I know I know, it’s a hard concept to get your head around and if you are anything like me you will struggle with it.
From the moment I took up road cycling and began tearing around my local areas, I’d get in from a ride and the first question the boys would ask would be ‘so what was your average speed?’
Even now after a ride that’s still the first question that gets asked. Not ‘was it hilly?’ ‘How far did you go?’ or ‘what was the terrain and the weather like?’
Since I got a bit more serious with my training I’ve had to start thinking differently about how I measure and evaluate my training sessions. This is where it starts to get a lot more complicated than cycling around the same circuit and checking the average to see if I am getting any faster – I started training with power.
I invested in the Garmin Vector 2 pedals, which although are a third of the cost of my beautiful bike they give my coach and I so much data to work with and the best thing is I can see what power I am pushing out when I am out on the road as well as indoors on the turbo trainer.
This has been a bit of a game changer for me and now when I am struggling against those invisible headwinds, instead of watching my speed dwindle and the swear jar earnings go up, I can watch my power output going up and know that its not always about speed.
It doesn’t end there with these pedals, as they also give you your left/right balance to show if you are pushing more one side than the other and also a cycling dynamics output to show where in the pedal stroke your power is being produced, enhancing your ability to work on your technique and actually see specifically where your need for improvements lie.
This has been a great aid to me through injuries, rehabilitation and even when I am just bloody knackered on the bike to ensure that my pedal stroke is even and consistent.
Although I am a bit of a geek when it comes to technology, I try to just enjoy riding my bike, focus on the numbers I need to during the session and not to get too involved with the fine detail of every statistic post session (that’s what my coach is for!) but it really does help to give you a good indication with real stats of how a session really went, not to mention to plan future workouts and give a good indication of where you are in you training. There are many power based tests you can do- whether it be for short explosive power over a short distance or consistent level of power over longer distances for example, so depending on your training and what you are training for you are able to set the benchmark and then set your power zones and then train according to those. Wattbike are the king of indoor power trainers (you may even be lucky to have one in your local gym) and they are a good source of information for all things power related – see some of their tests here.
There’s no hiding from your power output, there’s just no excuses and so if you are ready for the hard truth in the cold light of day of how hard you are really working I’d say its well worth the investment.
Power never lies and so instead of relying on good old heart rate zones, which can vary by a considerable amount with so many different factors, to dictate your training sessions try using power zones instead which are much more reliable way to measure your training efforts. Combine the two and you have covered all basis and are well on your way to controlling your pace, being consistent and avoiding blowing up half way around!
Although in the beginning when I first got my pedals the mass amounts of information seemed overwhelming I love my Garmin pedals now and I’d feel naked (ooo la la) training without them these days.
Happy cycling y’all and remember when your chugging up that hill or cursing into that headwind and watching your speed drop- there’s no need to be disheartened there’s always other values to consider so just relax and give it your best!
Over n out!