Catch the Wave
It’s been a while since I looked at what a typical year looks like. In the distant past I’ve shared a bar chart that showed my average mileage for each month of the year, and more recently I showed how my weight fluctuated throughout the year.
But those are indirect measures. Now, with eight years of heart rate data available, I can average my chronic training load (CTL, aka “Fitness”) for each day of the calendar year. That’s the chart that follows.
Since this is averaged data, there are absolutely zero surprises here. I train up during the spring, peak in the summer, gradually tail off through the fall, and bottom out in the winter.
Looking more carefully, the year can actually be broken down into six discrete two-month periods:
- Pre-season: mid-Feb to mid-Apr
- Training season: mid-Apr to mid-Jun
- Peaking: mid-Jun to mid-Aug
- Sustaining: mid-Aug to mid-Oct
- Detraining: mid-Oct to mid-Dec
- Off-season: mid-Dec to mid-Feb
There are a few mini-peaks whose dates are worth noting:
- Feb 13: Lowest Fitness of the year.
- Feb 20: Apparently spring training begins very suddenly!
- Jul 9: Peak Fitness, usually after the ABC Ride or a solo century over the holiday.
- Aug 6: After tapering, a secondary peak around the Pan-Mass Challenge or Every Neighborhood Ride.
- Oct 1: Autumnal last hurrah; after this, it’s all downhill...
It’s important to note that this chart doesn’t include data since December 1, when I started using Zwift and my new indoor trainer. With my end-of-January CTL now near 60—45 points higher than average—that would dramatically raise my off-season average, so we’ll leave those numbers out for the time being.
Look for this measurement to eventually reappear in my 2019 recap blogpost, as a baseline/average to compare my 2019 training effort against, since this year will be anything but average!