Tri Coach Tuesday: Training with Power

By Tim Cusick, TrainingPeaks

 

For cyclists and triathletes, training with power is likely the most effective way to maximize results. Why? Power meters and the data they provide remove a lot of the guesswork from training by supplying precise, accurate information for accurate measurement of training intensity and load, unlike heart rate training or rate of perceived exertion (RPE) training.

Even when athletes recognize that power training offers significant benefits, many of them are apprehensive about jumping into the power-training game because they’ve heard it’s complex and they aren’t sure they have the knowledge or technical skills to get the most out of it.

I’d like to make it easier. Here are a few simple steps to get started with power training and how to better understand the entire power training process.

 

Step 1: Ride with power

The first thing your should do after you buy a new power meter is set up your head unit with some key metrics to track. I suggest setting power, heart rate, and speed to display on the screen.

And then just ride, observe and record. That’s all you should do for two to four weeks. Don’t change anything about your riding or training yet. Simply observe and begin to quantify your efforts.

Be sure to record all your workouts, no matter how small. It’s pretty simple to automate the recording and uploading process, and these records will become your data diary and will be highly useful in the future.

This first step gives you time to get a feeling for the relationship between power and effort, along with a basic understanding of the quantification of training. If you went up a short hill, did it feel hard? Your power meter now gives a number for “hard.” Hard for you might be 450 watts or 600 watts. Soft pedal down the other side of the hill and watch how many watts that generates.

 

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