Training Peaks and Training Plans Q's

  • Creator
  • #35017

    I just started my first training plan after reading TFNS and I’m not sure if I’m missing something on TP. A few questions:

    1) I see the daily training schedule and how to enter data into it, which is pretty similar to what I had set up manually with TFNA and weekly training logs. Is there more here than just record keeping?

    2) Perhaps related, is there more documentation on TP details somewhere? Things like what the metrics “Fitness (CTL)”, “Fatique (ATL)” and “Form (TSB)” specifically refer to and how they’re calculated. (These and many others aren’t in their Intro to TP Metrics section.)

    3) For TP, it seems we need to calculate our heart rate zone ranges and enter this information manually — ?

    4) I’ve read through the numerous forum posts and articles on aerobic/anaerobic thresholds, zones, etc., and it’s still a bit confusing with different testing methods and changes from what’s in TFNA. I’ve come up with what seems to reliably be my top of Zone 2 / Aerobic Threshold / Ventillatory Threshold (these seem to be the same?) where the limit of comfortable nose breathing occurs, a stable HR and pace I can sustain for long periods. I then calculated my zones based on TFNA and this article ( Is this correct-ish?

    Zone Limits
    1 AeT-20% -> AeT-10%
    2 AeT-10% -> AeT, AeT=80% HR max*
    3 80-90% HR max
    4 90-95% HR max

    *I used my AeT to estimate my HR max and limits of zones 3 and 4 for now because I’m easing back in to running after an injury.

    5) Does TP actually use these zone settings for something?

    Thanks. Hoping to up my endurance without injury this time around.

  • Participant
    todd.struble on #35020

    1) Fundamentally, Training Peaks is a glorified training log and planning tool. There’s nothing magic about the numbers it spits out, but it does make it much more organized and I have found it really useful for planning and tracking. Steve House did a video on some of the more useful features of Training Peaks here:

    2) CTL, ATL, and TSB are pretty simple. There’s a little question mark next to the numbers on your Training Peaks main dashboard with definitions and links to more info. CTL = 42 day average of your daily TSS. ATL = 7 day average. TSB is just CTL – ATL. Conceptually, think of CTL as what you’ve been able to maintain over 6 weeks. ATL is what you did this week. If you’re building, what you did this week (ATL) should be a bit more than what you’ve been doing (CTL) and thus your form should be a bit negative. If you’re tapering, then you should see your form shoot up.

    3) Yes, you need to enter your zone ranges manually. You can use whatever zone system you like, and Training Peaks will track all of your charts and things automatically.

    4) Seems correct-ish to me, except I don’t think the % of Max HR is useful – all of these numbers vary from person to person. From what I can tell, there are several different ways to define the metabolic point we’re aiming to train below. AeT, VT1, Nose-Breathing, a certain lactate amount in your blood – and our metabolic system changes daily based on a million different factors. It’s like one of those things that you can go as far down the rabbit hole as you want. I thought about putting a lactate meter on my Christmas list (but didn’t…). If you followed the UA protocols and you feel like you got numbers that made sense and correlated with what you expect, I think you’re in “good enough” territory. For what it’s worth, what’s helped me is that maxim of “it’s much better to train well below your AeT than it is to train above it even a little bit” – and use everything I know to make sure I stay below it. If I tested my AeT HR at 150 but I’m struggling to nose-breathe at 150, I’ll slow down. If I’m easily nose-breathing but my HR is above 150, I’ll slow down. If my legs feel heavy but my HR is under 150 and I’m nose-breathing, maybe I’ll slow it down anyway so it feels like I could sustain it all day.

    5) The zone settings don’t matter in TP per se, but it will help you track how much volume you’ve done in each zone which is useful. In terms of if it matters to Training Peaks, my understanding is that the ONLY number that Training Peaks uses to calculate TSS is your “Threshold Heartrate” (I think even the “Threshold Pace” doesn’t do anything for hrTSS but it might for rTSS – someone else more knowledgeable than me might be able to answer.) BUT – if you’re using the Uphill Athlete zone system, the “Threshold HR” is what UA would consider the Anaerobic Threshold, so you would enter in your “Threshold HR” to whatever you are using for the top of Zone 3/Bottom of Zone 4. You can have Training Peaks to recommend a threshold number for you – I think their definition of their Threshold HR is what you can maintain for one hour at maximum effort. 100 TSS is supposed to be that effort. It’s important to remember that 1) it’s a personalized number – what I can maintain for 1 hour maximum effort is really different than what the pros can maintain for 1 hour – but in our Training Peaks we’d both get 100 TSS for the effort; and 2) it’s an “imperfect-but-the-best-we-have” proxy – if your threshold number is off in TP by a bit maybe it changes your TSS numbers to be off by a few percent which in the scheme of things probably doesn’t matter. The terrain won’t care if your CTL is off by 10% or not. In general the thing that’s useful in TP are the trends – how much fatigue are you carrying and are you building gradually and modulating – TP helps you visualize that information really well.

    Anonymous on #35096


    Todd did a great job explaining things so I am not sure I can add much clarity here. I’ll keep it brief.

    1&2) TP is a very powerful training logging platform when used appropriately. A very quick Google search netted me this and this. There is much more available to explain how the metrics work. The main one we concern ourselves with is TSS. And we use heart rate to gage the training stress score. From this CTL is calculated using a backward looking algorithm for the last 6 weeks. It’s a weighted and non-linear running average of TSS so that recent workouts impact CTL (fitness) more heavily than those you did 6 weeks ago. While hrTSS is the least accurate it is what we as mountain athletes are relegated to using. So, we try to make it match the fatigue load felt in each workout. Since HR is a poor proxy for intensity and effort and fatigue we adjust it a bit. We add 10TSS for each 1000ft gained and lost. We add 10TSS for each 10% of body weight carried. But the most important thing is to be consistent in scoring your workouts. If you do that then CTL, ATL and TSB will paint a pretty decent picture in the Performance Management chart.

    3)Zones; Yes you need to manually enter your zones. Remove the extra zones so that you only have 4. Relabel them Zone 1,2, 3 and 4.

    4) Have you read this I think it will answer many of your questions about how to determine these two important thresholds.

    5) TP will use the anaerobic threshold (top of Z3) to calculate hrTSS so having this threshold nailed down will help make the TP metrics more accurate.

    I hope this helps.


    Raz on #35114

    Thanks for the detailed explanations and links Todd and Scott. Much clearer now how TP is useful in tracking training stress and fatigue load — those are big concerns to me not just for endurance training but in avoiding further injury. I’m just coming back after upper hamstring tendinopathy that was certainly the result of overuse and lack of recovery time when training for a mountaineering course. TFNA was excellent at explaining why the recovery time is needed!

    I hadn’t found the TP glossary page — that’s very helpful. (I’d been thinking a negative “Form” score meant I was in poor form somehow!)

    The AeT/AnT Self-Assessment is what I used for my AeT, however I haven’t tested AnT yet because I’m ramping my running back up and won’t be training in that range at all at first. I’m pretty comfortable with the AeT — I’m being careful to keep it at a pace I feel like I can sustain and the HR of my nose-breathing limit is very consistent.

    Raz on #35616

    We add 10TSS for each 1000ft gained and lost. We add 10TSS for each 10% of body weight carried.

    How is the weight carried factored into TP’s TSS calculation? There is a place to enter elevation gain, but I don’t see anything for including extra weight.

    Also, I noticed now that the 14-day trial is expired TP only calculates TSS, no Fitness/Form/Fatigue scores. Unless you spring for a $20/mo or $120 annual subscription, which is kind of crazy high! So other than the TSS, all the base version does is serve as an electronic log book.

    I did find general descriptions of how CTL/ATL and Form are calculated, and set up my own spreadsheet to track them. It took a little trial and error in matlab to get an exponential weighting curve that tracks the one in TP, but I’m getting numbers that are close to what I was seeing my trial period.

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