Training with Power

19 12 2008

Training  with a Power Meter is a new concept, to me obviously. Since I started training with my CompuTrainer, I have this new data: Output Power.

The big question is, what do I do if it? What does it mean? I’ll be honest, I don’t know the answer yet, but I think what I have published previously on “How to use CompuTrainer in my day to day routine“, does make sense. My intend was to use Ergometer mode and increase the power (watts) during the intervals. I guess it makes more sense than I first thought, specially in a controlled environment (i.e. indoors). 

Doing a little research on the subject, I found a great page (Cycling Mathematics) where the author stated: “A completely inexperienced rider, for long periods of time, can output 50 or 100 watts of leg power; whereas a Tour de France racer is said to be able to generate 500 watts or more of continuous power—still not up to a horse, but mighty impressive, none the less!“. There is also a citation at wikipedia, where they mention “The average ‘in-shape’ person can produce about 3 watts/kg for more than an hour“… anyhow, so far my best average over one hour was 2.7 Watts/kg. Now, mind you, I was NOT pushing as hard as possible. This was during my regular off-season Foundation Ride. Anyhow, I guess I’m not as fit as I once thought.

What I find interesting though is that my Average Power Output is anywhere between 135 to 200 Watts over one hour. Why does it change this much? Until recently I have only trained using Heart Rate (HR). In my mind it makes a lot of sense to train with a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) specially for running, but when it comes to the bike… not sure yet. I know, a bunch of people will jump on me now, but lets just think for a minute. When we are out there on the road, on a hot day burning day or just about to get sick, you can’t really follow the Power you’re producing. Isn’t that a result, a consequence? Yea, maybe my average power output is 200 Watts on a good day, but if I didn’t sleep the night before, that will probably not happen.

The only thing I want to say is that I’m still not convinced that a power meter is the best device for a race. I would guess it makes sense to train with a Power Meter, but I still makes more sense to listen to your body (with a HR or just feeling) during a race. Specially in long races, if you burn your energy to keep a certain power, you might not finish an Ironman!

I will use the CompuTrainer to keep track and to train based on power, as I will do at least 2 workouts indoors even in the summer. I’ll still trust the HRM when going outside. Why? First, I don’t want to spend the money on a power meter, but secondly because I really think that, specially in the races I should listen to my body not my power meter.

Did you know that if you race against the CompuTrainer pacer that is ALWAYS at the same power output, you might win even with a worse Power Average? That’s right, happens all the time. Why? I think it is because it makes more difference to use the power at the right time (i.e. uphill) and save it downhill… again, what do I know?! Maybe the software is just wrong. 😉

By the way, during my research, I also came across another interesting page: Cycling Performance Tips where talks about staying seated as much as possible, which is something I always try to do… ask Bruno! He keeps bugging me because I almost never leave the seat!



One response

28 12 2008

Ah… I don’t believe this – there are moments I simply don’t want to stay seated – it actually relaxes me to stand up once in a while. Will read the article, though.

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