decreasing CTL and rising form



whoawhoa

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Oct 28, 2004
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I'm interested in people's experiences with slowly decreasing CTL (while still training) resulting in increasing fitness, at least in the sub 1-hour effort range.

Unfortunately I've lost a lot of my old data, but this seemed to happen for me last year. In the fall my FTP consistently, though slightly, rose while I was training less volume. My CTL fell nearly 20 points during this time.

I'm sort of hoping for a repeat of this in the fall, what does everyone here think about the effects of training less but still with plenty of intensity?

At some level, it seems to make sense, as it's basically like a longer, more spread out taper (with similar, but less drastic, results).
 

Spunout

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Sep 21, 2005
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This is normal. Keep the intensity up, reduce endurance hours. Your taper can cover a 6-8 week racing period (like a CX season) but after that you'll have to rest & re-build.
 

potenza

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This year i hit a CTL of 120 and i had nothing but bad performances until later in the season when i let it drop down under 100. all CTL says is how much you have been training...i dont think that necessarily correlates to performance.
2 of the best riders i know, inclucing lasts years US national champion, train almost zero but when they do its hard...FTP is what is going to matter.
 

Steve_B

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Dec 31, 2006
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potenza said:
This year i hit a CTL of 120 and i had nothing but bad performances until later in the season when i let it drop down under 100. all CTL says is how much you have been training...i dont think that necessarily correlates to performance.
Well, you may have just overdone it. A CTL of 120 is not for the meek. Perhaps your body needed the recovery from all that build before it could function well again. Of course, we could also view that "recovery" as a taper as well.
 

Steve_B

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whoawhoa said:
Unfortunately I've lost a lot of my old data, but this seemed to happen for me last year. In the fall my FTP consistently, though slightly, rose while I was training less volume. My CTL fell nearly 20 points during this time.

I'm sort of hoping for a repeat of this in the fall, what does everyone here think about the effects of training less but still with plenty of intensity?
Sure, I used to do this nearly every fall back 5-10 years ago when I was much more into racing cyclo-cross. When you get down to it, 'cross is threshold work. Back then, I'd race twice per weekend and do a training event during the week so that amounted to 2-3 hours/week of threshold every week. I'd generally cut down on the easy riding that I might do in the warmer months and my overall riding volume was lower. As a result, CTL was falling as the season went on, however, weekly IF was higher because a much higher % of what I was doing was threshold. My winter training data after all that says that it's a pretty effective routine.

I think how much of an increase you get might depend upon how focused on FTP development your training in the past few months has been and how much of a change it will be to do this "stripped down" regime in the coming months.
 

strader

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Jun 28, 2007
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That's what my plan is for this year's cx season. I'm trying to get CTL up to 100 before the season start on the first week of october. Then switch over to mostly 2x20s, tabata intervals, and skills/fun rides for the rest of the season. I'll probably let CTL fall to 70ish by the end of November. Hopefully I see some results!
 

Steve_B

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strader said:
That's what my plan is for this year's cx season. I'm trying to get CTL up to 100 before the season start on the first week of october. Then switch over to mostly 2x20s, tabata intervals, and skills/fun rides for the rest of the season. I'll probably let CTL fall to 70ish by the end of November. Hopefully I see some results!
John Verheul has written some good stuff about this. He says that because of the neuromuscular demands, it puts a large premium on freshness (positive TSB). However, you can't be fresh for the whole 2-4 month season. So he says that it's best to 1) come into the season with as high a CTL you can manage 2) pick one or two periods where you want to be "good" and 3) plan some good TSB for those periods and 4) not worry too much about freshness the rest of the time.

It's not unlike what you might do on the road or MTB, just that you may find that you need less volume and more freshness at race time to be able to swing it in 'cross. I've done a couple of seasons like that and it's made a big difference.

If you are new to 'cross, I would suggest a strong emphasis on skills. You can lose huge amounts of time with poor skills and Lyne Bessette is a good example of that. When she first started, she was hard to watch* but she has gotten much better over the years and her margin to the top European women has decreased.

2x20's can be important but I would try to make them 'cross specific, if you can. Some work in the 30 sec to 4 minute area (L6/L5) would be a good idea. Perhaps some running as well, though running is less important with the move to faster courses in the past 5-7 years.

* but not hard to look at, if you know what I mean ;)
 

Spunout

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Sep 21, 2005
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I really like L6 intervals, 3 sets of (45s, 1m15s) full out, helps with the speed changes.
 

Steve_B

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Spunout said:
I really like L6 intervals, 3 sets of (45s, 1m15s) full out, helps with the speed changes.
Sure. I am told that Mark McCormack likes to recommend microburst intervals - 15/15s and 30/30s. I plan on doing some myself since I have such a hard time with these sorts of efforts.
 

Sprint2Win

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Oct 31, 2004
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Steve_B said:
Sure. I am told that Mark McCormack likes to recommend microburst intervals - 15/15s and 30/30s. I plan on doing some myself since I have such a hard time with these sorts of efforts.
With how much rest in between?
 

strader

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Jun 28, 2007
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Sprint2Win said:
With how much rest in between?
30/30s would be 30 seconds work with 30 second rest.
I've been doing Tabata intervals which are 20 seconds work at about 170% of vo2max wattage, with 10 seconds of easy spinning for the rest interval, repeast 7 or 8 times (about 4 minute total workout). The idea is you work anaerobic capacity during the work interval, and the rest interval is short enough where the average power is high enough to elicit VO2max.
 

strader

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Last season for cross I tried doing micro tapers every week, where I would try to keep TSB slightly negative for monday, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday, and then back of to let TSB go slightly positive on friday, saturday, and race on sunday. Plan for this season looks something like this:

Monday: Tabata session + 2 hour L2/L3 ride, ~150 TSS
Tuesday: 2x20 hillclimb, ~100 TSS
Wednesday: 3 hour mtb/cross ride with some hard hillclimbs ~100TSS
Thursday: Tabata + 1 hour skills ride ~80 TSS
Friday: Tabata + easy spinning ~30 TSS
Saturday: Skills Ride, ~70 TSS
Sunday: Race then 1-2 hour ride after, ~150 TSS

I did a full taper for the last two weeks of the season. The micro tapers seem to work well for me last year, except when I tried to take friday and saturday off which was a disaster. My target races are part of a 8 week series, with no one race more important than the other except for the last one which is double point.
Well I think I've derailed whoawhoa's thread enough now with my fishing for 'cross training advise.