I've been riding with power for about 21 mos now and the PMC chart is still something of a mystery to me. My current CTL is at 70 or so, and it just recently came crashing down from 91 after about 10 days off the bike due to an accident. This past weekend was my first big weekend back since that accident, and I went out for 70 miles on Saturday, and 68 on Sunday. Numerically, Saturday was harder; TSS = 217 vs 178 on Sunday. I rode with the same group of guys as usual, about 10 or so, pretty much all of them have been riding while I've been sitting around, and during the "spirited segments" myself and another rider ended up dropping the rest of the chase group, while our Cat 2 friend blasted up the road. Basically, I'm about where I was. The only difference I have noticed is that for the mileage and TSS, I'm more tired than I usually am. I had about the same feeling of fatigue that I usually get from going 100 miles and TSS of 270-300.
If I were to go by the numbers, a CTL of 70 was about where I was in December. So, what does that mean?
This season, the highest CTL I was able to get to was about 95, just before a taper. I did well in the race I was shooting for. But, in order to get to that point, I was slogging away at threshold intervals, tabatas, and v02max intervals, in varying order, week after week. Average TSS per week as about 700-750. I was tired all the time and had no life outside of training. I'm already competitive in the 3's, but if I advanced to Cat 2 and wanted to do more than just hang on at the back, would that necessitate the kind of training that would lead to CTL of 105 or higher? Some of you guys put down weeks of 1000+ TSS, which just blows my mind, because to get there I would have to do the kind of workout that requires some recovery time day after day with no recovery. I suppose at some point it's genetics, and you just have to look at what you can do and say "Yep, I am where I am", but I'm hoping there's something I'm missing. I'm hoping that progress is similar to LeMond's saying, "It doesn't get easier, you just get faster" only instead "CTL doesn't go higher, you just get fitter".
One of the reasons I got a power meter, THE reason for getting a power meter, is so I could train smarter. I guess what I'm really asking is, how does CTL drive your training, if at all?