Andrew- Glad to hear you’re recovering from the big days for the most part. I do think it’s worth putting an emphasis on skills type training as that’s one of the most important things were being successful in the mountains if not the most important depending on the objective. One thing I would look at is how much TSS these big days have that is causing your CTL (blue line) to jump so much. In general long days that have a high technical component usually don’t have a ridiculously high average heart rate and thus the corresponding TSS score should be relatively modest assuming that you’re using heart rate TSS. I would go in and check the threshold heart rate setting under the default heart rate in settings. This is the number that controls your total heart rate TSS for each session. Many times this is still the default setting and needs to be raised to what your AnT is. (I.e. 160 not 130 or similar for instance) This should result in hrTSS scores that are 40 to 50 TSS per hour on long days where there’s lots of technical climbing where you’re stopping to belay etc. Etc.
Assuming all these settings are in order then the second thing to look at is how much your CTL is climbing on average over a period of weeks. When folks first start tracking their training and their CTL is say below 50 then I don’t worry about big numerical jumps occasionally. Once your CTL is well established and something between 50 and 100 then you shouldn’t be raising it by more than about five points per week for many weeks in a row unless you have a really really well developed base. In general I think of over training of some thing that doesn’t actually happen on any one given day where you’re overreaching but much more of a chronic issue where you are under resting for many days and likely weeks in a row without letting your body recover. This is also one of the keys to the consolidation week as it really lets your body have a good reset from the preceding three or four weeks of abuse. Hope this helps!
I wanted to share a question I asked via email before my forums were working an ask a follow up:
Questions- what are your thoughts on big days in the middle of training? Days that are way more effort than where you’re at in the cycle but are already commitments.. Compensate by more rest days and starting again when general feeling of tiredness is gone?
Answer from Mark:
It depends a bit on the scale of the objectives but in general of course you can sub in big days as needed. A few things to consider, you will want to scale back the training of course before the event to show up a bit rested then allow adequate recovery afterwards before diving back into training full bore. i generally avoid high intensity work on the recovery side and do some very gentle work that stimulates the aerobic system but doesnt have a high recovery demand. It can be a good time for things like hiking/cycling/rowing/swimming even that arent super sport specific but will get your HR up into the desired zone. You can also ease back into strength work as the body allows but i tend to avoid dynamic work like jumping movements for a bit.
If you have a really solid training base then you’ll tend to bounce back more quickly from really big days and wont need to have a big layoff after. Just try and be quite self aware and not over do it on the return and prioritze good quality sleep in the days following to enhance the recovery.
Follow Up Questions: In general I feel like I have recovered well from bigger days (Which seems to be too often), but a lot of times I feel these days are necessary for more technical skills I am working on. When I look at my fitness chart in training peaks the blue line jolts up after these long days and then seems to hold the new level and increase from there.. Is this where overtraining becomes a risk? If I have a relatively strong base and feel fine should I continue this even if it’s not prescribed training?
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