Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seeing the value in using a power meter

Beth, take note!

Nick - beware. The geekiness of all this might make you lust for one of these things...


As mentioned before during last thursday's hill repeats, I finally saw one of the real values of using a power meter. Now, in no way am I suggesting the purchase of a four-figure gadget as a necessary training tool, but I am glad that I can finally find some value in it, rather than just my coach saying "Send me the data".

Right at the start of my first interval, I could feel the previous nights workout in my legs, and I knew right then it was going to be a tough workout (more so than usual) because of residual fatigue. The first three intervals were especially tough, but I felt better (although, I'm not sure I'd say "good") as the workout progressed. Without a PM, I would have chalked up my workout as one where I kinda wasn't feeling it, but pushed through just to finish the damn thing (to get me to the beer at the end!)

Below is the data over the past 5 hill repeat workouts. Note the following:

* The first 2 days were done in San Elijo, but there are too many lights on that hill, so I switched to Torrey Pines
* All Torrey repeats are done in the big ring
* The first 4 times I did this workout, I didn't do a hard bike workout the day before
* All are done seated, standing, or aero, and are mixed up throughout the workout for (mental and physical) variety
* Screenshot images of excel tables are freakin' sexy, and you know it

The data is showing:

* There is no discernable drop in power output, even though my legs were more fatigued than past workouts (this obviously is good for me since I will never have fresh legs during RAAM after day 1. Nick B - thanks for the comment in the last post - I had the same thoughts!).
* The work done (power output), wasn't at a higher cost (HR)
* Even though the times were a little bit longer during last weeks' interval versus prior ones, this doesn't necessarily mean that speed took a hit. I start my interval when my HR hits a specific point, rather than at a certain point on the hill (ie. the stop sign at the bottom). Because all I have a .5 mile downhill and flat to get my HR up from about 130bpm (recovery) to 165bpm, it takes a lot of hurt to get it, uh, up. However, I do always stop the interval at the same spot on the hill. Ideally, I would have the same start HR at the same start point for every interval, but I'll deal with the nuances that real life throws me!

Basically, all this means is that the data is objectively showing me that the workout went better than how I would thought it went had I evaluated it subjectively.

I realize that if I didn't have a PM, that I could probably check distance, HR and speed data, but that's just way too much work...


beth said...

note taken.

but i think i need to read at least three more times to get it. :)

Paul said...

Unless you were doing repeats in the big ring on the inside track at Torrey pines. I'm not impressed. :P

Nick Brown said...

I've been lusting over power meters for quite some time now. Uncle Sam give me a tiny bonus, and my quarq is in the mail. Stand by for more excel tables, line graphs and wholesome geekiness.

How many Nick B's are out there?