How much TSS/Week can you handle and how can we raise our sustainable limit?

I’m currently following a 3 week on / 1 week off marathon plan and SSB1/2 LV that I adjusted for a 3 on 1 off cycle as was suggested somewhere on here. My A-race half distance tri is quite late in the year so I figured there’s time for a marathon in April.

I’m hitting all my key workouts and feel extremely fit and fast. However, I barely reach week 3 with good form. Yesterdays long run was already terrible. You all know the feeling where you really need a day off, right?

I reviewed my training log from last season and until today and it appears that I top out somewhere around 600TSS per week (bike and run combined). It was like that for my full distance season and I see this limit now again, only with higher intensity (I average between 65 and 75 TSS/hour over a week). In other words, right now I couldn’t add another quality workout even if I had the time.

I wonder, how much can other half and full distance triathletes recover? Any recommendations on what to do to raise that limit (apart from stopping being a wimp?)

Let me start by saying that I never tracked my TSS. I found out early on, I needed to eat more in general, but especially on the bike. Once I did this, I was a much happier camper. Getting proper sleep is of course HUGE as well.

I did the high volume full distance base, build, specialty plans last year. I ran 5-6 days a week w/one tempo (warmup, 10km tempo, cool down) and one long run (usually easy, sometimes build into tempo). Did I ever feel tired? Yes. I would then skip a run, typically an easy run on Fri or Sat. Could I have added more intensity? Even if I wanted to, I could not have added more intensity w/out running myself into the ground or worse getting injured. Maybe instead of a tempo run I could have done some intervals. On the bike, I think the plans provided all the intensity I needed or wanted.

The short version: While TSS can be useful, TSS is not the be all end all metric. Chasing TSS is a mistake.

There are more blog articles and podcasts related to TSS if you search. Here are a few:

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I too, have a hard time with the cumulative effects of training stress. I’m in ssblv2, and I got off to a good start, but by week 3, I suddenly couldn’t hack it. I did ssbmv1 and had similar issues, and figured dialing it back to LV for ssb2 would fix the problem, but still I’m struggling. This last week, since I blew up, I’ve just been picking through the library and doing a mix of sweet spot intervals, and short vo2 intervals, but keeping the workouts to only 45 minutes. I’m feeling pretty good again, but I’m about to leave town for a couple of weeks, so my rhythm will be broken. I’m taking the MTB and will get out for a few fun rides. When I get back, I’m considering just starting back up with ssb1lv.

Anyway, you’re not alone, struggling with the stress load of even an LV plan

I am doing an average of 600TSS a week (580/660/710/420). My Base period started in mid November and I felt that 600TSS was at the limit and often quality of workouts suffered. Since beginning of February I feel that my body has been able to cope with the training load and I am now ready to focus on quality of the workouts and don’t need to deal with volume constraints anymore - which comes in time for the Build phase.

My advise is either to focus on increasing training volume or if you don’t have the same time then to find an appropriate volume that let’s you perform quality workouts.

This thread is old already, but the problem might be yet around you, right? I hope not.
similarly to my case… too often too sore. I wonder if you have by now improved your TTS/ symptoms after training and if yes, what did you change in your training routine. Thanks

I was trying to find info on max TSS for longer than ironman distance triathlon. My big week last week was just shy of 2,800. Average happy level seems around 1750 average. So it’s really is different one person to the next I think. Max for ironman high week seems around 1,400 according to Training peak articles.

I’m not certain how you are calculating TSS, but those numbers seem astronomically high. I can tolerate more TSS than a lot of athletes (regularly ~800+ / week) and 15+ hours. 1750, let alone 2800, seems impossible, TBH.

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Training peaks. Heart rate. Last week was 40 hours. Usually 25 hrs. Includes running too which typically creates higher TSS due to higher hr.

That is definitely on the high end for a sustainable number, here is the guide from TP

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Did you set different LTHR for cycling and running? They are different and should result in different TSS. Even if HR is higher during running doesn’t mean you are generating more TSS if your running LTHR is higher(generally true)

Well, that explains some of the high numbers, but it still seems extraordinarily high.

Are you using Power on the bike, or just HR?

If you are doing just HR across the board, as @redlude97 notes, check to see that your HR zones are set correctly (and independently) of each other. I would also suggest using pace vs. HR for establishing rTSS for your runs. IIRC, when I was doing tri training, I would roughly average 10rTSS / mile.

If you keep everything based on HR, I suppose that will work, but just realize that your TSS metrics are going to be unique to you, so asking people what TSS you should be doing is not going to accomplish anything because we don’t have your data to understand why your weekly TSS is so high.

To clarify for Running uses heart rate but for my cycling is all based on power as well as wearing a HRM too. I set those power zones in TP based on FTP tests (usually use the ramp test on trainer road) the TSS usually copies exactly across from TR calcs which are based on all up to date stats. Heart rate zones were calculated around two months back but need to revisit them as they are lower now. My rTSS average 11-12 a mile. Most of my work on the bike is sweet spot blocks of 16-30 minutes. I do sometimes do 1hr sets but mostly 2:30-4h sessions. My power zones are based on FTP via ramp tests. Last week I did around 15hrs on the bike, 100 miles running, 16km of swimming and 3hrs of strength work. I’m aware of the guide in training peaks for high and low guidelines but it’s for an ironman where it tops out. It’s a bit of a niche position as there isn’t a guide for continuous Deca. My regular running schedule would be 100 miles a week historically when solely doing that but has peaked at 250 miles in a week in March this year. I’ve increased my bike time the last couple of months. Will have a look at the zones for running though as they do need tweaking again but even so historically I’ve had very high TTS loads and performed best on high volume. I was just trying to figure out what posts I could find discussing tss for multi iron and ultra triathlon.

I forgot to add the pace zones are up to date on training peaks for running as they got updated a couple of weeks ago when I did a marathon PB. Thanks for the input, I probably need to find some info on some of the dark depths of the ultra triathlon forums or something. It’s a bit niche. Sorry for the thread hijack!

I have never paid attention to TSS, so I don’t know what is normal. Just glancing at my TR calendar it looks like I flat around 800. My biggest this year was 1200, which was a week where I did three races in a row at Sea Otter (road race, circuit race, and XC) and added extra miles after the races for fun. I ride 20-25 hours a week.

I don’t track stress from running, gym, or anything else. I just don’t care.

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Damn…that is a crap ton of volume!!! I’d break down, no doubt…

Going back to my comment re: rTSS, your running alone would put you are ~1000 rTSS, so maybe your weekly numbers are in the ballpark. 15 hours on the bike (depending on pace) is probably in the 600-700TSS plus swimming (which is kinda suspect for TSS).

Damn…that is very impressive.


Swim is actually less at just shy of 250 for the week. The bike is 1100. Largely focused on sweet spot blocks of 20-30 mins as the ride will be 1800km, so long endurance sets inevitably create higher TSS. Marcus baker, Spickard and wright peak I used quite a lot as workouts. That’s all calculated by trainer road. Heart rate and power zones all accurate and up to date. Run is just under 1200. Then the strength/weights work only gets tracked to show as being done and to keep an eye on Heart rate. It’s not text book I’ll give you that! Hence wandering through the internet the either day wondering what others TSS loads were. Hope whatever race you’re training for goes well!