Mountain Bike Specific training: Part 3 – More data to validate Chronic Intensity Load.

So Jason Hilimire discovered my little blog on CIL and shared it with a good handful of coaches that liked what they saw. I’m really glad of that. My coach Dave Schell and I are really trying hard to make smart training easier, and it’s good that there are other people that have a need for that.

I plugged in some more data into WKO4 to see whether CIL was an accurate measure of Chronic Intensity for other athletes. These screen caps below are from Bryan Alders’ data, shared with his permission (Bryan is also coached by Dave Schell).


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Bryan broke his collarbone in late March 2013. You can see this as both CTL and CIL plummet, nullifying all the base miles he worked hard for early season. Starting in May, he started riding and racing again. He had great race results and a perceived high level of fitness, even though his CTL never bounced back. His CIL though reflected that intense fitness that he’d gained through intervals workouts, short track races, and intense (<2hr) MTB races.

Bryan’s 2013 cyclocross season was also awesome, culminating in 12th place at US Nationals. His CTL remained completely flat – if he tried to use that as a metric of training progress, he would be demoralised and discouraged. CIL on the other hand reflects the accumulation of intensity throughout the cross season, and explains his results very nicely. If you look at his peak 1 minute powers (orange dots), they also correlate with CIL.


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Bryan raced mainly 50 mile MTB races and 2 hour XC races in 2014. His CTL and CIL agree with each other for most of the season, with CIL increasing more quickly as soon as he started racing midweek short tracks in Boulder (late May). Bryan raced a moderate cross season, with little training in between, and that’s shown by a maintenance of CIL and a flat CTL. It’s likely that longer (>2.5 hour) MTB races are the point at which CTL and CIL overlap – they both do a good job of mapping fitness.


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Staying on the theme of narrating Bryan’s life through data, 2015 represents what happens when you get married – Bryan trained hard in the spring, gaining CTL and CIL equally. During the summer, he stopped training as hard as preparations for his wedding ramped up. But he still raced well – he won some 2 hour XC races in July/August, at the point where is CTL is already dropping. Looking at CIL, his Intensity Load is again more apparent. Bryan is now in the midst of a successful cross season. The CIL line has ramped up quickly from mid week interval workouts and weekend racing. CTL would not reflect this – Bryan’s riding time each week is around ~7 hours, which is not enough for CTL to credit him the work he is doing.