Does CTL level matter differently for different events?

I’ve traditionally been a low volume rider, averaging around 6 hours per week across the year (never quite hit the 300 hours!). Despite this I’ve progressed quite well, (4.8 w/kg FTP, pretty strong around the 5-10 minute powers too) but I’ve been guilty of wanting to be on form all of the time. Starting this week I intend to complete some proper base training, my first focus will be SSB MV2, on this I may interchange a session for a longer ride here and there.

My CTL high has never gone into the 70s (usually low 60’s) but this season I want to increase my volume and looking to use CTL as a measure / target to balance this. My focuses are a hilly road race (approx 2.5 hours, 50 miles, 6500ft climbing) at the end of March. I’ll then look to do flatter road races / crits and then build towards another A race in July which is a 2 hour hilly road race.

My main question is this, alongside completing a proper base and some specificity should (Assuming the composition of that CTL is right) I use CTL and a target of 80+ as a measure of targeting peak performance?

Just to add on this, might CTL rarely shows an obvious build, absorb type line on the graph, it’s all over the place and for long periods flat.

CTL is a measure of training load, and not performance. I’ve found it helpful for defining TSS of easy/medium/hard workouts, and some measure of having enough “legs” to handle harder 400-800 TSS rides without a lot of recovery. For example I did a double century with TSS in upper 80s and felt fine the next day, and five days later smashed a 1 minute power PR I had been chasing.

TSB can be helpful for tapering, although I’ve not seen a strong correlation between my TSB and my best results. Others swear by TSB.

Looking at the PMC chapter in the Training and Racing with a Power Meter book, it states there is still a good mix of art and science.

I might get the TARWAPM book back out but thanks for you reply. I figured CTL would be a rubber stamp for the load I’d produced. I figured that as long as my load was achieved correctly having target of 80 CTL a week from race day should be a good barometer to help planning.

Personally I tend to think of CTL as a measure of base building. My CTL starts dropping when working on short power, if I don’t have time for long weekend rides. But I’m improving and getting faster. I’ve had great results with CTL in 60s and 70s.

There are a lot of opinions on CTL, that is mine for what it’s worth.


My feelings on CTL, as far as using it as a metric around racing, is that it might come more into play during stage races, when you need to be able to go a few days in a row without completely wrecking yourself. I see CTL as something where the higher it goes, the higher level of riding you can sustain without getting digging yourself into a huge hole. So it might not matter as much for a single event.


The way I think about this is:
1 I want to follow a plan [in your case, SSB MV, followed by something like sustained power build]
2 I want consistency.

If I follow the plan, CTL will rise, except for slight dips for recovery weeks. If I follow the plan consistently, CTL will only fall during recovery weeks.

CTL will be what it is because of the plan. It’s the plan and the consistency that matters. So it’s not the level of CTL that matters so much [apart from stage events and very long rides, as others have noted] as its trend: is it rising consistently, except for recovery weeks?

As they say, target the process, not the result. Use the result only insofar as it informs you about process – and that information is in the consistent rise.

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If my reading comprehension is on target you are saying keeping the relative proportion of your training intact but increase the overall training load by about 15% vs what you have done in previous seasons.

Given that you have been carrying a relatively conservative training load it doesn’t seem unreasonable to target a 15% training load increase so long as you maintain the same relative mix that has brought you success in the recent past. In other words, not JUST extra zone 2 training load…if you were doing 3x10 threshold interval workouts now you’re doing 3x11.5…not necessarily that specific but I mean +15% VO2max, +15% threshold, +15% endurance, etc.

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I mentioned this in another thread, but just looking at week one of SSBMV2, the first week is quite hard if you didn’t have the prep of the prior plan. The sat/sun combo workouts alone are 5x10min of FTP work followed by 5x12m of SS the next day. I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have been ready for that even though I came into the off season doing 750 to 950tss per week. I have been doing around 650-700tss SSBMV1 and it feels harder than my higher tss weeks outside.

I’m not saying you won’t be able to jump right into SSBMV2, but don’t be surprised if it’s super hard. If it wasn’t, I’d be surprised and impressed! Don’t be discouraged if it is too hard. If it does end up being too much, then all you need to do is back up to the SSBV1 plan.

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Some great opinions and advice here, thank you for the contributions it’s really helping.

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I think it’s fair to say that the plan will be challenging, (as it should be) but I’ll handle it ok, the difference will be the consistent quality as opposed to lots of time wasting.

I’ve really been looking forward to getting going on this as I’m excited about the change of attack, just need to get it right, hence the questions.

Have you ever done SSBMV I and SSBMV II in that order? The reason why I’m asking is because I never had the opportunity to do SSB when I started TR this year, started in January so did two builds instead because I figured Base was already done having one season of riding behind me. That wasn’t the case and having done SSBMV I completely I now see how beneficial this setup is to progress throughout the season.

No I haven’t fully done any of the base plans so far and I will be tweaking what i do to suit my training days (Wed/Thu/Sat/Sun) so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. Consistency is key for me, once I start stringing weeks together I feel the difference, same for most I guess but this time I’m determined to up the quality.

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