Training and racing with a power meter has revolutionized an athlete’s ability to accurately and objectively track performance on the bike. A power meter offers athletes a reliable, consistent and accurate measurement of what they are actually doing in their training. It’s an ideal way to analyze your performance on the bike and gets away from the highly flawed, yet still regularly used, performance parameter of average speed.
Here are a few of the ways that power can help make you a better triathlete:
Quantitative and objective feedback of performance
Power provides an accurate and repeatable measure of performance for all your rides, so you get a true and objective picture of how your numbers are progressing. Using average speed as a marker is a very poor measure of performance. Factors such as traffic lights, flat or hilly roads, wind, air temperature, whether you’re on a road or tri bike, in or out of your aero bars, riding by yourself or in a group can all greatly affect average speed, which can make that parameter almost useless.
Trying to compare yourself to your training partners is an even worse way to gauge your fitness since you never know how fit they are or how hard they are working. This often leads to “racing in training” as you try to drop your training partners to prove how fit you are.
Power helps to make sure you are executing your workouts correctly. Are you going too hard on your recovery days or too easy on your hard days? Are you warming up properly? Are you fading in your long rides or pacing well and maintaining power? Are you holding a consistent power output for all your intervals? Do you hammer every hill and coast down the other side? A power meter will give you an objective way to identify what you are really doing, as opposed to what you think you are doing. One of the biggest mistakes athletes make in their training is to work in the same, very narrow, band of intensity all the time. They go too hard on their easy days and then are too tired to really work hard on their hard days. A power meter will tell you if you fit into this category.
Nigel Gray is the Head Coach of NRG Performance Training and has been coaching for the last 15 years and working with power for the last 10. Please visit www.nrgpt.com for more information