What is Training Load

There are so many terms in endurance sports and I often ignore them and focus simply on working hard. I’m trying to change that and give myself a better understanding of what the various data are and what they represent.

I’ll admit, the amount of data in sports today is overwhelming. I typically live by the principle, if you work hard, good things will happen. Obviously that’s only true given all the variables work out in your favor-injury, external circumstances, etc. Let’s assume they do work out for us throughout this post.

One of the misconceptions I’ve had is that the data is only useful at the elite levels. It’s probably more important there but it’s not the only place it can be helpful to a person in training. Most of my training life I’ve only looked at the basic metrics. Duration and distance, more than anything, have been my indicators.

I’ve know of other metrics like RPE and TSS but I’ve never really taken a deep dive into them. I decided to dig a little bit more when my new Garmin watch displayed a 7 Day Load metric i hadn’t seen before. The metric showed I was in the red but I didn’t know what that meant. I figured it wasn’t good since that’s what we typically associate with that color.

So instead of ignoring it I looked it up on Youtube.

Now I've still got plenty of research to do on this but my quick and dirty understanding is this. Training load is measurement based on the last 7 days of working out. Staying in the green simply means your body is responding well to the training and neither over-training nor under-training. Over-training would lead to burnout and injury and under-training being a waste of time. It takes in to account things like duration and distance but also, and more importantly, heart rate.

This is incredibly helpful for me because my tendency is to over-train myself into injury. I don't want that. Combining this with the CTL (Chronic Training Load) metric in Training Peaks is extremely helpful for me. CTL is the rolling average of your daily Training Stress Scores over a longer period, typically 28 days or more. It represents your accumulated training over time and gives you an indication of your overall fitness level. In simple terms, CTL reflects the "fitness" gained from consistent training over weeks and months.

So combining the 7 day metric and the 28 day metric really helps to see the bigger picture. I might be overloaded the past 7 days but in the last 28 it can reveal I'm just pushing for improvement. When the 28 day metric starts to tip then I should really pull back a bit.

In the end, I want to stay injury free and using these stats will help to that end. I'm anxious to do more but not at the cost of my body breaking down. That would several steps backward for my body and my mind.