In conjunction with TrainingPeaks, Justin Wagner of TeamODZ leads the “Watts up with Power?” ride each Wednesday at 6:30AM PST/9:30AM EST/14:30 GMT.

The “Watts up with Power?” ride is likely the slowest group ride you’ll find on Zwift, because it focuses on learning the basics of power based training while riding together on Zwift. Each ride is streamed to Zwift LIVE by ODZ on Facebook, and focuses on teaching specific principles of power-based training. For viewers that are unable to attend live, the teaching is made available for all to review afterwards.

Here is the summary for July 12, 2017 from ride leader Taylor Thomas.

For the majority of athletes adhering to a structured training plan, the end goal is to show up to race day fit and prepared. But how do you know if you’re ready to race, and if your fitness is where it should be? Form is a metric that allows athletes to see how it is their training, and eventual taper, is impacting their ability to produce race day efforts. Form is an integral part of race day preparation, and something that all athletes should understand.

What is Form?

Form is simply how ready to race you are, or your “freshness” for an event. It tells you how prepared your body is to perform to its maximum potential.

Training Stress Balance (TSB) is the metric that puts form into numerical context. It’s calculated by subtracting today’s fatigue from today’s fitness. A plus or minus TSB provides a snapshot of both an athlete’s freshness and fatigue.

Form reflects not only your fatigue but also your fitness. How high or low your form is depends on which area is the focus of your training. Lower fatigue equals higher form.

Monitoring and understanding form helps take the guess work out of preparing for a race. The application of a metrics-based approach ensures athletes are achieving their desired goals.

How to Achieve Form

TSB is often most closely monitored in the build up towards an A priority race. The goal TSB should between 15-25 depending on how much fatigue your body can handle on race day. Some athletes perform better by maintaining a small amount of fatigue, so find the number that’s right for you.

The workouts in the weeks and days before a big race are crucial. The overall goal is to schedule workouts that keep fitness high, but allow form to be reached on race day. 10-14 days out from a high priority race is usually sufficient to begin a taper. Typically volume is where the biggest reduction in training is seen.

Lower priority B and C races are to be approached differently. The goal may be to “train through” these races with little to no taper involved. A TSB of -10 to 0 is often the goal for these lesser priority races.

Acute Training Load (ATL) is a measure of your actual fatigue from day to day. Keeping an eye on this metric will allow for a greater understanding of form, as well as help you plan daily workouts during your build up and taper.

How to Track It

The Performance Management Chart (PMC) is one of the best ways to keep track of not only form, but also CTL (fitness) and ATL (fatigue). Tracking TSB in relation to other key metrics helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your progress.

Training Stress Score (TSS) is one of the best metrics for understanding how your training will impact your form on race day. Too much TSS and your TSB will be too low, not enough and you’ll be too rested.

Plan your build up and taper in advance. Know what workouts will produce the desired results, and what the TSS for those workouts will be. This process will let you know exactly where you’ll be on race day.

Using an Annual Training Plan (ATP) can help to plan for the times when you’re coming into and out of goal races. Set target CTL and TSS values for priority events, as well as each week to ensure you’re exactly where you need to be at every point in your training.

What to Look For

A range of negative 10 to positive 10 TSB should be avoided for the majority of training. This range is only appropriate if you’re on your way to reaching form for an A race, or coming off of some down time after a priority race.

Be mindful of a TSB higher than positive 25. More than likely that means that you’re too rested and not applying enough training stress.

Form in the range of negative 10 to negative 30 is typically a productive zone during focused training. Try to stay there when training is at its peak.

A TSB below negative 30 should be approached with great care. Form can dip below -30 during peak training, but it should only be for a very short period of time, and accompanied by adequate rest and recovery.