TSS for alpine days

  • Creator
  • #25195

    I am confused about how to score alpine climbing days in Training Peaks. I don’t wear a chest strap when I am doing the real thing (does anyone?), and the watch battery wouldn’t last for more than a day.

    What’s more, it seems that an alpine climb encompasses many regimes: aerobic and/or leg muscular endurance on the approach (depending on distance, elevation, gradient and pack weight), strength or upper body muscular endurance on the climb itself, plus a varying amount of belaying, snacking, resting etc.

    So how are we to score those days? The mix of the above activities can vary greatly. Do we attempt to sum them up? Doing them at 8,000ft vs. 14,000ft makes a big difference. Do we eyeball how long it takes to recover afterwards and score accordingly?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Participant
    OwenFW on #25198

    I have worn a chest strap on 12+hr alpine pushes. The hrTSS numbers can be pretty comical, along with the recovery time estimates. One time my Suunto watch told me to rest for a full week after one day climbing. Anyway, my measured, unadjusted totals for up and down seem to come out around 50 TSS for a variety of different conditions. YMMV.

    Anonymous on #25208

    I think it is important to score these big alpine days. They certainly make you tired and they certainly contribute to your fitness.

    What I do with the professional alpinists I coach is this:
    I figure 60TSS/hr for aerobic base intensity. Most likely intensity for the approach and descent. If you are racing to the base of the climb then you need to use 100TSS/hr

    I add the vertical fudge factor of 10TSS/1000ft (300m) elevation gain/loss.

    Then I adjust this again if the pack is more than 10% of body weight. Each 10% BW> 10TSS/1000ft.

    Finally I adjust for the difficulty of the climb as if it were a strength/ME workout I score this at 100TSS/hr of actual climbing (not belaying).

    Finally I monitor how long it takes to recover from these days. That allows me to go back ad tweak the TSS to bring it into line with other workouts. If an athlete’s average weekly TSS is 1000 and we are in a base building period I do not want any single workout more that 30% of that or 300 in this case. Unless we are purposely over reaching then we might see individual days of 60% of the weekly average.

    If you are trashed for 2-3 days after then you probably exceeded that 30% rule. If you are in a specific/utilization climbing phase then you may well be exceeding the 30% rule on purpose. Just be aware that your WILL need to rest sometime soon if you keep that level of loading up.

    I know this may seem overly complicated but if we are going to use TSS to track training stress we need to be consistent so that the other metrics like CTL, TSB and ATL reflect reality as well as possible.


    george.peridas on #25379

    Scott, thank you. Very useful. A little more work, but not complicated. Makes sense. I am guessing 1/3-1/2 of the “climb” is a good rule of thumb for how much time is actually spent climbing and not belaying, eating, drinking etc.

    Steve House on #25693

    George: You’re exactly right. I use 1/2 of the recorded time as my ‘training time’. It’s not perfect, but it gets us closer to what we’re trying to do here.

    Pete on #26277


    in terms of “I add the vertical fudge factor of 10TSS/1000ft (300m) elevation gain/loss.” I am wondering if you add 10TSS/1000 ft of elevation gain and then another 10TSS for 1000 ft of elevation loss? Or you count just the elevation gain?



    OwenFW on #26357

    I’m still unclear on Pete’s question. Adding TSS for the uphill is obvious. Do you also add for the downhill? So like 1000 ft up and then down, unweighted, is a total of 20 TSS added? But if you ride the gondola down, you only get 10 total for that 1K of elevation gain. ???

    Rachel on #26359

    In another thread Scott S says its for round trip (hrtss vs rtss default for trail running).

    I’m not sure what you do if you do a one way route with different up and down or if you take the gondola down. I’ve always only given myself points for the up, not the down. I think they will tell you to be consistent.

    I’m still curious about how to tweak TSS for different altitudes. As someone living at 7300 feet and often training at 9k+ feet I’m acutely aware that I have to keep my HR lower for the same RPE than if I was at sea level.

    OwenFW on #26951

    Thanks, rachelp, that forum link clears it up!

    trygve.veslum on #29144

    perhaps you would get more accurate hrTSS if using Auto-Pause on your watch, ie only logging moving time? When using hrTSS I see that I easily get a 30hrTSS/hr even when laying on the couch.

    An alternative way to know Moving Time is to sync to Strava as well since they show that piece of information. THat way you dont loose any info since Auto-Pause will not record any info at all, which will be seen as empty fields in TP analysis tab.


    dan.k on #39954

    Just to be clear on the vertical fudge factor.

    Do you add 10TSS per 1000 feet of gain and loss? That is the way I am reading this but I have seen in the longer article about TSS on this site it just referred to as elevation “gain”.

    i.e. If I ascend 1000 feet and descend 1000 feet during an aerobic run with minimal weight then is it correct that I add 20 TSS (10 for the ascent and 10 for the descent)?

    Again, sorry if I am asking a dumb question but point to point runs aren’t always equal ascent and descent and I have seen it just referred to as adjusting for “gain” in other places on this site which I thought sounded weird given that gain and loss are not always the same but loss has a similar problem of not being accurately reflected in hrTSS.



    Pete on #40010

    Dan, as I understand it, you use only 10 for 1000 feet of ascent and descent. So you do not adjust TSS for ascent and then again for descent.


    dan.k on #40011

    Hi Pete, thanks!

    Yes, I did eventually find that commented somewhere and some other people asking similar. What I decided to do was use 5TSS per 1000 feet in any direction. This gives me 10TSS for 1000 round trip but also still works for point to point runs where the elevation change isn’t consistent. Also means things like riding up in the gondola and running down repeatedly will have some adjustment. 🙂

    OwenFW on #43428

    @trygve.veslum unfortunately, I don’t find that that works well for climbing. On a recent 14hr day, Strava thought I was only moving for 28 minutes. Perhaps if I turned the GPS accuracy for my mountaineering profile on the watch all the way up, it might work a little better, but generally I haven’t been impressed by autopause or Strava’s moving time when a lot of the motion is slow and vertical.

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