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Lies, damned lies, then CTL....or is it a lie?

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Lies, damned lies, then CTL....or is it a lie?

Old 08-12-21, 10:59 AM
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burnthesheep
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Lies, damned lies, then CTL....or is it a lie?

By definition CTL is the 42 day moving average of TSS. ATL is the 7 day moving average of TSS. Nothing more than a little mathematical algorithm for visualizing training stress over time.

The topic title "lies, damned lies, then CTL" comes from "lies, damned lies, then statistics". Or is it so wrong? Is CTL fitness or is it now? Hmmm.

I feel like I am constantly torn between a couple of ideas that compete against each other in my own head as it relates to CTL:

1. CTL is, or is not "fitness"
2. To get faster, CTL must sometimes take a back seat to discipline specific work.
3. How you spend your CTL "budget".....80/20, 90/10, 3 hard workouts a week, etc.........
4. When do you start your specialization work?

I started trying to ride a bike in groups and with an aim to be faster or competitive probably around 2017. I started off primarily "just riding" then moved into just constantly repeating training plans that had you do 3 interval workouts per week that were pretty intense. And I made some newbie gains. I could do a good 20min test value and keep up with A groups, have fun in a cross race, etc....

In the time sense then, the TT hobby became a favorite and drove me to basically chase CTL while chewing off a lot of sweetspot all the time. I didn't feel like that work should tailor well to road bike group fitness. With the surges.

IMHO, I think the whole "CTL is a fitness lie" can be a bit of a boogeyman after this past year. If you don't have enough base or ftp, you won't be in the break or contesting the town line sprint finish. Period. That's the "cake". The icing is the VO2 and anerobic or sprint efforts to close the deal. Without getting there first, the other is useless.

I went from last year "barely hanging on" in the main weeknight worlds bunch, to being a primary contender to finish on the front.

I might toss in some random VO2 efforts each week on Zwift or for a local KOM. Maybe decide one week to do a structured TT bike 4x5min VO2 workout. Certainly zero sprint and zero "1min" style power focused work. Let's be clear, there is no road race or crit style training focus AT ALL.

What gives? Is there actually something to the whole "more is more" ethos of ftp and the "sweetspot" trend?

So, contribute with:
-do you think: CTL is a lie for fitness, CTL drives fitness, or "it depends".....I think it depends
-there is something to "sweetspot" style methods of training?
-is "more is more" true to an extent? why or why not?

I ask this headed into cross season as teammates, competitors, and the whole cross world starts dialing up 30/30 anaerobic workouts. Despite the fact that the data from a cross race for an amateur would reveal a pitiful amount of anaerobic power usage in a race. So............perhaps "more is more" again, but with hotlaps and barrier drills?
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Old 08-12-21, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
By definition CTL is the 42 day moving average of TSS. ATL is the 7 day moving average of TSS.
I stopped here. If you get this wrong, I don't see the point in reading the rest.
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Old 08-12-21, 11:19 AM
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Chronic Training Load (CTL) is a critical component of fitness.

https://www.alancouzens.com/blog/vol...-intensity.php
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Old 08-12-21, 11:23 AM
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I think CTL is a good measure of base fitness. Once you have your base, then you can concentrate on improving your performance in whatever discipline you like (sprints, surges, TT, climbing, etc.) by doing specific workouts tailored to what you want to improve.
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Old 08-12-21, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I stopped here. If you get this wrong, I don't see the point in reading the rest.
It's paraphrased from TP. If you'd like to adjust the shorthand of saying it's an average of those periods of time, feel free.

"Itís an ongoing average of your daily training (TSS load) specifically looking at the last six weeks or 42 days of data points."

So, how is that wrong exactly?
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Old 08-12-21, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Chronic Training Load (CTL) is a critical component of fitness.

https://www.alancouzens.com/blog/vol...-intensity.php
I tend to agree that it does matter. I just wonder about sometimes what work contributes to the CTL as it relates to the correlations in the chart.

There's a lot of folks that might sway the correlation weaker due to tons and tons of low intensity cafe rides without as much hard work that wind up with lower ftp's.

Or the opposite, folks on lower CTL's whose loads constantly have a higher IF.
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Old 08-12-21, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
"Itís an ongoing average of your daily training (TSS load) specifically looking at the last six weeks or 42 days of data points."
Yes, there's a lot of incorrect information on the internet. If you want to avoid misinformation, primary sources are a good place to start.
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Old 08-12-21, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by hayden52 View Post
I think CTL is a good measure of base fitness. Once you have your base, then you can concentrate on improving your performance in whatever discipline you like (sprints, surges, TT, climbing, etc.) by doing specific workouts tailored to what you want to improve.
This is kind of my current view. I just wonder for how long the specificity should start interfering with overall CTL. Sacrificing some CTL for specificity. Is it a month out, two months? All summer long as you do the unending crit series?

For cross season I'm thinking I'll do what I've been doing but get off the road bike and tarmac and onto the cross course for skills sooner. Then probably 3 weeks out get into sacrificing a little CTL for some routine specific workouts.

I just thing months and months of specificity is too much for a low volume rider like me.
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Old 08-12-21, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Yes, there's a lot of incorrect information on the internet. If you want to avoid misinformation, primary sources are a good place to start.
You're hung up on 'moving' versus '42 day exponentially weighted averages'? Fine.

Geez man. We're lay folks trying to have a discussion, this isn't the wattage Google group.

At least when Robert shows up in topics his correction is more along the lines of "you mean 'exponentially weighted?'", without the snark.
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Old 08-12-21, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I did TABR (cross country bike race) and my CTL was off the charts at the end. I did not lose weight although I might have put some muscle on. When I returned, I destroyed as in obliterated all of my climbing PBs locally and I was very fit going into the ride. N = 1 of course.

What is often not recognized is increasing CTL usually occurs with increasing FTP, so, you have to work harder to keep the same CTL.

I do not personally think focus on CTL as a training metric makes sense. I see ATL and CTL as a way to keep from going overboard and developing fatigue.

Did you read the blog post that I linked?
Yeah, thatís where my inquiry came from.

CTL keeps us honest, but it just seems a forefront of the TP dashboards. You can customize it a bit, but without a different platform I just feel like the whole thing bombards me with ďctl, atl trend, weekly TSSĒ.

Like I wish I could track CTL and ATL by separate zones or combination of zones. That probably makes no sense to most, but in my feeble brain it does when I say it.

Like you could ramp up your z4 threshold ctl. Or ramp your z6 ctl to race crits.

After life settles in seasonally realistically my ctl and atl donít tell me much. More of the same. But dipping into event specific work may change.

It really only helped with tapering for an A+ race kind of deal.

As far as ctl staying same and ftp rising, I track Kjís per week as a TP chart. That way I can see some kind of progression.
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Old 08-12-21, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Yeah, thatís where my inquiry came from.

CTL keeps us honest, but it just seems a forefront of the TP dashboards. You can customize it a bit, but without a different platform I just feel like the whole thing bombards me with ďctl, atl trend, weekly TSSĒ.

Like I wish I could track CTL and ATL by separate zones or combination of zones. That probably makes no sense to most, but in my feeble brain it does when I say it.

Like you could ramp up your z4 threshold ctl. Or ramp your z6 ctl to race crits.

After life settles in seasonally realistically my ctl and atl donít tell me much. More of the same. But dipping into event specific work may change.

It really only helped with tapering for an A+ race kind of deal.

As far as ctl staying same and ftp rising, I track Kjís per week as a TP chart. That way I can see some kind of progression.
No, it makes a lot of sense. I left one of the pay for play platforms for that reason and others. I'd have a 12 hour ride with say 2 hours at threshold, 3 hours of tempo, 3 hours Z2 and 4 hours Z1. The software would rate the ride as "easy" because the average IP was low. But if I did 2 hours of near threshold, it would score it very high. These all get melanged into metrics that I found not helpful. The guy who ran the company insisted that the 2 hour ride would be much harder than the 12 hour ride and more beneficial. So, I agree with you. I also used TP and I found in TP that I hard to dial in the exponents to reflect my recovery and once I had that, TSS, TSB, ATL, CTL were useful. In the end, I decided a 10 day microcycle worked better for me

KJ is good one. If I were doing Crits anymore, I looked at how quickly I recovered from repeated hard efforts and ability to hold above threshold. Like can I do my 5 minute hill at personal best times and what are the repeats looking like with the stopwatch. Old school. Then, if the training races were getting better, all was well.

How much of a bump in performance do you see when Peaking? I think that is also an area of lies, damned lies, and Statistics.
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Old 08-13-21, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Yeah, thatís where my inquiry came from.

CTL keeps us honest, but it just seems a forefront of the TP dashboards. You can customize it a bit, but without a different platform I just feel like the whole thing bombards me with ďctl, atl trend, weekly TSSĒ.

Like I wish I could track CTL and ATL by separate zones or combination of zones. That probably makes no sense to most, but in my feeble brain it does when I say it.

Like you could ramp up your z4 threshold ctl. Or ramp your z6 ctl to race crits.

After life settles in seasonally realistically my ctl and atl donít tell me much. More of the same. But dipping into event specific work may change.

It really only helped with tapering for an A+ race kind of deal.

As far as ctl staying same and ftp rising, I track Kjís per week as a TP chart. That way I can see some kind of progression.
Look into Xert, a more comprehensive training and fitness algorithm that isn't based solely around FTP and TSS. In particular they track low, high, and peak training loads and how different types of training contribute to each that is more than just TSS.
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Old 08-13-21, 07:12 PM
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I have a TP account, so I watch my CTL, I do many different things, not just cycling. I record them all, skiing, running, hiking, gym, cycling indoor, outdoor. I can tell I'm fit, have more ability and recover faster if my CTL is higher than if it's lower, But getting precise as to what it means I'll be best at, I don't think so. I take it as a very general fitness number. I know I suck if I'm much under 50 and will have a good day if I'm in the high 60's, no matter what I do, as long as I'm reasonably recovered, i.e. my TSB is 0-10. Otherwise, I know I'll do best at what I've been working hardest at, whichever discipline. I'm fine with that.

It's really not about those sorts of numbers. To get more precise, I look to my results. Was I able to ski 20,000' before I got tired? Was our hiking uphill VAM anywhere near 400? I hike with my wife, but I carry a pack, she doesn't. Did we average over 14 on that hilly tandem ride? YMMV. But I think that's rather what the OP is talking about. We're currently training for our annual 10-day backpack in the Cascades. Been doing that for about 45 years. I'm having to admit that it's getting toward the "maybe" end of the spectrum. Training for that, we've found our best results came from doing a hard tandem ride on Sunday, day hike on Monday, then a mix of day rides, strength training, and running before the next weekend. Tandeming is killer work for backpacking, oddly enough. If you've ever ridden a tandem with your SO, you'll understand. I think that this is rather what the OP is talking about. It's not obvious, one has to experiment. CTL is a vague guide.
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Old 08-13-21, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
I stopped here. If you get this wrong, I don't see the point in reading the rest.
I really don't see how leaving out the fact that the average is exponentially weighted has much to do with the point the OP was making. But since you did not read the rest of the post, I guess that you would know anything about that.

Other than "I know more than you know" what was your point? You did not seem to be interested in correcting errors in a manner that might be helpful to others.

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Old 08-13-21, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveLeeNC View Post
I really don't see how leaving out the fact that the average is exponentially weighted has much to do with the point the OP was making.
If someone doesnít understand CTL weighs more recent efforts more heavily than earlier ones, they donít understand what CTL represents; thatís why I wouldnít put any stock in their opinion. (or do you believe a workout from 40 days ago has as much impact as the one performed yesterday?)
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Old 08-14-21, 09:38 AM
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I have had a couple of professors who were more interested in punishing lack of knowledge than they were in helping one acquire knowledge. It's a common dominance strategy. I debated the difference in verbs between "I have had" and "I had" but decided to leave my first choice alone. Comments on that choice are welcome. I believe my first choice is durative and the second momentary, and I rather liked the correct implication that this happened over some period of time. English is so poor at denoting verb duration. For instance, "I be studying" is durative whereas "I am studying" only implies the momentary action, not including the past. The verb use in that first phrase had to be invented to allow people to better express themselves.
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Old 08-15-21, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
If someone doesnít understand CTL weighs more recent efforts more heavily than earlier ones, they donít understand what CTL represents; thatís why I wouldnít put any stock in their opinion. (or do you believe a workout from 40 days ago has as much impact as the one performed yesterday?)
There is that whole concept of ATL.
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Old 08-15-21, 02:42 PM
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Some may get some use from it. I don't. Or TSS. Or TSB.

I think it's been marketed as much more than it actually is. Same for TSS, TSB, ATL, and every other metric that WKO and Cusick and Coggan and all the other people behind it proselytized for years.

I first used WKO in 2006 and even then I started having issues relying on those metrics in the way people suggested you could. I, like probably everyone, have seen tremendous variations in performance on the spectrum of CTL (I've won races at CTLs of 60 and 100) and TSB (felt awesome at -20, horrible at +10, and vice versa, etc).

Probably the biggest issue I have with it is heat/humidity and its impact on performance. It's highly negative impact on performance, at least for me.

So during summer, I basically don't have workouts except for races. NP is typically much lower than shoulder seasons, so TSS is always lower, so CTL drops unless I up the volume substantially. Has fitness actually dropped? In most cases, no, it's been maintained or increased due to specific fitness.. A cold front and/or a big drop in a humidity and I'm right back to putting up season-best power numbers.

There's also the issue oft CTL being based on TSS, and TSS being based on NP. And NP can be gamed. Probably not a factor for most, but I have periods of particular races and workouts in which I can bust NP multiple times in a week. But again, probably a minor issue and not relevant to most.
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Old 08-15-21, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
This is kind of my current view. I just wonder for how long the specificity should start interfering with overall CTL. Sacrificing some CTL for specificity. Is it a month out, two months? All summer long as you do the unending crit series?
But I'd question why CTL would matter during your periods of higher performance, anyway.

CTL doesn't win bike races or take KOMs. What happens to CTL during performance phases simply shouldn't matter, in my opinion, so there's really no sacrifice at all. You built the fitness and then you enjoy it! And hopefully someone doesn't take you out in the races you're really going for!
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Old 08-16-21, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Like I wish I could track CTL and ATL by separate zones or combination of zones. That probably makes no sense to most, but in my feeble brain it does when I say it.

.
Well TR is trying to do such a thing with their progression levels (and also using these as a way to scale what workouts are assigned to the user that are within their particular level). My sweet spot is high because I did a series of sweet spot workouts this past week, and this week I'll be doing the CX specialty plan so my VO2 and Anaerobic levels should be going out as I do more workouts in those areas.


I'll admit, I "feel" stronger with higher CTL, but that's usually when I have done some combo of lots of endurance and sweet spot, so it's only one kind of "fitness" (as we know ctl often gets called fitness but it's a misnomer since it's really a training load measurement). But it wouldn't be the type of fitness I'd need to race CX. So my CTL will be lower for CX season but I'll be doing more of vo2 and anaerobic to be race fit.
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Old 08-16-21, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
Look into Xert, a more comprehensive training and fitness algorithm that isn't based solely around FTP and TSS. In particular they track low, high, and peak training loads and how different types of training contribute to each that is more than just TSS.
Do you think it accurately predicts performance gains? How accurate do you think it is WRT your thresholds beyond 5 minutes? Did it get your "FTP" right?

I used it in the prototype stage and up until about 2 years ago. I found not accurate.
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Old 08-16-21, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
Well TR is trying to do such a thing with their progression levels (and also using these as a way to scale what workouts are assigned to the user that are within their particular level). My sweet spot is high because I did a series of sweet spot workouts this past week, and this week I'll be doing the CX specialty plan so my VO2 and Anaerobic levels should be going out as I do more workouts in those areas.


I'll admit, I "feel" stronger with higher CTL, but that's usually when I have done some combo of lots of endurance and sweet spot, so it's only one kind of "fitness" (as we know ctl often gets called fitness but it's a misnomer since it's really a training load measurement). But it wouldn't be the type of fitness I'd need to race CX. So my CTL will be lower for CX season but I'll be doing more of vo2 and anaerobic to be race fit.
That has my attention.

My sweetspot and threshold with sprinklings of VO2 have been very high for a while given it's how I do "more" given a short schedule and that TT was my target race for 2021 (with a win).

Anaerobic and sprint pretty much totally neglected say for a random weeknight worlds dig.

I know I need some form for the cross races and will lose some with skills practice sessions weekly having a low training stimulus but big impact on racing. Which is fine. As that leads to training specific to trying to win. Otherwise, I'm still finding "more is more" is leading to PR's in most any power time period longer than 2min recently.

Shrug?

Only thing is I think I'm on low enough weekly hours I an afford to have more % spent on harder work. Once your hours get way on up, you simply can't ride at sweetspot ALL the freaking time. You have to go to more of an 80/20 style I guess, just guessing that's why.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:05 AM
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do you think: CTL is a lie for fitness, CTL drives fitness, or "it depends".....I think it depends
I don't think it's a lie. It doesn't drive fitness. Ideally it reflects fitness. It's fair to say it doesn't tell the whole story. You could do three slow century rides a week (if you had the time), and have a high CTL but low power and VO2. Any single number isn't going to tell the whole story of your capabilities, and whatever system you're using to track fitness needs to strike a balance between detail and comprehensibility in order to be useful to you (I'm looking at you, Golden Cheetah). If I were a coach or pro who was paid to understand all this stuff, I'd put more effort into comprehending all the stats that I'm generating.

there is something to "sweetspot" style methods of training?
This is one of the big debates in training. There's evidence that polarized training gives you a better payoff, but it also seems that it only works if you're investing a lot of time.

is "more is more" true to an extent? why or why not?
No, because if you do five high-intensity workouts a week you'll overtrain or burn out.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:25 AM
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For me CTL really just relates to my training volume, not necessarily my fitness. For example if I do a lot of high intensity interval training with proper recovery my CTL drops lower than if I do a load of high volume base. I just don't think TSS really combines intensity and volume equally. At least not for me. I need a lot more recovery from a 100 TSS intense interval session vs a 100 TSS base ride. So that tells me that they are not really equivalent levels of stress. So then ATL is also going to be misleading. But what I do get from tracking CTL/ATL/TSS is an idea of where I am during a specific training block. But if I change from one kind of training regime to another then CTL doesn't compare very well across the two different regimes. Right now my CTL is only 51, which is the lowest it's been all year, but my real world fitness is actually peaking. So I don't think the absolute CTL value is all that useful, but tracking changes in CTL/ATL during a consistent training block is fairly useful. What you can't say is that a CTL of 80 automatically means you are fitter than at CTL of 50. It only does if they are built on exactly the same kind of training regime. Otherwise it's apples vs oranges.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
Well TR is trying to do such a thing with their progression levels (and also using these as a way to scale what workouts are assigned to the user that are within their particular level). My sweet spot is high because I did a series of sweet spot workouts this past week, and this week I'll be doing the CX specialty plan so my VO2 and Anaerobic levels should be going out as I do more workouts in those areas.


I'll admit, I "feel" stronger with higher CTL, but that's usually when I have done some combo of lots of endurance and sweet spot, so it's only one kind of "fitness" (as we know ctl often gets called fitness but it's a misnomer since it's really a training load measurement). But it wouldn't be the type of fitness I'd need to race CX. So my CTL will be lower for CX season but I'll be doing more of vo2 and anaerobic to be race fit.
I think TR have really got this well sorted now. I don't actually use their platform, but I do follow their podcast with interest. What they are doing here makes a lot of sense to me.
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