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Old 06-20-16, 09:25 PM   #1
spectastic
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training without power meter and using only heart rate and perceived effort?

i'm trying to determine the situations where i find a power meter useful for my training, and so far, I've got
  1. 30"-5' intervals, where immediate feedback is useful
  2. fitness evaluation for training and races
  3. keeping myself in a certain zone for endurance, tempo, and threshold, which I can kind of do already with my heart rate

So I think the biggest one here is the first one, maintaining the same power through a set of shorter intervals, which can be hard, because PE increases with fatigue. Other than that, I don't see any other training scenarios that can't be replicated with an heart rate monitor. For races, I only really pay attention to the average lap power, to help me gauge how many matches I have left in me.

I'm not sure this is enough reason to justify owning a power meter. But many people have said that a power meter is the best investment you can make to get faster. So what am I missing?


PS. obviously, one's training methods factor into this a lot. I would consider my current training methodology to be categorized into endurance/tempo rides (longer ones), threshold rides (shorter ones, when I don't have time to do longer rides), and interval rides (shorter rides, 1-2 times/week). In other words, I go out the door with some idea of the type of ride I'm doing, but I don't plan it down to the tee like some do, and I don't put my food on a scale to measure my calories. who knows, that may change if I decide to shoot for cat 2 or beyond. anyway, in what ways is your training benefited from a power meter. Is your list similar to mine? or do you get more use out of them?

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Old 06-20-16, 09:31 PM   #2
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i'm trying to determine the situations where i find a power meter useful for my training, and so far, I've got
  1. 30"-5' intervals, where immediate feedback is useful
  2. fitness evaluation for training and races
  3. keeping myself in a certain zone for endurance, tempo, and threshold, which I can kind of do already with my heart rate

So I think the biggest one here is the first one, maintaining the same power through a set of shorter intervals, which can be hard, because PE increases with fatigue. Other than that, I don't see any other training scenarios that can't be replicated with an heart rate monitor. For races, I only really pay attention to the average lap power, to help me gauge how many matches I have left in me.

I'm not sure this is enough reason to justify owning a power meter. But many people have said that a power meter is the best investment you can make to get faster. So what am I missing?
for me the most valuable aspects are:
a) objective assessment of training load (eg long term gradual ramp up, prevention of over training, etc)
b) measurement of progress over months and years, ie 1' power...how does it compare to a month ago, or a year ago at same time
c) post-mortem of races: where was I at my limit; where was the critical moment in the race, and what do I need to work on to be more prepared for those critical moments. Also, how good was I at sheltering up to the critical moment(s)?
d) specification of workouts by coach, and knowing that I am doing what he asked
e) confidence, eg the normalized power for a crit was x, and I know that I do x in workouts for the same duration routinely, so just relax, everything will be fine..
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Old 06-20-16, 09:48 PM   #3
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i'm trying to determine the situations where i find a power meter useful for my training, and so far, I've got
  1. 30"-5' intervals, where immediate feedback is useful
  2. fitness evaluation for training and races
  3. keeping myself in a certain zone for endurance, tempo, and threshold, which I can kind of do already with my heart rate

So I think the biggest one here is the first one, maintaining the same power through a set of shorter intervals, which can be hard, because PE increases with fatigue. Other than that, I don't see any other training scenarios that can't be replicated with an heart rate monitor. For races, I only really pay attention to the average lap power, to help me gauge how many matches I have left in me.

I'm not sure this is enough reason to justify owning a power meter. But many people have said that a power meter is the best investment you can make to get faster. So what am I missing?
As someone who trained via HR and PE for 8.5 years before going power the past ~1.5...intervals with a power meter are entirely different than intervals via heart rate and PE. Heart rate and PE lie to you. Power is power. It's the difference between going to the junk yard and lifting monster truck tires, and going to a gym and knowing the exact weight you're lifting. It's much easier to keep training logs with power because of this, and track progress. Your mystical training hill doesn't need a star next to the times you set on extra windy days. If you've done the gym stuff for long enough you can do the monster truck tire thing pretty well, but without the gym experience it's hard to know you're doing it right. If you can afford a power meter I would not hesitate to buy one.
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Old 06-20-16, 10:14 PM   #4
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As someone who trained via HR and PE for 8.5 years before going power the past ~1.5...intervals with a power meter are entirely different than intervals via heart rate and PE. Heart rate and PE lie to you. Power is power. It's the difference between going to the junk yard and lifting monster truck tires, and going to a gym and knowing the exact weight you're lifting. It's much easier to keep training logs with power because of this, and track progress. Your mystical training hill doesn't need a star next to the times you set on extra windy days. If you've done the gym stuff for long enough you can do the monster truck tire thing pretty well, but without the gym experience it's hard to know you're doing it right. If you can afford a power meter I would not hesitate to buy one.
+1

I don't use my PM much in training but I did one set of intervals (3+3 weeks, 2 days per week) at the beginning of 2015 (first actual intervals that I did for 30-odd years). I had some great results that year. FTP measured 218w realistically at my best, which was just after the intervals in April or so.

Power numbers are very telling with races. I'll finish a race and eagerly go download my massive sprint numbers. Then I see that my expected 1400w jump was actually 1100w. Or that I jumped at 1200w but sustained 1100w for another 18s, which is super significant for me. Etc etc etc.

I also look at how many times I hit, say, 800w. Or 600w. In a race it's pretty telling - I may think "oh, man, I was suffering" then I see I broke 800w 10 times or something ridiculous (for me that's a big effort for sitting on a wheel).
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Old 06-21-16, 12:04 AM   #5
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Agreed. PM is what's really hitting the rear wheel. I've had awful PE days where I was killing it and awful PE days where I was, in fact, awful. HR has a lot of variability due to internal and external factors even when all other things are equal. And it tells you where you were, not where you are. HR might have a 20% disconnect to actual power.

Integrating all three is the path to success.
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Old 06-21-16, 12:57 AM   #6
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for me the most valuable aspects are:
a) objective assessment of training load (eg long term gradual ramp up, prevention of over training, etc)
b) measurement of progress over months and years, ie 1' power...how does it compare to a month ago, or a year ago at same time
c) post-mortem of races: where was I at my limit; where was the critical moment in the race, and what do I need to work on to be more prepared for those critical moments. Also, how good was I at sheltering up to the critical moment(s)?
d) specification of workouts by coach, and knowing that I am doing what he asked
e) confidence, eg the normalized power for a crit was x, and I know that I do x in workouts for the same duration routinely, so just relax, everything will be fine..
that.

except for d) & e), for me.
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Old 06-21-16, 05:40 AM   #7
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I like a power meter for the indoor trainer and that's about it.

When I'm in a group ride my power doesn't matter, I'm at the group's pace, which means I'm always pushing or always hitting my brakes.

I think a power meter would be great for a long sustained climb.

Other than that, I think RPE is the best...and it correlates *somewhat* with heart rate, but not entirely. It was 92 degrees out yesterday ("Real Feel 99") and my heart rate was at least 10 beats higher than what I would expect.

Heart rate is good for recovery rides to make sure you're not pushing into the higher zones though, but again you can do that with RPE as well.
Heart rate is nice for a suffer score imo, but as a training tool, it just seems pretty variable.
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Old 06-21-16, 06:09 AM   #8
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Heart rate and PE lie to you. Power is power.
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HR has a lot of variability due to internal and external factors even when all other things are equal.
Here is an illustration of that. The scheduled workout was a three-hour steady endurance pace ride. By coincidence, average power for each hour was within a few watts of the others. HR was a LOT more variable, due to the increasing heat (this was last Sunday, and we share the same weather) and the fact that I only had three bottles with me and could've used a fourth. The last hour felt noticeably harder too.
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Old 06-21-16, 06:11 AM   #9
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Old 06-21-16, 08:53 AM   #10
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i see. thanks for the feedback. my situation is that I'm contemplating whether my stages is worth keeping. I was thinking about selling it and just going pm-free, or get a pioneer. you guys convinced me that i will feel naked without a pm, so I'll keep using power
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Old 06-21-16, 09:30 AM   #11
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We went back and forth for pages on these ideas in the PM thread (about 1 year ago), but there is an assumption with the OP #1 that that is what you want to do. If you want to train to the same power each time a PM is the best way to do it.

A gym analogy I use is selecting the weight and reps you will do in a period of time, or selecting a familiar weight and then lifting to fatigue. I know both are done. Saying a PM is required is like saying you need to know the mass of the weights and reps you will do in a 1 min time frame to get max strength gain. I'm not convinced that is the best way to get race fit, although if training alone it is a great tool. I'm finding more that do not try to train to the same or a set resistance each time and train more to how they feel/relative fatigue.

A PM only measures power to where it is measured. It does not measure efficiency / total effort. Two riders of the same weight, and power can go very different speeds. A PM can be a good tool to try to go faster with the same power. I'm very fast for my oversize and low power. That means I'm efficient, it does not mean I could beat anyone. When training/traveling and the environment changes a lot - weather/altitude power should change too and unless there is lots of experience with that environment it is hard to select a number to train to.

At the LBS, owner and dad of a pro racer, blames PMs for making pro racing so boring (that and no PEDs). Says that the racers are looking at PMs and determining what they can and cannot do vs the old days of going for it and making it - or not. It made the racing more fun to watch.
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Old 06-21-16, 10:41 AM   #12
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i see. thanks for the feedback. my situation is that I'm contemplating whether my stages is worth keeping. I was thinking about selling it and just going pm-free, or get a pioneer. you guys convinced me that i will feel naked without a pm, so I'll keep using power
My PM broke a few years ago when I was a 3, and I ended up racing without any data - no garmin, no speed, no hr, nothing.

It was nice, for a while.

But even nicer to go back to data-overload mode!
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Old 06-21-16, 10:51 AM   #13
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Doge got the right idea . PM makes everyone function like a robot on a bike these days . I stop watching the grand tour when they introduced radio and PM .
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Old 06-21-16, 10:55 AM   #14
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A PM only measures power to where it is measured.
Actually I'm in on a kickstarter for a new model that measures power to where it isn't measured.

uh, wut?
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Old 06-21-16, 04:48 PM   #15
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Doge got the right idea . PM makes everyone function like a robot on a bike these days . I stop watching the grand tour when they introduced radio and PM .
Historical context:

People used to complain the Anquetil was boring. Go Goggle "dramatic Indurain finishes" and see what you come up with.

There's still plenty of balls to the wall racing efforts out there. Contador, Sagan, Cancellera, Boonen, Landis (come on, given the top 20 were all on EPO was there a better ride in a recent tour? And he HAD a power meter on the bike).

There were plenty of boring "old timey" races and Grand Tours before radios BTW. We just forget about them because THEY WERE BORING.

3 of the closest TDF finishes in history came during the PM era. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Fausto Coppi won by 28 minutes in 1952. Give me some more of that!

Right?

If you want to pick a bone pick it with modern tactics and drugs where teams sit on the front riding 31 MPH for 3 weeks. Even with that the racing isn't always robotic, no matter how hard Sky tries to make it as such.

Saying powermeters make racing boring is like saying TV causes Ebola.

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Old 06-21-16, 05:45 PM   #16
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Actually I'm in on a kickstarter for a new model that measures power to where it isn't measured.

uh, wut?
I can see that is not so well written.
"A PM only measures power to where it is measured. It does not measure efficiency / total effort. "

A PM in the pedals you are measuring the power/push on the pedals. If the rider is pushing in against and flexing cranks they can get credit for power that is basically being lost to heat and flex. A PM in the hub is measuring closer to what the tire to ground experiences. But there is energy being spent that is not going into power, or that the power meter is measuring.
The PM just measures power at the meter, not necessarily that making the rider go forward. There are no end of skate boarders around here propelling themselves with both feet on the board in a way a PM would likely say they are doing 0 Watts. Cyclist do that too. The PM does not measure it.
Ideally we'd have VO2 (real, not calculated)/power on the bike to get some efficiency number.
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Old 06-21-16, 05:46 PM   #17
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Historical context:


Saying powermeters make racing boring is like saying TV causes Ebola.
That's why I got rid of my TV.
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Old 06-21-16, 09:45 PM   #18
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so should I abandon my pm and use that money to buy a stash of EPO from mexico?

but I do understand the argument of having less data to look at might be a little better for morale, and make training a little more fun, which is important for people who already have a job.
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Old 06-22-16, 05:55 AM   #19
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This year's Paris-Roubaix was very entertaining. Attack after attack towards the end, no 'robotic' riding for sure. Same can be said for Strade Bianche and others. Even the Giro was quite good.
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Old 06-22-16, 05:57 AM   #20
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but I do understand the argument of having less data to look at might be a little better for morale, and make training a little more fun, which is important for people who already have a job.
I'd make the exact opposite argument
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Old 06-22-16, 06:09 AM   #21
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I'd make the exact opposite argument
This.

Having a PM allows me to tailor my training to maximize my time. Given work and life demands, I know how many hours a day I can put in on the bike, and the PM lets me get the most out of those hours.

For example, Hunter Allen has been writing a lot lately about the idea of base riding in the fall and winter is a waste of time and effort by most amateur racers. His argument is that people with jobs and a life outside of cycling do not have enough hours in the week to truly spend enough time on the bike to build a base. Therefore, he has proposed doing a lot more sweet spot intervals to get a similar effect in a shorter time period.
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Old 06-22-16, 07:32 AM   #22
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This year's Paris-Roubaix was very entertaining. Attack after attack towards the end, no 'robotic' riding for sure. Same can be said for Strade Bianche and others. Even the Giro was quite good.
My quote was what a LBS pro dad said. I think there may be merit.
But if racing is far from Robotic that should be a consideration on training.

I'm not a trainer, I don't know if for running a mile (steady pace) it is best to do steady pace training or intervals.

Or for soccer, rugby, cycling (except TT) what it is better to do.

It seems to me TT and RR/Crit training should be different.
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Old 06-22-16, 07:47 AM   #23
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This is silly. If you want to get stronger it is much easier when you know what your markers are. Doing structured intervals some days and unstructured work other days are not mutually exclusive things. Having power even helps keep track of how you respond to the unstructured work. You don't even have to look at the thing when you're racing! It doesn't mean having the data isn't valuable for targeting your weaknesses.
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Old 06-22-16, 07:51 AM   #24
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I can see that is not so well written.
"A PM only measures power to where it is measured. It does not measure efficiency / total effort. "

A PM in the pedals you are measuring the power/push on the pedals. If the rider is pushing in against and flexing cranks they can get credit for power that is basically being lost to heat and flex. A PM in the hub is measuring closer to what the tire to ground experiences. But there is energy being spent that is not going into power, or that the power meter is measuring.
The PM just measures power at the meter, not necessarily that making the rider go forward. There are no end of skate boarders around here propelling themselves with both feet on the board in a way a PM would likely say they are doing 0 Watts. Cyclist do that too. The PM does not measure it.
Ideally we'd have VO2 (real, not calculated)/power on the bike to get some efficiency number.
I think the incorrect assumption is that people who ride with power meters do not understand this. Of course we do. In a race, the result relative to your competitors is what's important. You can understand that and still know what your numbers are during a race- power, heart rate, cadence, etc. Can you focus on the wrong things during a race? Sure you can, with or without a power meter. That's part of learning how to race effectively, right, knowing what's important?

Increasing your power is the hardest way to get faster, you have to train really hard to do that. Riding more efficiently is for sure a skill that is supported by having a power meter, the meter really helps you to understand why results vary with what seems like the same effort.
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Old 06-22-16, 08:37 AM   #25
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I'd basically ignore anything Doge thinks on this subject. He's talking about a kid who a) is a kid, and as such will respond to most any sort of training and b) is presumably a talented kid, who is apt to respond to most anything. And, being a kid he has more time than the typical USAC racer (i.e. older). If you have time you can make up for many short falls in training simply in volume (ride lots). But once you get to having a life efficiency will often dictate your level of success in maintaining a balance in life and getting cycling results. I recently saw a post on FB by a guy who just had a baby and he was lamenting his inability to maintain 10 hour weeks. For god's sakes, 10 hours? You don't need 10 hours a week for the kind of racing this guy is doing. 8 hours, hit the numbers, walk the baby around while your wife curses your existence. Why that translates into boring racing is beyond me...if you're good enough to control a race to the extent you can make it boring maybe it's time to quit your day job and go pro?
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