Training With a Power Meter, The Next Step

After conducting a basic performance test the next step in cycling with a power meter is to determine where you want to go. What are you goals and objectives as a cyclist? Are you hoping to excel in a local group ride, criterium, time trial, flat road race, hilly road race, or double century? Determining exactly where you want to go is the first step in constructing an actionable plan that puts you on the right track for success. If you’re wanting to improve while maximizing the amount of training time you have, you need to have some clear objectives.

The Real Work

Once you’ve got some clear targets identified, the real work of constructing a training plan begins. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer you’ll likely spend some quality time researching different training methodologies online. If designing and creating your own training plan seems daunting, hiring a coach to do the heavy lifting might be a good option for you. Whatever choice you make, to self-coach or hire a professional, the process of constructing a training plan is likely to follow these basic steps.

Basic Steps

  1. Carve out exactly how much time you have to train during the week
  2. Identify the specific demands of your target event and develop a progressive plan to replicate those demands in training
  3. Focus on improving your aerobic fitness and your ability to produce power at your lactate threshold
  4. Establish benchmark criteria to assess progress

Skinning The Cat

How exactly you go about addressing the above steps is really what defines different training strategies and coaching methodologies. There are hundreds of opinions about how to get stronger and faster. Between online forums, teammates, training books, and coaches there exists a lot of training noise that can be distracting if you’re trying to go it alone. Thankfully your power meter can help you keep things really simple.

If you’re self coached or working with a professional cycling coach, a power meter will give you an objective look at whether or not your training is effectively preparing you for success in your target event. Be consistent, stick to your plan, and continue to measure your progress by coming back to your testing protocol every 4-6 weeks. Your power meter helps to keep things simple; you’re either getting stronger or you’re not.

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Nate Dunn, M.S.
Data Driven Athlete
@ddacoaching

So You Bought a Power Meter, Now What?

So you did the research, you purchased a power meter that best meets your needs, and now you’re juiced to finally be riding with power…Now what?

Understanding The Mechanics

Your first step should be making sure you understand how your power meter and head unit work. Make sure you thoroughly understand the process of properly recording and downloading your rides. Here is a common routine for the Quarq Cinqo and Garmin 500 combo I use

  1. Power up the Garmin
  2. Spin the cranks
  3. Pedal backwards periodically during the ride, especially if large temperature swings have occurred
  4. Stop and reset the Garmin at the finish of the ride
  5. Download your ride into Training Peaks and delete the file off the Garmin

These are mechanical steps that might seem unimportant but they will minimize your chances of loosing a power file after a ride.

The Fun Part

You’ve cemented the routine of recording and downloading your data, you’re enjoying the process of seeing instant feedback every time you press on the pedals…now the real work begins…

The next step you want to undertake is to do some sort of performance test. Different cycling coaches might prescribe tests anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes in length, but the goals of a performance test are usually pretty strait forward

  1. Establish a baseline of current fitness
  2. Provide an approximation of power at lactate threshold to establish individualized training zones
  3. Execute a max effort that can be repeated over time to quantify progress

Understanding Your Data

So you’ve got the mechanics of the power meter/data download figured out, and you’ve done a basic performance test to establish a baseline of fitness and create some specific training zone intensities…what’s next? In the next post I’ll discuss some basic guidelines for establishing a training program using your power meter and the data you generate as a guide.

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Nate Dunn, M.S.
Data Driven Athlete
@ddacoaching

Data Overlay and Cycling Race Footage

The first time I saw a cycling video with data overlay I knew I had to get to work producing my own. No other type of cycling coverage could come close. The ability to see power, speed, HR, and course location in a live race situation was amazing. Some of the early pioneers of the dark art of telemetry were Steve Weixel and Tom Dillon, the later who even wrote his own telemetry software. Not only did live data make cycling footage exponentially more exciting and engaging to watch, it provided a new learning opportunity with each race.

Cycling Footage In Context

How did your effort hanging on the outside of the pack compare with your effort riding in the middle of the pack? Did you miss an opportunity to improve your position in the last lap of a crit, subsequently boxing yourself in for the final sprint? When you counter attacked did you play it too conservatively? Did you fail to hold your speed coming through each corner?

Having the ability to rewind a race and view footage with live data provides endless opportunities for improvement as a competitive cyclist. Your only limit is your willingness to be self critical or accept constructive criticism from others.

For entertainment or education, the integration of data and video footage opens up exciting new possibilities for the future of our sport. It’s a great time to be racing a bike!

Be the first to know about new blog posts while getting inside training tips delivered to your inbox.  No spam, ever, I promise.

To learn why my cycling coaching is different click here

For a complete archive of my blog posts click here

Nate Dunn, M.S.
Data Driven Athlete
@ddacoaching