Maurice,

Maurice said:

are you saying you can get those numbers without a HRM or PM?

The number is based in power training, so an exact number would be impossible without a PM. Having said that, nobody uses a PM on all their bikes. It's just too expensive. So they resort to estimating. That might sound like mere guessing, but it's not really that random.

I would recommend using Coggan exercise levels, 1-7, which equate to this:

1: recovery

2: endurance, aka all day pace

3: tempo (<2 hours)

4: LT (10-30/60 min intervals)

5: Vo2max (3-8 min intervals)

6: Anaerobic capacity (30s-3m intervals)

7: Neuromuscular (~10 sec)

The key here is knowing where you're exercising. If you're doing an interval, and you can hold it for 20 min, it's L4. That's the classic LT push interval which is the whole "power at threshold" thing. In theory you can exercise at your LT for 60 minutes straight. After that, in theory, you're kaput.

That's basically how you hit the levels you want to. HRMs are useless for anything above L4, and even then it's useless for L4 if you're doing block training. HR-based training is low-end, more or less. It's been proven over and over again that it's terribly inaccurate. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) has been shown to be much more accurate.

Having said that, I have used and will occasionally use my HRM for L3 and L4 work on the trainer and some L4 work outdoors. For L5/L6, I just go as hard as I need to to hit the target time.

Once you know where you're working, you have a TSS estimate to work with based on this equation: TSS = IF * IF * 100, where IF = intensity factor. The estimates work out to this:

L2: IF~.8, 64 TSS/hr

L3: IF~.9, 81 TSS/hr

L4: IF~.95 (incl. rest periods for interval workout), 90 TSS/hr

L5: IF~1.0 (incl. rest periods for interval workout), 100 TSS/hr

Ignore L1 since that's not training stress. L6 would be higher than L5, but those accumulated times are usually pretty small so L5 is a good estimate. And L7 is 10 second intervals with 60 seconds of light work. Hardly worth it's own category.

From here you can estimate any given workout, say if you do 30 minutes of L5 then go for a 90 minute L2 ride after that. For standard off-road rides, I use 72 TSS/hour. I made it up. MTB riding sure isn't L2 but with the coasting it's generally not L3. XC races and race simulations are a different animal, probably more like 90-100. The aim is to get close and be consistent. As long as you're consistent, it should work out.

Another thing, this only measures overall fitness. You could drive the TSS score way up by going for long slow rides every day. But come race day, you'll only be able to go slow but for a LONG time. The other part of the equation is how you compose your workouts to balance different energy systems as well as the necessary event specific endurance.

Maurice said:

What kind of data do you enter in the spreadsheet? I haven't logged anything of course, but in the future... And our friend Sean may be interested also.

Just the TSS score. The CTL, ATL, and TSB (I incorrectly called it TBS before) is calculated for you. I'll try and attach the spreadsheet tomorrow.

Maurice said:

Last time I took a VO2max test was in the early 90's... I do remember it to be 85 ml/kg/min though, as well as barely keeping my breakfast in.

Doesn't sound fun. But none of that is necessary since VO2max intervals are just 3-5 minutes long. Just go hard enough so after 3-5 minutes you've had enough.

Above everything else, remember this translation is coming from a guy nicknamed after the biggest, fattest alcoholic in the history of sit-com television. While I'm no longer physically worthy of the nickname, I did finish nearly 2 hours behind you this past weekend. Having said that, I haven't used any of this to really work out a season yet.

Does any of this make sense?

Norm