Is the most demoralising bit of kit out there? I went on holiday on the 10th June and at the time my fitness level was 76. I had nine days completely off the bike and came back with a fitness level of 62!! 3 days later after only a few turbo sessions I set a 10 mile PB (by 38 secs) on my regular course. I have now done a weeks worth of workouts (including that TT) and my fitness level is still shown as only 63!! This is very demoralising to say the least and what do I have to do to get it back up gain? I have attached a page showing all my workouts since I came back and a view of my previous and current fitness level chart. cheers


This should help:



Training stress and CTL (chronic training load I think) are simply measures calculated by people a while back that can reflect where a person is at and while it can be used as a measure of fitness, it’s definitely better to measure your fitness by riding and seeing how you’re getting on.

38s off your PB. I’d say your rest week and workouts before you did the TT put you in to a great fitness place.

There’s a heap of reading on TSS/CTL/Form etc out there.

My view - sometimes these charts reflect a general trend in my fitness, but the actual number on a given week doesn’t really matter.

At the most basic level - do bucket loads of riding and your CTL will go up. Will you be fitter? Maybe. You could add 10 to your CTL by going on an 8hr ride I’d guess.

Strategic training though to achieve long term fitness goals tends to be the way to go, which sometimes sees an increasing trend for a while, then drops as you taper/recover …. and repeat.


I can relate to that feeling. Especially since I am trying to up my fitness score up to 100 I learned how much training load it takes to level up and how quickly it drops with easy days or days off.
However, you need to keep in mind, that the fitness score (from what I remember) is more like a figure of how your fatigue and your training load relate. Or in even simpler terms it doesn’t tell, how fit you are, but how much training load you can handle at a given time. Thus it’s no wonder to set new PBs with a slightly lower fitness score because that means you are relatively fresh.


Thanks, it does seem to favour long rides. It went up from 73 to 79 a week previous to my hols after a 100 mile ride. Interval workouts don’t seem to have the same effect no matter how hard they are. cheers


Your fitness is your fitness, congratulations on you 10mile TT PB. The numbers on are just numbers. In my experience they bear no relation to my real fitness.


What is WAY more important, per Coggins, is fatigue. Your CTL could be 100, but if your fatigue is -20, you aren’t gong to perform as well if your CTL was 80 with a positive 20 fatigue.


I stopped chasing CTL a few years ago. This year I’ve not signed up for any events. Much happier for it. I don’t get frustrated on holidays or vacations when my CTL drops. Wife’s happy because I’m spending more time with her and the family.

My original goal for cycling was simply to stay in shape and lose some weight. Somehow that got usurped by my competitive self, driven to do all kinds of endurance events. Getting angry when my wife scheduled anything on Saturday mornings.

I had no balance, the PMC chart ruled my life.

I’m not as fast as I was, but I’d never want to go back to chasing CTL. And it’s flawed because gains come on rest days/weeks.

CTL can be a cruel tyrant.


I agree with the other commenters. The Fitness metric on is really just a number that’s telling you how much work you’re doing and doesn’t really tell you how actually fit you are. If you really want to measure your actual fitness then you need to do fitness test and time trials - like you are doing. So if you’re setting PR’s then your fitness plan is working regardless of the amount of total work you’re actually putting in.

When I do a KOS attempt my Fitness score on usually jumps like 8 or 10 points. But I’m exhausted and not really any more fit. If anything, at that moment I am less fit. So, like any other metrics, it has to be taken with a grain of salt and in context with all the other work you’re doing and the numbers and other measurable metrics you have available.


“‘When I use data,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make data mean so many different things.’

‘"The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master. That is all.’”

I :heart: my intervals charts. :grimacing:

(with respect to Sir @LewisCarroll)


As the old saying goes, “All models are wrong, some models are useful.”

You need to decide what real-world metric matters to you, (event, personal goal, etc.), and then see how your ability to perform corresponds to the numbers you see - not the other way around.

Your body may or may not be well modeled by, Xert, SYSTM, WKO, ATL/CTL/Form, et cetera. Population statistics do not tell us about individuals.


I totally agree with you on this! Every analytics tool I have says I am getting less and less fit. But I’m able to ride faster/further/harder.

A good analogy is this “it’s less about the weight on the scale and more about how loose your trousers are getting”


Thanks everyone, some really good analogies there giving me a more balanced view of where I am and what I am doing :+1:


This was great thread BTW! Thanks to all.

I’m using to see general trends, to get a reminder to take it easy a day to two if I dip in the red, and to gauge if I’m “fresh” enough to go for something more if I feel like. I love the graphs, but thankfully, I’m not chasing numbers! This is a good reminder not to.


Amen. :pray:t3:


I really appreciate the perspective offered in this thread. It reminds me of a friend of mine who struggles with insomnia. He uses an Apple watch or some other wearable to quantify his sleep. He is now obsessed with the data on his watch, and it has become totally disconnected from his actual experience. If he wakes up and his watch tells him he is not well rested, then that must be the truth, and he feels tired and moody the rest of the day regardless of what actually happened overnight. And his anxiety and poor functioning have gotten much worse because of it, resulting in… Insomnia. I wish I could tell him to laugh it off and throw the watch in the trash, but he really is suffering because of it.


Several years ago I was interested in getting a smart watch that included sleep tracking, but after researching different models and reading more about it, I decided that the array of available metrics and analyses would be more likely to decrease my sleep quality rather than help it.

There is some evidence and research that shows this can be a risk when using them:

That Sleep Tracker Could Make Your Insomnia Worse - The New York Times

The Sad Truth About Sleep-Tracking Devices and Apps - The New York Times

The podcast That Triathlon Show also has some episodes where they talk about wearable devices for sleep tracking:

Devices, apps, and technology for triathletes with Michael Liberzon, Andrew Buckrell and Mikael Eriksson | EP#253 — That Triathlon Show — Overcast
Sleep - the foundation of health and performance with Dr. Charles Samuels | EP#216 — That Triathlon Show — Overcast


I like being able to see my approximate sleep time stats, but I long ago decided to use it only as nice info that gives me a good idea of the time I actually fell asleep and then woke up, but only as a relative approximation. Everything else it tells me is usually suspect. So, I can definitely see how it could drive someone batty if they tried looking at it too closely and relying on it too much.


Data should never be used in situations where the precision of the data, or the accuracy of the measurement or algorithm is not understood.

Manufacturers of these devices are not honest about it. Providers of analysis software need to be up front about their data sets. SYSTM is not a shining example here. Medical care often is not. And providers of popular “AI” software are certainly not.

Unfortunately, this is not something that is taught in elementary education.


I have used sleep tracking on my Garmin Fenix 6S since it was available as a feature. I find it helpful info, but it’s not something that is “spot on” in accuracy. I’m certain of that from various perspectives, including my actual vs the it’s determination of: sleep start and finish times, awake times, and at least occasionally, dream sleep times. That last one is harder to argue, one might say, but hey, I’ll argue that I at least SOMETIMES KNOW I had very active dream sleep.:slight_smile:

I definitely agree that it is possible to get so hung up on the numbers from our devices that it does more harm than good.
And I also agree that we as consumers are not privy to as much information about these “numbers” that are fed to us as we should be. And even though there are cases to be made about whether or not that information could be misunderstood, I still think it should be provided.

We are stuck “buying a pig in a poke” and when it squeals, we have no idea why or what to do about it! The seller of the pig wants us to tell everything and then, IF the seller is feeling agreeable, he or she MAY respond with some feedback… or may NOT.
But NO WAY is that seller going to tell us how WE could understand the Pig Latin our latest purchase is saying to us…

I will give SOME credit to Garmin in that they DO provide “Insights” about sleep patterns, and what healthy sleep “looks like” and they DO suggest ways to improve your daily activities that may be contributing to poor sleep. These are pretty basic, but there are a lot of people that don’t read and learn for themselves, so some basics might actually catch their attention and give some help.

My takeaways have mostly been in the form of REMINDERS of things I already knew but ignored with great skill! Like exercising intensely late at night… or staying up much too late too often… and other things I just kept thinking I was privileged and could ignore without penalty. :roll_eyes:

I think the best graphical illustration tools I’ve used for overall fitness have been the Strava Fitness and Freshness tool. It seems to be pretty accurate in terms of what it really says, and as this thread illustrates, the value of these numbers to an individual depends on interpreting them in light of what the individual does know that Strava does not know, like how you’ve been sleeping, whether you’ve been sick, what life stresses are going on, etc.

So even though my Fitness number has fallen off of late, only I can understand WHY and whether or not that is something to be concerned with or not. And generally, the answer is, “No, not really a concern. Pretty much expected.”
Do I want to change it enough to address my sleeping habits? Do I want to be a little more disciplined about my training load? Do I want to incorporate more Zone 2 rides? Am I willing to do more MAP or AC or NM workouts?
All these things impact the “numbers” I’m going to be showing next week or month. And mostly, I really knew that without anything telling me.
But getting REMINDED of what I know… well, THAT’S something else altogether!
So I personally don’t MIND getting REMINDED.