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  1. #1
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    Why Monitor Anything?

    Let's see, first we had those odometers with the spiked wheel that clicked your miles away. Then with electronics we had speedometers that were small enough for a bike. Add rpm, average speed, fastest speed, total and trip miles and time; then add heart rate monitoring. Now add power generator/output monitors.
    My question, is all this monitoring really giving a rider the feedback he needs, or is there something that isn't being monitored (or can't be) that is more vital, or more useful?
    With all the research into the brain/body connection, should a rider go more by 'feeling' than what some numbers are showing him? Are these instruments really advancing a rider's training, or putting them more out-of-touch? Can they take the place of experience?
    You say the hill's too steep to climb...you say you'd like to see me try...-Pink Floyd

  2. #2
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    Experience and feeling are important. For instance, sometimes I'll head out for a ride intending to do a series of hard intervals. But, if I feel sluggish or like I'm overdoing it, I'll back off and do an easier ride instead. Likewise, sometimes I'll plan on doing an easy ride, but feel like Superman and just put the hammer down.

    Pro riders use wattage, heart rate, etc. to plan their training, and analyze their performance. This is no different than other sports - you wouldn't expect a baseball manager to select his batting lineup based only on how he "feels" about the players. But, there are times when the numbers can be a distraction and pro riders often don't race with digital feedback. In the last long time trial of this year's Tour de France, Lance Armstrong rode without a computer because he was feeling strong and didn't want to be distracted by it. Of course, he rides so much, at such a high level, that his "feelings" are probably a lot more refined than most of us.

    That said, I think the numbers are important too and, for me, they're fun to track (plus, I have a "professional" interest as you can see from my sig ). I like knowing that so far this year I've ridden nearly 4,000 miles, that I've averaged over 16 mph for the year, that I've climbed nearly 175,000 vertical feet, and that I've burned over 153,000 calories on my bikes. Not everyone needs or wants to know these things, but there's no harm in it, as far as I can see.
    CycliStats.com - Software for Cyclists
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  3. #3
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    A lot of the time, the only way you can see if your performance improved is by using a machine to monitor what you're doing.

    Of course, if you're just messing around, there's no point to it. Just ride and forgeddaboudit.

    Koffee

  4. #4
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    If I remember correctlly Pantani relied on feeling alone with out the gadgets. I think that for a lot of people it is simply fun to keep stats. I use an HRM mostly on recovery days where I can see if I am going too hard. On hard days I don't really need it because during Intervals I just go till I drop regardless of stats. For fun I like to see my max speed and current speed.

  5. #5
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    I love Pantani, but at the same time... I wouldn't rely on the training habits of a doper.

    Koffee

  6. #6
    Upgrading my engine DXchulo's Avatar
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    Here's my two cents:

    Speedometers are just plain fun. I got a cheap Wal-Mart (gasp!) one just to see how fast I'm going. I love to try to break records down hills. It's just another way to keep things interesting.

    Heart rate monitors are great for (a) base training and (b) warning you about overtraining. Gut feelings are important, but how can you tell if you're going at 70% or 80% without a HRM? You can, but it's harder. As you may know, you can have trouble getting your heart rate up when you're overtrained. Again, a gut feeling that you are overtraining should be listened to, but I've always been the type to feel that and think, "stop being a wimp! Go out and train hard today." My HRM was under $20, and it works just fine.

    Power monitors are really expensive. I'm in college. I can't afford one.

    Now....I think the number one thing is that none of these toys are perfect in and of themselves, and above all you should always listen to your body if it is trying to tell you something. Then again, they can tell you useful information that your body just can't tell you. They motivate me to push myself harder. I want to break speeds, get my resting heart rate down, and so on.

    So all in all I think the best approach is to use all the information you can, and never buy expensive toys when the cheaper versions will do.

  7. #7
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    Speedometers are extreemly usefull, they are definatley not for cheap fun, and they are a must for training. Heart rate monitors and that i dont know about, but meausuring speed, distance, time, length of trip and average speeds are extreemly usefull:
    -For Training
    - For Fun ( lets beat my top speed!)
    - On those long rides where the 'trip distance' can come in handy when working out how far to go, how far is left.
    - So you dont go over the speed limit. lol
    - Great to keep a tally of how far you've ridden.

    Many reasons and yes they're worth it

  8. #8
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    I mainly use my HR monitor for recovery rides. On hard rides I find it distracting. Its hard enough forcing yourself to suffer. Seeing my HR going nuts is just another thing my mind wants to use as an excuse to back off. This year was more getting back into shape and putting in time in the saddle. Next year on hard days I may wear the monitor, but keep the display in my back pocket then review after the ride.
    Its all downhill from somewhere.

  9. #9
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    I just started using one, and it helped me a lot, it told me I was going to hard. I'm glad that I have it, otherwise, I might've screwed up my base training, which i wouldn't have noticed until it was too late 4-5 months afterwords.

  10. #10
    H23
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    Cyclometers are very useful if you are using a cue sheet-- you can check if you missed a turn by looking at distance travelled.

  11. #11
    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phatman
    I just started using one, and it helped me a lot, it told me I was going to hard. I'm glad that I have it, otherwise, I might've screwed up my base training, which i wouldn't have noticed until it was too late 4-5 months afterwords.
    I sort of find it hard to believe that your heartrate going too high would screw up your base training. And yet I keep hearing people talk like this. Could someone link me to something that explains where you guys get these ideas from? I find them confusing.

  12. #12
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    Read Tudor O. Bompa's book "Periodization". Actually, read any of his books.

    Koffee

  13. #13
    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    I'm familiar with periodization in boxing... but isn't that only for very serious competition so that your conditioning peaks for a brief period during which occurs the competition? As in, you won't benefit unless you are already in very good shape?

  14. #14
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    No.

    Periodization is now recommended for any type of training you do, whether for professional or recreational purposes. The idea behind periodization is always to schedule your training so you can see results.

    USA Cycling not only sanctions periodization, they recommend all coaches to use Bompa's training, advocate it, and if you can, go to see Bompa lecturing so you can gain a deeper understanding of periodization training.

    See also Chris Carmichael's books- he totally has down periodization training to a T. (for lack of a better analogy)

    Koffee

  15. #15
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    See also books by Sally Edwards. She also has a very deep knowledge of periodization training, and advocates it for anyone who wants to look at their exercise as a lifestyle incorporation. If you need some additional information, I would recommend you drop her an email- she always answers and is willing to sit down and go into further detail. If you go to the www.heartzones.com website, you'll find her email address.

    Koffee

  16. #16
    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    Hmmmm... I shall have to do some reading.

  17. #17
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    Tudor O. Bompa is known as the grandfather of periodization training. He trained the East Germans back when they were formidable in the Olympics. Later, he moved to Canada, where he revolutionized the fitness industry with his concepts in periodization training. It was slow to pick up, but now, in the last 15- 20 years, it's become an accepted means of training, and for a lot of coaches, it's considered the most superior way of training your clients to excel at whatever they're doing, whether it's for recreational or professional. The great thing about periodization training is that it can be adapted or modified for whatever you're doing. You can use it to track your training and tweak it so that as your body adapts (and adjusts) to your training, you can "shock" the body with your periodization training and continue to progress.

    The USA Cycling endorses Bompa, and they also recommend a pretty basic schedule to follow. They also give seminars for their coaches on periodization. And if you read the books they recommend by Bompa, you'll find a four year periodization plan at the back of his books you can use for your clients.

    He is also big on the weights too- he has a book dedicated to periodization and weight training, I believe.

    All the major players endorse periodization training- from Carmichael to Friel to Burke, they're all using this premise for training.

    Koffee

  18. #18
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,
    You can go by feel. I have been doing that this year.
    One winter I followed a periodisaton chart faithfully, it was like magic. It was also one of the most boring things I have ever done.
    You ought to try it sometime.

  19. #19
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    From late: Hi Steve,
    You can go by feel. I have been doing that this year.

    Wouldn't keeping track of mileage, speed, wattage be like someone trying to lose weight writing their weight down each morning? I never weigh myself, but may go by how I look in the mirror or photos...I may keep track of how much time I spend on the road, but otherwise ride each day by how I feel.

    What I am getting at is that through experience, one can listen to the body and know what is needed, from intensity to time. Even diet, what your body needs at the time, depends on what it tells you.
    And none of this is told through an instrument.

    Is it possible then for one to become dependent on them and never learn to 'hear' their body?
    You say the hill's too steep to climb...you say you'd like to see me try...-Pink Floyd

  20. #20
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    If you're using your hrm, power meter, etc. correctly, you would know that you would not be comparing overall results every single day. You plan your training, then use the stuff you've got to make sure you are following the plan. Over time, you view the results of your data, and after some time has passed (like say... every 6 weeks) you tweak your training based on the results you got- for instance, if you started training tomorrow with all your stuff, then you would go through that data in 6 weeks and check to see that you are making the progress you're supposed to be making. If you're not, you'd go back and change up your training so that you can hammer out the weaknesses. If you see you're progressing, then you can also progress your training and move to the next phase of your periodization training.

    This is why every person needs either a coach (if they're serious and want to take the investment in their training) or at least a trainer who can take them through a training program that can come back every 6- 8 weeks and digest all the information and analize and recommend how your training is to proceed. If you don't know how to properly use your technology, you will never be able to reach your full potential.

    Koffee

  21. #21
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    Remember the 'cycle theory' back when? You had physical, mental, and emotional cycles you kept track of, and whenever they converged you would have an ultimate peak performance day. Otherwise you would have individual peak days. I don't know what happened to it.
    Again, my question is how much bio-feedback is necessary and is it the right kind that we are obtaining to reach our full potential? Is the technology necessary for us to do our best?
    Or can one learn from oneself how to reach that state?
    You say the hill's too steep to climb...you say you'd like to see me try...-Pink Floyd

  22. #22
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    This is more than a theory- it's a practice that's tried, tested, and works. Ask any professional athlete. Ask anyone who's used this to monitor their progress- it need not be a professional. Just anyone who's done it. It works.

    You can go by feel, but feel is subjective and does very little to confirm how much progress you made. So if you want to just go by feel, do it. But if you want that edge, you'll go for the technology. My interpretation of technology is that there will never be enough of it to help you out, and the more you use, the better advantage you'll have over the novice who chooses to use less or go by "feel" when training.

    Can you learn how to get to the state of someone like... say... Lance? No. Lance got so far on his own, but recognized quickly that technology was necessary to track progress. I think it was New Leaf who first began using their technology with Lance to track his training progress at age 19. Now, he's a technology junkie (see the Lance Chronicles for further elaboration), and he's better for it, and definitely, he has a better handle on his training and progression (I only use him as an example since everyone knows him).

    If you're serious about training, you know what you need to do.

    Koffee

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    This is more than a theory- it's a practice that's tried, tested, and works. Ask any professional athlete. Ask anyone who's used this to monitor their progress- it need not be a professional. Just anyone who's done it. It works.


    If you're serious about training, you know what you need to do.

    Koffee

    Theory is supported by known facts. It is a principle that we can accept because it is generally agreed to be true. Therefore all the things of which we have spoken can be theories. You can put them into practice, and get others to follow, but they aren't law (ref. the law of gravity). Theory can change, and will, with new facts, new interpretations, and advancing knowledge. That's good.
    In the meantime, we all accept what we want to, and are free to reject what we don't want.
    Science has found a profound connection between the body and mind; the 'soul', or mind, and our physical bodies. It is through this connection that I feel we will find our own capabilities.
    And it will be available to all.
    You say the hill's too steep to climb...you say you'd like to see me try...-Pink Floyd

  24. #24
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    Very true. Every theory will have its own set of answers, and even then, there will always be challenges to the answers.

    Putting aside all the gobbledygook, you've got numbers you can go by if you use technology, or you can go by feel, which is definitely less quantifiable, less reliable, and less sensitive to tracking changes. Pick whichever one works for you, but know which one will give you a better idea of how your training will go.

    Koffee

  25. #25
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    I can forsee my fixed and SS friends making serious fun of me if I start agreeing with you and wearing a HRM

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