Haute Route Training Plan Step 2: Build weekly plan using periodization & Where am I so far?

To train for the Haute Route 2013 challenge, I designed a training plan through a hierarchical 3-step process working backwards from the ultimate goal.  Step 1 defined the aggregate training goal as simulating a training stress score of 250/day (1700-1800 for the 7 days). This blog is about the second step:

Step 2: Build the training plan by week using periodization

Training should increase over time (start easy and build your way up, just like marathon runners do).  I decided to follow the well-tested periodization technique that goes through 4 stages: global training (during winter), base, build, peak.

Each stage is divided into cycles of three weeks that become consistently harder than the previous cycle (and typically contain an “overload” week to stress the system) and that are followed by one week of active recovery.

The HR website (can’t find the original link anymore!) suggested the following:


This plan is aggregate: it only shows “hours per week” and it was puzzling to me at first how to interpret them.  So for quite some time, I didn’t take them very seriously nor had to at the beginning. But with the build up starting, I recently followed my quantification and reasoning in step 1 and figured that the 18 hours in the graph correspond to hard threshold hours.  Now I can convert those hours per week into TSS goals per week:

Step 2 thus concludes by simply multiplying the hours in the graph above by 100 to arrive at a weekly training goal in terms of TSS per week.

Where am I so far?  The value of CTL!

As shown below, my first build up cycle (“Cycle 3) is done and I am now enjoying a well-deserved recovery week.  Before that, I tried my best to fit the workload with my work and travel schedule and was happy to get some climbing in.


How can I assess how close I am to my goal of training the body to deal with a workload of 250 TSS/day?  The answer lies into a second metric: Chronic Training Load (CTL) which represents your long term response to daily (varying) training load.  When subjected to a daily TSS load the body adapts and decays.  Exercise scientists have shown that this response is well captured if CTL is calculated as the exponentially-smoothed moving-averaged training load over 6 weeks (42 days):

Chronic Training Load = [Todays TSS * (1-e^(-1/42)] + {Yesterdays CTL * (e^(-1/42)]

If your TSS were constant over time, your CTL would converge towards that TSS value. If TSS exceeds CTL, then CTL will rise as must happen during build-up; otherwise it falls.

CTL represents your “fitness.” The whole trick of training is to estimate CTL’s convergence speed, using the decay factor e^(-1/42), and design the start and intensity of the training such that CTL reaches the goal in time.  (And, in parallel, working on “form” which is measured by Training Stress Balance–more in later blogs.)

We can now state whether I am on track more precisely:

My goal is CTL = 250 TSS/day by Aug 18, 2013.

Comparing my current CTL of 116 with 250 tells me a still have a long way to go… But can I get there?  I can forecast my CTL evolution using the equation above and also solve for the daily required TSS to reach the goal: the answer is an aggressive training schedule of 260 TSS each day. (Accounting for specific rest days and recovery weeks, one could get a better (and higher) estimate of required TSS but you see the logic.)


Conclusion: my goal of CTL of 250 by mid august is reachable with training 260 TSS each day.

But this will be super tough: The demands of the three coming build cycles are scary because they are pushing me way beyond my regular workload.  For example, my second overload week (starting in 10 days) requires a TSS of 1500. For me, this represents an energy expenditure of roughly 15,000kJ or 2,500kJ for 6 days in a row.  Given that a TSS of 1171 took me 18hrs42 in week 18, I “earn” about 63 TSS points per average training hour (recall, the best you can earn is 100 for an hour at your max) and will have to plan on 24hrs in the saddle to reach 1500 TSS points…   10hrs during the weekend still leaves 14 hours to be filled from 5:30am on weekdays before work. This is becoming a second job!  Luckily the end is in sight: there is only 13 weeks left…

To achieve the coming training goals, I will need to follow a specific daily plan, which is step 3 and the topic of my next blog.

This entry was posted in Cycling, Haute Route and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Haute Route Training Plan Step 2: Build weekly plan using periodization & Where am I so far?

  1. Gerry says:

    Intriguing stuff! I’m interested to know how you did, even now that it’s after the fact!

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