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“Some number fetisj” by Andy Deprez


During the first week of March, we could enjoy early spring weather, motivating many cyclists to go out and train some volume. So did I!

My training scheme was set at 9 hours that week, however, I ended up plus 15 hours on the bike, including my first 5 hours ride of this season. The question then arises whether this is now a good thing or not, as it could potentially lead to being over-trained and not allowing to recuperate sufficiently. That’s where the numbers come in!

The total number of hours
or kilometers does not say anything.

.

The total number of hours or kilometers does not say anything. You could use those numbers to brag to your friends over a beer in the pub, but as we all know pubs are closed for ages already. The number of kilometers is typically also the number one parameter people look at when they are screening Strava performances of someone else. All of this is old school and goes back to the days of Briek Schotte and Roger De Vlaeminck.

Nowadays we monitor training effort and progress through parameters such as TSS, FTP, CTL, NP, MLSS, VO2Max… And that’s where consultants and accountants start feeling at ease in a world full of abbreviations, parameters, and formulas.

.

And that’s where
consultants and accountants
start feeling at ease
in a world full of
abbreviations, parameters,
and formulas.

What is TSS? Training Stress Score (TSS) is a composite number that takes into account the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at a single estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that training session. It is conceptually modeled after the heart rate-based training impulse (TRIMP). By definition, one hour spent at Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is equal to 100 points.

What is FTP? Functional Threshold Power is commonly defined as the highest average power you can sustain for approximately an hour.

What is NP? Normalized power (NP) is the adjusted (normalized) average power output for a ride or segment of a ride. Power output on a ride is variable (due to small changes in external power demands e.g. small changes in elevation, small surges in speed, wind, etc.) so NP represents the physiological cost of the ride or segment of the ride if that power output had been constant.

Now going back to my 15 hours of training last week and knowing my FTP is currently at 234Watt or 168 Hart Frequency, this resulted in 830TSS and 170Watt NP. To stay humble and put things into perspective, Mathieu Van der Poel marked 389WattNP during the almost 5 hours long Strade Bianche with a TSS exceeding 400. If you know that one can only have 100TSS max/hour, this means Van der Poel was against limits during the full race.

So far so good, I have liked cycling, I like long rides resulting in decent NP values, but I also like good food and drinks, resulting in a less favorable weight. I leave it up to you to calculate my current weight, by I’m currently at 2,6Watt/kg. Van der Poel was at +5Watt/kg racing the Strade Bianche.

Ideally, the full EY Cycling team will be somewhere between 2,5 and 3Watt/kg to bring our adventure to a good end.
Most of the team is taking a re-test next week to see what progress they made and how the Watt/kg has evolved after 2 months of intensive training.

So you see, cycling is very simple, it’s just about the Watts and the Kilograms…
But for me, it’s also about the fun, camaraderie, and the beer after!

Andy.

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