all relative to the right kind of training for the event. A long endurance ride is going to give a high TSS score and raise the CTL but if that's all you do you wont win a road race. So it is a tool that you have to learn to analyse to your own specifics. Train, observe your CTL and TSB relationship and compare with results or feeling. It will take time to use it more accurately but can certainly help you peak.

    Interesting. That's one of the things I've found most useful since signing up, namely going back in time to when I've beaten my Richmond Park lap PB or climbed Swain's Lane the fastest and then seeing how my form/fatigue/training had been in the days and weeks in the lead up to it.
    Incidentally, you could swap to Golden Cheetah, does pretty much the same as TP but is free.

    I'd consider it if I owned a computer, but I'm 100% mobile & tablet now so it's not an option.
  • AK_jnrAK_jnr Posts: 717
    Interesting to hear real world examples of what ball park figure hints at good results in road races.
    It also explains why I challenge for wins in crits but get dropped in road races. Lol I weigh 70kg so should really be doing better in RR's but I think my highest CTL has only been 60 odd.
  • The CTL graph reflects the training stress applied to YOUR body, is tied to your FTP, and solely outlines YOUR performance. The performance reflected by a CTL chart at 100TSS/day for an amateur racer is completely different from a 100TSS/day chart of an elite racer. The latter has years of accumulated training and most importantly genetic advantage/talent.

    All the CTL graph tells you is how quickly your body can recover (or take stress) following a workout. If you are at a CTL of 50TSS/day and you perform a workout that produces 150TSS, then it will take you longer to recover than doing the same workout while being at a CTL of 100TSS/day. Having said that, this is where ATL (stress) comes in play. The above statement assumes that your ATL is at reasonable levels: You can probably reach 150TSS/day in a few weeks but this will carry A LOT of fatigue with it, and would also cause the athlete to have poor base (their fitness will not last long). This is why athletes take months of periodised training to reach these high TSS/day...so they can keep their ATL in check and not let their bodies break down and also bring about meaningful adaptations.

    Also, CTL has little correlation with FTP. I was on 4.7w/kg at the end of my racing season when my CTL was at 110TSS/day and at 4.4w/kg at the beginning of the training season after a month off the bike where my CTL dropped to only 40TSS/day. CTL roughly tells you how long you can go before your body cannot take it anymore.

    Conclusion:
    Your CTL means something ONLY TO YOU and how well YOU can handle stress at a specific point in time. The higher your CTL the better you can recover from a given workout. FTP increase, only comes due to the fact that your body can take more stress as you increase your CTL. This increase will be greater for untrained athletes rather than athletes who have been training for years and have come closer to their genetic limitations.
  • apos00 wrote:
    The CTL graph reflects the training stress applied to YOUR body, is tied to your FTP, and solely outlines YOUR performance. The performance reflected by a CTL chart at 100TSS/day for an amateur racer is completely different from a 100TSS/day chart of an elite racer. The latter has years of accumulated training and most importantly genetic advantage/talent.

    All the CTL graph tells you is how quickly your body can recover (or take stress) following a workout. If you are at a CTL of 50TSS/day and you perform a workout that produces 150TSS, then it will take you longer to recover than doing the same workout while being at a CTL of 100TSS/day. Having said that, this is where ATL (stress) comes in play. The above statement assumes that your ATL is at reasonable levels: You can probably reach 150TSS/day in a few weeks but this will carry A LOT of fatigue with it, and would also cause the athlete to have poor base (their fitness will not last long). This is why athletes take months of periodised training to reach these high TSS/day...so they can keep their ATL in check and not let their bodies break down and also bring about meaningful adaptations.

    Also, CTL has little correlation with FTP. I was on 4.7w/kg at the end of my racing season when my CTL was at 110TSS/day and at 4.4w/kg at the beginning of the training season after a month off the bike where my CTL dropped to only 40TSS/day. CTL roughly tells you how long you can go before your body cannot take it anymore.

    Conclusion:
    Your CTL means something ONLY TO YOU and how well YOU can handle stress at a specific point in time. The higher your CTL the better you can recover from a given workout. FTP increase, only comes due to the fact that your body can take more stress as you increase your CTL. This increase will be greater for untrained athletes rather than athletes who have been training for years and have come closer to their genetic limitations.

    Pretty much.

    Suggest OP reads this:
    https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/the- ... e-manager/

    in particular the final section "APPLYING THE PERFORMANCE MANAGER CONCEPT".
Sign In or Register to comment.