Load And Strain


This graph is something I’m planning to try out in my training diary next year. It’s the idea of measuring ‘Strain” a concept developed my Carl Foster. You have to measure your Rate Of Perceived Effort (RPE) for each session, that together with duration gives a measure of training load. You then get a measure of the monotony of your training by dividing the average daily load by the standard deviation of the daily load. Total load multiplied by monotony gives strain.

So the sort of things that give you a high strain are:

  1.       High duration
  2.       High intensity
  3.       Repetitive training

Foster developed this as a way of indicating over training. My plan next year is to track this and see what it gives me

Anyway, as an experiment I decided to plug in this years data. Of course I don’t have my RPE ratings but I felt that up until this summer I  pretty much trained at a constant level on the Borg scale of about 4 throughout the year other than at Epic Camp and during this last push phase. So for those I have a pretty good recollection of each days effort. So not perfect but the above makes reasonably interesting reading

The first spike is the build to New Zealand – major training strain due to the consistency and volume of my training. I went for several weeks where I ran and biked every day. The next major spike is Epic Camp – again consistently high volume but also some increased intensity. This all makes sense knowing how much training I did ! The past two months has seen me doing the most intense training sessions in quite a while but the volume has been less and the monotony very low since I’ve mixed up days each week of very high volume (and intensity) with low volume easy days. As a result the strain measure is very low.

The average daily load for the previous week is also plotted on the graph and makes for even more interesting reading. We see that Epic was the biggest load. Not unsurprising as it’s the only time I’ve really combined high volume with some decent intensity. Now looking at the period pre New Zealand we see a lower load than Epic but pretty high strain. Finally looking at the recent period we see that I’ve achieved almost as high a training load but on vastly reduced strain. Hopefully this indicates I’ve been getting some good work in and getting recovered. Be interesting to see how  I go at Wisconsin and more importantly Kona. I am going well currently but feel I’ll be much better prepared for Kona than Wisconsin. I must be sure to be mentally prepared for this to that whatever happens  at Wisconsin I am in the right state of mind to do the final preparations for Kona and race well.

The other interesting thing this raises is that the Maffetone Method seems to almost certainly imply higher strain since  I will be training at a similar RPE. The only way to relieve the monotony will be to vary the daily volume quite dramatically. Another thing to add into the mix for next year.

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