And so it begins…

Tomorrow is the start of my 14 week training plan for the Sundown Marathon in Singapore in March. This includes such joys as two hours of running scheduled for Christmas, which isn’t going to go down any better than a kilo of stale turkey and some rancid brandy butter. But tonight was my last off-schedule run, an attempt to get in some reasonable shape before the fun starts, and another check that I can use my power meter properly to guide my workouts.

The hilariously unattractive graph is from Training Peaks, which all my training data ends up in (after it’s gone via Bluetooth from my watch to my iPhone, across the internet to Garmin and then via an API push to Training Peaks, Strava and Smashrun).  It’s not as complicated as it makes itself look; every red dot signifies the impact of the workout on that day (the Training Stress Score, or TSS).  The blue blobs are the intensity of the workout (high impact is either because you had high intensity, or high duration, or both). Then you have lines for the CTL and ATL (the Chronic Training Load in drab green and Acute Training Load in pink) which handily aren’t labelled here.  One of those is the long term average of the TSS, and the other is the short term average.  The idea behind that is that as you start to ramp up your training, the ATL should exceed the CTL, and as you taper down for your race, the CTL should be higher than the ATL, and the difference between the two indicates whether you’re feeling fresh as a daisy or utterly knackered.  In theory, anyway.

Despite having graphics that would shame a user of Excel in 2006, Training Peaks is actually really user friendly; if you can cope with entering in all the runs in your schedule, you can easily see where they are and how it models your predicted ATL, CTL, etc.  That makes it easy to see if there’s weeks where you’re expecting to increase your training load far too much, as well as being able to easily rearrange your workouts as real life gets in the way.  (You could do that with an Excel spreadsheet but it would get ugly, both aesthetically and operationally, very quickly.)  I spent an hour the other weekend when I should have been napping, entering the first four and a half weeks of the schedule (I’m copying and pasting from a book full of training plans).  Now, for better or worse, Training Peaks will email me every day to tell me what’s coming up next.

Here’s the summary of this week (including a two day gap where I was sitting around on planes or in conference rooms, doing nothing):


The light grey is what I told Training Peaks I’d planned.  The bold is what I actually did.  Total TSS was 222.8 (excluding the Pilates session yesterday, where it can’t figure out how hard that was).  Next week is predicted to be 540.1, so that will be fun times.

To try to keep myself honest, and paying attention to this data, but also not writing about nothing but marathon training, I’m going to try to stick to one post every Sunday, based on my Training Peaks data, and spare you the rest of the week being filled up with me gassing on about training sessions.  If you really wanted that, you could look at what I was doing on Strava, or Smashrun, or Training Peaks, if I could figure out how to make that public.

Although if I find more books about running shoe empires, who knows?

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