• Suzie

Training Peaks. Part 2 - PMC not PMS!

Here are my notes from the free Training Peaks Talk by Joe Friel and Dave Schell at Manchester National Cycle Centre.

This blog follows on from Part 1 where I shared the idea that you can plan and measure your training in a more advanced/smarter way than just recording duration of training.

The key concept of part 2 is The Performance Management Chart (PMC). A graph that combines all your data, that you have inputted into your Training Peaks online training diary and it creates a line graph to show your Fitness (Critical training load), Fatigue ( Acute training load) and Form (Total stress balance).

The Performance Management Chart also has red dots and blue dots, each red dot represents Total stress score for each day. If you did a swim and a run one day, it will add up the TSS values and plot the dot on the graph. The blue dots represent the intensity of the days training.

The key message I took from Joe Friel on the Performance Management Chart was; by tracking your training and analysing it, you can learn how rested you need to be to race well, how much training is too much in terms of fatigue, what training sequences produce the best outcomes for your fitness.

This is a very simplified version of what you can read and interpret from the Performance Management Chart. The talk was only 90 minutes and these notes are aimed to be a starting point.

Below is my Performance Management Chart from February 2016 to today (June 2017). I have labelled the Fitness Line (blue), Fatigue (Pink), Form line (orange). The blue and red dots are generally at the base of the chart. I have marked on my 8 triathlon races during this time period.

Form is an indicator of freshness, how race ready you are.

The above chart shows the orange Form line going up and down. When it is low, it shows I was not in shape, I was fatigued from a big training load. When the form line rises, it means, i was becoming fresher and more race ready.

I marked on the races with a red circle, often the form line has risen to meet the fitness line and fatigue line, showing I have tapered and I am fresher and ready to race. The exception being the last race, Tri122 in Lazarote in March this year (race report here), which was a training race (and doesn't the fatigue and form line show it!)

I have zoomed in on last year's race season to have a closer look at what is happening on the chart the day before some of the races.

When you view the performance management chart online in your Training Peaks account, you can hoover the cursor over set days and it brings up certain information. Such as the above. I have screen shot 4 different days onto the chart to compare. The 4 info boxes show the day before the Slateman Triathlon, Leeds WTS triathlon, Castle Howard Olympic distance and Weymouth 70.3 last year. (click on the race to read my race reports)

What are the benefits of this?

- In the lead up to a race, as you are uploading and monitoring your training you can see how your fitness, fatigue and form changes each day. Therefore allowing you to adapt your training so your fatigue and form score are at the optimum for you to race. The key word in the previous sentence being 'you'. This is the highly individual bit, everyone has their own optimum score. Someone may feel fine with a fatigue score of 150, while someone else may barely be able to get out of bed. The same for form

Joe Friel advises:

Form (TSB): Generally between +15 and +25 for A races

BUT every athlete is different and some will race great on barely a positive form score.

Training Peaks has really informative articles and videos explaining the performance Management chart and planning/peaking for races. Such as this one

- When reviewing races or the season, you can look back and review the data, comparing it with how you felt. Are there any trends?

For myself and my Performance Management Chart above, I can see the two races I felt brilliant in, were Slateman and Leeds WTS early in the season, this corresponds to my Fitness score (CLT) being the highest it was for any of the races last season, but my form score is relatively low. Maybe a lower form score is ok for shorter races compared to longer races?

Below I have zoomed in on my Performance Management Chart for the most recent few months.

The falling fitness (blue) line early on shows the end of season rest after Challenge Paguera 70.3

I started training in November 2016 and since the line has been on a steady upward trajectory.

If you look closely it resembles a set of steps, going up and then across or down and repeat. Of course you do not need Training Peaks to plan training this way. What Training Peaks allows you to do is to see the effects of the training in terms of form and fatigue.

This shows the 3 weeks of progressive training followed by a week of lighter training, you can see how the lighter week of training allows fatigue to fall and form to rise.

Joe advised that you never want form to fall too low (-30 is your limit) and it shows too much fatigue and a risk of illness/ burn out.

The Performance Management Chart allows you to monitor the effects of your training, helping you to avoid big extremes in fatigue and form. I will stop there.

That is a basic whistle stop tour of the Performance Management Chart.

I wasn't really using Training Peaks last season. I had a free account as it was the only way I knew to download my computrainer data (power data from my computrainer turbo) . As I became more interested in Training peaks, I started putting all my training in it. As I had a free account I didn't have access to the Performance Management Chart. So I was really just using it as an online diary and viewing the TSS scores for different work outs.

Since working with Chris this season, we have been using the paid for advanced version of Training Peaks, allowing access to the performance management chart.

I think an important point to make is. I got some great results with Louise, not using Training Peaks. And many athletes have in the past and still do. Success is not reliant on Training Peaks!

Another important point to note, is that I the performance management chart and the associated data provide just one piece of the jigsaw. Dave and Joe were both keen to point this out, they highlighted the importance of the comment boxes on each day in the training diary for athletes to write post training comments in. If a comment box reads "This was a super hard session today, my legs felt horrific" and then you look at the TSS score, fatigue and form and it all adds up.

It was interesting to read in Lizzie Deignan's (Armistead) book, Lizzie talking about using Training Peaks as a self coached athlete and writing in the comments section. Her husband Phil, asked her, who she is writing the comments for? "Just for myself".

I have one final blog (Part 3- the final frontier) to come. I will share what I learnt on building workouts and planning training using the work out builder.

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