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  1. #1
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    Your Training Stress Score (TSS) for big rides?

    I haven't been able to train like I want lately, not enough time, but one consistency has been a long Saturday ride on my road bike. I typically do a metric century (usually a little longer--70 miles this past weekend) with a strong group and sometimes we push it so that it cannot be characterized merely as an "endurance ride."

    I'm curious, for those of you who use power, what is a "big day" in a saddle, using your TSS, for your training days?

    This past Saturday my score was a little over 172. It came the day after I got in a hard solo ride for about 1:35 with a TSS of 81. But that is about all the riding I got in for the week. (I did get in 30 minutes on rollers one night earlier in the week).

    What do you guys (and gals) consider a big ride in your training?

    (I'd rather not get in all my training in 2-3 rides, but that is about all I have time for these days).

  2. #2
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    Your numbers seem off. A 1H35 hard ride with 81 TSS indicates a too high estimated FTP.

    A metric century at 172 TSS is low too. For a similar ride I usually get close to 300 TSS but I always ride solo so there could be some lower drag in your case. Still I would expect over 200 TSS since I suppose this will take you 3H+ (which equals to a IF of 0.6666 which is endurance level.)

    To answer your question, I find TSS doesn't always relate so well to a "hard" ride. I can do 1H of sprints and come up with 90 TSS and it can feel harder than 4H of endurance with 300 TSS. But if we speak long rides, I like to go 400+ although I rarely find the time for those.
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    TSS of 100 for an hour is upper limit by definition, right? And you wouldn't be able to hold 100 for another hour, you'd have to back off.

    A recent 4.5 hour road ride came in at TSS=238 for me. Pretty much a "zone 2" ride - but I was completely cooked afterwards.

  4. #4
    LMN
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    My number are usually similar to yours.

    Generally if a ride has a TSS over 200 I am hurting the next day.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  5. #5
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    I believe my TSS numbers are similar as well.

    Seems in order to get a large TSS I need a lot of time on the bike. I did a solo century in late June on pretty hilly terrain. TSS=320. Took me 6 hours and I was targeting mostly upper Zone 2. Hills forced me into Tempo and above just to keep a reasonable RPM. But I stuggled to stay above the lower limit of Zone 2 by the end.

    Had 2 days of pretty good leg soreness afterwards. Looking at my calendar I've done about 4 rides like that this season. So to get a TSS of 300+, I need to be riding a century at the least.

    Also, it seems I'm better at racing events with large NP (or IF) and small TSS. Large TSS events I suck at.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 08-17-2011 at 09:59 AM.
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  6. #6
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    One way to look at it is by calculating your TSS per hour. The table below is a seven day extract from the end of July 2011 showing the TSS and IF for each ride so you can see what it looks like. My mountain bike is my only bike so all the road miles were done on that. Apart from the Sunday road club run I was riding by myself.

    If I'm out for a fairly long ride on the road then I'd expect to end up somewhere around 57-61 TSS/hr overall with an IF of 0.76 - 0.79. That's a sustainable pace for 5-6 hour rides. 314.5 TSS for a 5h 29min ride with 5,100 feet of climbing.

    If I'm doing offroad rides then the TSS ends up being a lot lower. Offroad it's generally around 47-50 TSS/hr for longer rides.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Your Training Stress Score (TSS) for big rides?-weekly_tss_19-25_july_2011.jpg  


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil View Post
    Your numbers seem off. A 1H35 hard ride with 81 TSS indicates a too high estimated FTP.

    A metric century at 172 TSS is low too. For a similar ride I usually get close to 300 TSS but I always ride solo so there could be some lower drag in your case. Still I would expect over 200 TSS since I suppose this will take you 3H+ (which equals to a IF of 0.6666 which is endurance level.)

    To answer your question, I find TSS doesn't always relate so well to a "hard" ride. I can do 1H of sprints and come up with 90 TSS and it can feel harder than 4H of endurance with 300 TSS. But if we speak long rides, I like to go 400+ although I rarely find the time for those.
    I should clarify. My 1:35 "hard" ride did not include 1:35 of riding hard. I got warmed up, was feeling good, then cranked up the intensity until about the 1 hour mark. So there was about 45 minutes of hard riding. And then I let off the gas the rest of the way home except for a few hills where I stood and hammered.

    The 70 mile ride was my estimate. It was was actually 72.4 miles total in 3:23. The first 2 was an easy ride to the shop. The next 15-20 was a more leisurely pace, say 21-22 mph, with a big group, 20+ riders, with most of the riders going shorter. When they turned for home we then had 4 guys going pretty hard for the remainder of the ride. I then rode home easy another 2 miles.

  8. #8
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    The comments have helped. It appears to me most people's "big" rides are a little longer or significantly longer than mine. I've not pushed my rides out beyond about 3:20-3:30. And my long rides are group rides on the road so the TSS is lower than if I was out there alone.

  9. #9
    LMN
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    300 and 400 are huge TSS numbers. 400 TSS is the equivalent of four 1hr time trials. That is one crazy hard ride.

    Interestingly I see a lot of power files from a lot people. Generally the faster they are the lower the TSS per hour. My wife averages maybe 40 TSS per hour for her endurance work.

    A TSS score exceeding 220 is pretty rare in power files of the racers I work with.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  10. #10
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    I guess it may help to understand how TSS is calculated from IF. I only have a powermeter on my road bike so for mtb rides I manually estimate my TSS. It's better to have an estimate than nothing at all so that your ATL/CTL are more accurate.

    To manually calculate I estimate my IF. Let's estimate a ride similar to your big one. 70 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes at an IF of 0.7. Square the 0.7 to get 0.49. You therefore have a TSS of 49 per hour. 49 times 3.33 is a TSS of 163.

    So your long ride was a few minutes longer and probably at a slightly higher IF, about 0.72. Is that accurate? That's about right for a decent 3 hour training ride.

    It's nice to get big rides in but you have to monitor your CTL. For me personally a solid week would raise my CTL 6-7 points, a hard week 10-11 points. Anymore and I'm a sure thing to get sick.

    I have time to ride 10-12 hours a week. I like my CTL to hover around 80 and then build it to 100-110 in the 4-6 weeks before an important block of racing which I can probably maintain for a month before needing to have a break and let it drop back to around 80. I don't have time for anymore than that unless I cut out sleep...which is also crucial to not getting sick.

    As for my big rides, the average week would always have something around 180-230. The big week I may crack 300. I'd only do that when I'm building for a week long road tour though where the legs need to be used to the fatigue for repeated long days. If you're looking at one day races or mtb races (olympic) you really don't need to go anywhere near 300. You'll do well to reach a TSS of 130 for a hard olympic distance mtb race of 2 hours.

    You say you can only do 3 rides a week. Say a hard 1 hour at IF0.9, a solid 2 hour at IF0.8, a tempo 3 hour at IF0.7. That'll be a TSS for the week of 356, TSS/day of about 51. I've been in exactly that situation. Fill those sessions with intervals, if you can't do quantity you have to do quality. You'll be able to get through a 2 hour mtb race well on that, just don't expect to be able to back it up the next day.

  11. #11
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    Let me post my real numbers now that I have access to them.

    A long ride I did this summer was 4H30, 120kms with 1800m of climbing. Results in 268 TSS or .78 IF (206 watts normalized). I coudl have gone for another couple of hours at that pace, I felt fine the next day and could have trained no problem but rested (or had stuff to do, I don't remember) The day after, I rode 45 mintes straight at FTP alternating cadence between 100 & 70 every 5 minutes.

    I'll also add my FTP is set at 265 yet I can ride at 240 watts NP for 2 hours without too much problem. So I can push fairly high wattage over extended periods yet I'm totally unable to push short power bursts or do fast sprints. This is why I perform much better in endurance races than XC.

    It seems I over estiamted my TSS numbers slightly. However, this past winter, on the 1UpUSA trainer I was burning through friction pads fairly easily. The guy at 1Up said he had never seen someone push such numbers for so long and burn the friction pads at my rhythm. Oh well, I had to change trainers for a Kurt...

    As I said, all rides with a power meter are solo & on the road or trainer. I don't think my numbers are out of this world to be honest, I just have good endurance and fast recovery from efforts.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie_yeti View Post

    So your long ride was a few minutes longer and probably at a slightly higher IF, about 0.72. Is that accurate? That's about right for a decent 3 hour training ride.
    Accurate is an understatement: dead solid perfect on your computations.

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    Aussie yeti thanks for the advice. I don't have the time to ride that many days, but can usually get in quality rides when I do ride. It is pretty clear to me I need to stick with my Saturday ride, which is fine since I only race the mountain bike, and then just crank up the intensity a little more at this point on my other rides. If I get the chance to ride more, I'll make those easy days and try to relax and have fun.

    LMN I am in agreement with you on the TSS rides of 300+ and even 400. Judging from the 172 TSS for my "regular" long ride, I'm guessing a TSS ride of 300 or more would really wipe me out for a few days. I'm a working stiff in a stressful job and have to be careful not to overdo it. When I'm riding I can tell a decrease in performance when work stress has been very high. There is a balance for me in riding: I can ride hard up to a certain point and it relieves stress, but if I push too hard then work stress with physical stress leads to way too much fatigue and I'm worthless on the bike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gatorback View Post
    LMN I am in agreement with you on the TSS rides of 300+ and even 400. Judging from the 172 TSS for my "regular" long ride, I'm guessing a TSS ride of 300 or more would really wipe me out for a few days. I'm a working stiff in a stressful job and have to be careful not to overdo it. When I'm riding I can tell a decrease in performance when work stress has been very high. There is a balance for me in riding: I can ride hard up to a certain point and it relieves stress, but if I push too hard then work stress with physical stress leads to way too much fatigue and I'm worthless on the bike.
    What you've said there is the real world version of what I was talking about with chronic training load (CTL). You have to figure out what CTL you can maintain around the 'training load' of general life (work, social, etc). For me that's 10-12 hours, CTL 80-110. Really if you're only riding 2-3 times a week a CTL of 50 will probably be about the limit. So if you were to do a ride with TSS of 400 you've done a fair bit more than your normal weekly training in one ride. Therefore it should wipe you out for the next week. That is not an effective way to train and you won't get any benefit from it...except a couple of sick days off work no doubt.

    I'm not a coach, what I'm saying is just what I've observed with my own body and my understanding from reading I've done. I don't think you'll get much benefit from doing rides with a TSS >200 coming from the base you've got and the days/hours a week you have to ride.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Interestingly I see a lot of power files from a lot people. Generally the faster they are the lower the TSS per hour. My wife averages maybe 40 TSS per hour for her endurance work.
    I guess my TSS per hour should be even higher than it is now then. TSS is about the only thing that looks good about my power figures. If you were looking at w/kg or FTP then it's not a pretty sight.

    When your riders' do 1 hour time trials what do their TSS and IF figures look like?

    Along with regular 20 minute FTP tests I've been making a point of going out and riding 1 hour time trials this year as a way of trying to see whether my TSS figures are way out or not. The results from the one I did a few weeks earlier came out as this: 1hr time trial - TSS 88.9 IF 0.943. That's in line with what you'd expect. A 1hr time trial performed absolutely flat out should theoretically produce a TSS of 100 and IF of 1.00. So far as I can tell the TSS and IF for my longer rides appears to be in the right sort of area as well.

    Normalized Power (NP), Intensity Factor (IF), and Training Stress Score (TSS)

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  16. #16
    LMN
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    A full one hour TT is done maybe once a year. The last one an athlete did had a TSS of 105 (obviously we had under estimated his threshold).
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    A full one hour TT is done maybe once a year. The last one an athlete did had a TSS of 105 (obviously we had under estimated his threshold).
    underestimated, or had he made gains since the last estimate/evaluation?
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  18. #18
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    Another point.

    Whats the purpose of large TSS rides, if you're not doing large TSS events?

    The only reason i was doing those large rides was to get ready for a couple of events anticipating a finishing time ~6-7 hours.

    I've heard through the grapevine that one of our top female pros has never done a ride over 3 hours. I mean, would huge TSS rides help for an XCO format race (1-1.5 hours)?? It's probably taking the training to the wrong focus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Another point.

    Whats the purpose of large TSS rides, if you're not doing large TSS events?

    The only reason i was doing those large rides was to get ready for a couple of events anticipating a finishing time ~6-7 hours.

    I've heard through the grapevine that one of our top female pros has never done a ride over 3 hours. I mean, would huge TSS rides help for an XCO format race (1-1.5 hours)?? It's probably taking the training to the wrong focus.
    i think it depends on the situation...

    if you can arrange to do 3hr rides every day, then it is likely that you won't have to do the 4+hr ride less frequently to pull your fitness up. i visualize a graph where the sub 3hr ride bumps the fitness up from underneath, and the 4+ hr ride pulls it up from above (albeit less frequently).

    admittedly i am relatively new to this stuff and if LMN disagrees he is likely correct (and i am wrong)

    late edit:

    i know an older masters athlete that is one of the best in the nation for tri. his training plan during the week consists of fairly short workouts. his weekends he goes big (4+ hrs). he has developed his training plan over many years (he has done something like 15 ironmans). this setup works for him. i consider it "end loaded" training. i also have hypothesized that he might see gains if he could smooth out the workload and have less up/down in his training load but who can argue with awesome success?
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  20. #20
    LMN
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    When looking at TSS scores you have to also keep in mind what your events are like. If you are Olympic style XC then at most your races have a TSS of 200. There really isn't a need to do rides with TSS of 400 because you don't race like that.

    However, many people are into endurance racing, I supspect a 100 miler is 500 TSS or more. Now doing 500 TSS on single ride in training session isn't the best idea, but if you race is 500 TSS then you better have done some rides that are 300+.

    As for training I have always said the key to sucess is consistency. If you do a really hard ride that is way above your CTL then you are going to have to back off and recover at some point. If your CTL is a 100 (which is quite high) then a ride with TSS of 400 is going to require three days comletely off to get you back to average (not that you would do it that way). That is a lot of easy rides to go with that one training day.
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  21. #21
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    "If you're looking at one day races or mtb races (olympic) you really don't need to go anywhere near 300. You'll do well to reach a TSS of 130 for a hard olympic distance mtb race of 2 hours." - Aussie Yeti

    "If you are Olympic style XC then at most your races have a TSS of 200. There really isn't a need to do rides with TSS of 400 because you don't race like that." - LMN

    Thanks. That was I was thinking as well.


    whybotherme, the Ironman has a TT of 112 miles, no?? So that Master's guy would be well served by larger TSS rides.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussie_yeti View Post
    I only have a powermeter on my road bike so for mtb rides I manually estimate my TSS. It's better to have an estimate than nothing at all so that your ATL/CTL are more accurate.

    To manually calculate I estimate my IF. Let's estimate a ride similar to your big one. 70 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes at an IF of 0.7. Square the 0.7 to get 0.49. You therefore have a TSS of 49 per hour. 49 times 3.33 is a TSS of 163.
    I'm in the same boat and have been for a few years. In previous seasons I tried to estimate my IF and TSS but I was never happy with the numbers - so I stopped. Without those MTB ride numbers my PMC and all it's info is jacked. I pretty much have stopped paying attention to the PMC because of this.

    Is there an accepted as "accurate" algorithm for estimating IF and TSS from HR data or a combination of HR and perceived exertion? Or another method? I would like to the PMC back on track.

    Thanks

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    whybotherme, the Ironman has a TT of 112 miles, no?? So that Master's guy would be well served by larger TSS rides.
    that sounds logical.

    looks like LMN confirmed that i was wrong! he definitely knows what he is talking about!!!

    i do wonder about year on year gains and how longer rides play a factor in adaptation.

    also it seems that if TSS is the primary training metric, updating your FTP would be a high priority.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Another point.

    Whats the purpose of large TSS rides, if you're not doing large TSS events?
    It's about stimulating physiological adaptations, more so than practicing for race duration. As an example, individual pursuiters who's race duration is about 5 minutes don't train significantly different than stage racers. Andrew Coggan has a powerpoint posted on the web from a few years ago showing the training his wife did to win the national championship pursuit. CTL went over 140+ in the months before the race. From the running world, Arthur Lydiard had his middle distance runners train the same way as his marathon runners right up until the build/sharpening period. Still common practice until this day.
    I've known a lot of people that choose to race short events like cyclocross and short track because it's "easier to train for" and they can just do 1-2 hour training rides. I've never seen one of them become fast. Even in their target events they race at least a category below the fast guys I know that train for longer races and do a few stxc/cyclocross races on the side.
    Last edited by strader; 08-18-2011 at 11:09 AM.

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    after a discussion with the wife on the lunch ride (she actually looks at these numbers, i don't) it sounds like a three hour ride is often low on TSS (150 TSS).

    i guess i had failed to account for the reduced intensity...
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