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Training and Racing with Power Meters and other computers

Old 02-29-16, 06:01 PM
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carleton
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Training and Racing with Power Meters and other computers

Questions, thoughts, links, news, etc... about Training and Racing with Power Meters and other computers...and whatnot.

Last edited by carleton; 03-01-16 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 02-29-16, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Questions, thoughts, links, news, etc... about Training and Racing with Power Meters.
As a new convert, I definitely look forward to my first season training with a power meter. Already, after my Base Phase 1 training cycle, I am seeing significant improvements in my power ratings across all time intervals as well as lower heart rates while generating increased power. I understand the presence of the power meter isn't creating my improvements, but instead the power meter is allowing to focus my training to a specific training regime. Currently, I am reading everything I can on the subject and hope this thread will help further enlighten me. My investment in "power" thus far is a TACX trainer(not just a power meter expense), a left road crank arm, a dongle for my iPhone, and an annual subscription to TrainerRoad software.
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Old 02-29-16, 08:20 PM
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I'm in my first off-season training with power. What's really incredible about it is how it can tell you that yes, you can do this for longer. I was doing 2x20-min threshold efforts a few weeks ago, and in that 2nd one I started to feel pretty bad 5 minutes in. And if I didn't have the meter, if I wasn't looking at the numbers, I would have been tempted to say "I cannot keep this up." But I knew that I can - and I held it through to the end of the effort.

I'm looking forward to getting race data in the spring, too. That should be interesting.

In the past I basically trained by "feeling" my zones. But that's pretty inaccurate - finding sweet spot, threshold, and vo2max just by feel. I know that this winter I've done a lot more high-quality work than I had in the past and I am hoping to see it pay off big time in the spring.
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Old 02-29-16, 08:57 PM
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I used several pieces of software when I was anylyzing files:

- SRM PC software (the Mac software sucked at the time. Not sure if it's better now. I don't think so.)
- PowerAgent (made by PowerTap. I even used this to analyze SRM files.)
- Golden Cheetah

Golden Cheetah was my favorite.

BTW, you can import .SRM files into Golden Cheetah then export into other formats (.CSV if you want to import into PowerAgent).

One of my favorite custom charts was Torque vs Cadence. Basically, "How hard are you pushing at X RPM?" This was useful in determining what gears I was good at riding at high speeds. Even though I could spin 160+ rpm on the bike, my max effective cadence (where I was actually adding a useful amount of torque per pedal stroke) was around 140rpm. So, basically, any RPM over 140 was useless. I wasn't adding any acceleration (or any force to counter deceleration).

Conclusions:
- This lead me stop trying to use 150 RPM as a target cadence in flying 200M as used to be the conventional wisdom.
- I was vindicated when detailed photos of the London Olympic Flying 200M event would show 135-140-ish RPM on the racer's SRM head units during the fastest part of their flying 200s


Wisdom-gained:

Q: "What gear should I use for the Flying 200?"
A: "The biggest gear that you can get to 135-140rpm. If you get to +145rpm, it's too small. You are revving-out and not applying any torque."

Last edited by carleton; 02-29-16 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 02-29-16, 09:08 PM
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The analysis above also plays in to crank length selection.

Being that cranks are levers, generally speaking, the longer the better. But, too long is too long.

How long is too long?

Ride the longest cranks that will allow you to:
- Hit the cadence ranges that you need to hit (see above)
- Don't interfere with your aero position. Longer cranks require more clearance of the torso.


175mm cranks come into the chest area TWO centimeters higher than 165mm. Why 2cm instead of one? 1 of the 2 centimeters is easy to account for. At the top of the pedal stroke, the knee is 1 cm higher based on the longer crank arm. The other 1 cm comes from the fact that the bottom of the pedal stroke is also 1cm longer...further away. This means that you have to lower your saddle 1cm to keep your knee and ankle angles the same. When you lower the saddle 1cm, the knee at the top of the stroke is 1cm closer to your chest. 1+1 = 2.

This is also why switching to shorter cranks allows for a more aero position. Higher saddle and less knee into the torso area means that the rider can lay his/her back down lower. Whether lower is better is a matter of debate. But, that's one way to get lower.

EDIT:

Also, crank length affects muscle firing rates.

Given the same circumvential foot speed (speed at which your foot is moving in a circle), the longer cranks will have you pressing less often...giving you a few more milliseconds of "micro -rests". This is good. This means that you can press harder for longer.

Last edited by carleton; 02-29-16 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 02-29-16, 09:33 PM
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BTW, if you want train with computers, you don't need $3000. You can start with a $25 basic computer and a notepad or spreadsheet.

The key is to LOG SOME DATA SOME HOW

Steve Hill taught me this:

- If you are doing long, repeatable efforts in training (like rolling 1K, rolling 2K, etc...), set a target speed and work on holding that speed. For example, decide to hold 25mph for the entire 8 laps. Come off and rest. Then next time, try to hold 27mph. Log what you did.
- For fast efforts, where you can't nor shouldn't be looking at your computer, take note of your top speed after every effort. LOG IT. Make sure to reset it after you log each effort.

It may seem simple, but it's very valuable information.

Further:

Power Meter Head Units cost significantly less than the cranks. You can buy a good head unit for a couple hundred dollars. This will log: Speed, Cadence, Distance, Heart Rate and allow you to download the data for review and reference.

Felt like you were spinning out in that scratch race? Look at the file and see what your cadences were.
Felt like you were bogged down and couldn't get on top of the gear in that points race? Look at the file.
Need a way to pace out your 3K? Keep an eye on your heart rate and stay under a prescribed BPM.

When you get the cash, you can add the cranks later.
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Old 02-29-16, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
I used several pieces of software when I was anylyzing files:

- SRM PC software (the Mac software sucked at the time. Not sure if it's better now. I don't think so.)
- PowerAgent (made by PowerTap. I even used this to analyze SRM files.)
- Golden Cheetah

Golden Cheetah was my favorite.

BTW, you can import .SRM files into Golden Cheetah then export into other formats (.CSV if you want to import into PowerAgent).

One of my favorite custom charts was Torque vs Cadence. Basically, "How hard are you pushing at X RPM?" This was useful in determining what gears I was good at riding at high speeds. Even though I could spin 160+ rpm on the bike, my max effective cadence (where I was actually adding a useful amount of torque per pedal stroke) was around 140rpm. So, basically, any RPM over 140 was useless. I wasn't adding any acceleration (or any force to counter deceleration).

Conclusions:
- This lead me stop trying to use 150 RPM as a target cadence in flying 200M as used to be the conventional wisdom.
- I was vindicated when detailed photos of the London Olympic Flying 200M event would show 135-140-ish RPM on the racer's SRM head units during the fastest part of their flying 200s


Wisdom-gained:

Q: "What gear should I use for the Flying 200?"
A: "The biggest gear that you can get to 135-140rpm. If you get to +145rpm, it's too small. You are revving-out and not applying any torque."

I've been using WKO+, and TrainingPeaks online tools, to analyze data for a while. I've generally found these bits very useful for data analysis. A graph that seems pertinent to you, Carelton, is the "Quadrant Analysis." The graph plots torque along the Y axis, and circumferential pedal velocity along the X. I've not read much about the chart, but it shows pretty much exactly what you describe. High CPV and low torque aren't adding speed!

I've only recently started using Golden Cheetah, and have very mixed thoughts on the software. I must be dense (precedent has been set when I try to find things at the hardware store, fruitlessly), but the interface is not intuitive at all. The absurd number of metrics, options, optional metrics, and metric options, is overwhelming in by it's own right. Adding to this, some of the menus seem mislabeled, or poorly labeled at the least. However, the graphs looks much nicer, and display better than WKO does. The automatic highlighting of "efforts" is super rad. Oh, and it's FREE? Sold. Once the user learns what they're looking for, it could be invaluable.
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Old 02-29-16, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
I was doing 2x20-min threshold efforts a few weeks ago, and in that 2nd one I started to feel pretty bad 5 minutes in. And if I didn't have the meter, if I wasn't looking at the numbers, I would have been tempted to say "I cannot keep this up." But I knew that I can - and I held it through to the end of the effort.
+1

This is huge motivator for me. I would have certainly abandoned several of my efforts during a number of training sessions, but I kept pushing myself to follow the plan on power graph. I haven't trained anywhere near this intensity during the past two years. Heck, I'm challenged to think of a more than just a couple of races where I actually raced this hard in that same time frame.
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Old 03-01-16, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dunderhi View Post
+1

This is huge motivator for me. I would have certainly abandoned several of my efforts during a number of training sessions, but I kept pushing myself to follow the plan on power graph. I haven't trained anywhere near this intensity during the past two years. Heck, I'm challenged to think of a more than just a couple of races where I actually raced this hard in that same time frame.
My training numbers are pretty consistently higher than my racing numbers. I'm almost positive that means "DOIN' IT WRONG!" but the jury is still out, for my ego's sake.
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Old 03-01-16, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by JimiMimni View Post
My training numbers are pretty consistently higher than my racing numbers. I'm almost positive that means "DOIN' IT WRONG!" but the jury is still out, for my ego's sake.
Nah - I understand that this is very common. Think about it - in training, you are getting yourself the appropriate rest before an interval, you're aiming at a specific time period, and you're going all HULK SMASH. In a race, you might have different accumulated fatigue and most importantly, it's chaotic - you're pedaling how you need to pedal in order to close the gap, or establish the breakaway; you'll cost, you'll pause, or your sprint comes after a few minutes at VO2max.
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Old 03-01-16, 08:18 AM
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Wanted to discuss your comments from the other topic... Note my reply is from a self coached Masters Enduro viewpoint.

Originally Posted by carleton View Post
I honestly think most people don't analyze their power meter data and/or don't record data for analysis to be of any value. But, I also don't think that having done all of that, that the resulting diamond of analysis is that bright.

For the top 10% elite, yes. But for the bottom 90%, no.

In order for power meters (fatigue meters, as I call them) to work, you have to:

- Put them on all of your bikes
- Calibrate them
- Record every session (including rollers, trainer)
- Upload the data into the same software
- Learn how to analyze the files
- Learn what to look for
- Learn how to adjust your training for max effect.
- Rinse. Repeat.

I honestly think that most road/track riders simply don't do all of the above. Most don't care to or want to learn how to do the complex analysis. Basically, "I got a power meter. I saved the efforts. Now what?"
I think you are making it sound more complex than it is. As long as you have basic knowledge of training periodisation, training zones and testing methodologies (or just pay a coach) you can easily benefit from having a PM.

Just perform regular - repeatable testing to monitor and set training zones. Analyse strength / weaknesses against short and long term goals and tailor the primary interval sessions accordingly.

Non elites / masters will get far greater benefit than elites as they won't have a sport science team guiding them the whole time. Till having a PM, many will have been doing their hard sessions not hard enough and easy sessions too hard... Another benefit for non elites will often have less free time, so need to train quality over quantity. Having a PM definitely helps with this!

In regards to 'PM on every bike" - I personally don't think you need to record every session, only the key sessions to get huge benefit. Once your RPE meter is calibrated, it is easy to ride the other days at the appropriate effort and if really want to track TSS just manually estimate and add these to your training log.

Naturally you calibrate your PM/s. Though all my used SRM's are very stable but handy to be able to hang a weight on the arms to check at home.
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Old 03-01-16, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Dalai View Post
As long as you have basic knowledge of training periodisation, training zones and testing methodologies (or just pay a coach) you can easily benefit from having a PM.
I agree. I think Carleton is describing how to optimize PM use, but one can still get benefits well short of full-on optimization - one can have a PM on a single bike, doing some basic testing to know their zones and values on their CP curve, and the targeting specific wattages for specific time periods.
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Old 03-01-16, 12:00 PM
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My experience has been similar. I've always struggled with pacing longer efforts. Now I can set up intervals with good targets based on testing, very effective from 5m to 20m. A lot of gains over the winter primarily on 20m Sweet Spot and 5m VO2 intervals. FTP is up 15% while loosing a few Kg. Another plus is my trainer work and outside work are equivalent. So when I put together a plan I can still stick to it if the weather is crap or I run out of daylight. That is a big reduction in the "cognitive training load".

The one thing I have not sorted out yet is a data based way to set targets for shorter intervals, say 1m range. I've been messing around with the WKO4 model which takes into account Pmax and FRC (Functional Reserve Capacity, or W' in GC) but so far have not really nailed it. Not as cut and dried at this point as purely aerobic efforts.
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Old 03-01-16, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
My experience has been similar. I've always struggled with pacing longer efforts. Now I can set up intervals with good targets based on testing, very effective from 5m to 20m. A lot of gains over the winter primarily on 20m Sweet Spot and 5m VO2 intervals. FTP is up 15% while loosing a few Kg. Another plus is my trainer work and outside work are equivalent. So when I put together a plan I can still stick to it if the weather is crap or I run out of daylight. That is a big reduction in the "cognitive training load".

The one thing I have not sorted out yet is a data based way to set targets for shorter intervals, say 1m range. I've been messing around with the WKO4 model which takes into account Pmax and FRC (Functional Reserve Capacity, or W' in GC) but so far have not really nailed it. Not as cut and dried at this point as purely aerobic efforts.
I don't think it's possible to pace a 1m effort the way you would a longer effort. I mean, maybe you can "negative-split" it where you start off paced then ramp up the intensity. That's how Taylor Phinney rode his kilo in 2009 to win Silver at Track Worlds. Look at how his splits compared to everyone else:

Notice how his first lap was nearly the SLOWEST 25 of 29 racers. And his last lap was the fastest!




Detailed splits can be found here: Tissot Timing - Results - World Championships 2009 - Pruszkow Pruszkow Poland 3/25/2009 - 3/29/2009

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Old 03-01-16, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post
I don't think it's possible to pace a 1m effort the way you would a longer effort. I mean, maybe you can "negative-split" it where you start off paced then ramp up the intensity. That's how Taylor Phinney rode his kilo in 2009 to win Silver at Track Worlds. Look at how his splits compared to everyone else:
I get what you are saying. Right now I'm doing the direct opposite of negative split, more flat out and hang on. I did use to do paced 1m to 2m efforts on my Pursuit bike. Back then I would target a set cadence & use gearing for progression.

The issue is I'm very strong Peak to around 15s. Fall off a cliff from there to > 2min, then pretty good again once I get out into Aerobic territory. I really pulled the Aerobic floor up over the winter and thought that the speed endurance weakness would come up with it. To a degree it has but I've yet to find a training pattern that I feel is effective. A tough area for a 60 yr old rider to work on.
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Old 03-01-16, 02:09 PM
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Optimal pacing for generating max power for short efforts (in this context say shorter than vo2 max duration) is to start harder and hang on. You get to fully recruit more energy systems than if you even pace or negative split by going out harder. For longer, aerobic efforts, the advantage of blowing out the more rapid energy systems is diminished, and the cost if you go out too fast is high, so targeting negative split only gives up a tiny bit of potential speed but averts a lot of risk.
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Old 03-01-16, 03:19 PM
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I'm trying it both ways. The focus phase of my training plan has plenty of efforts that start hard and then either build (left pic) or hang on (right pic). The right pic is actually series 15 sec over/under intervals during the hang-on phase which make me think of strong headwind/tailwind situation on the track.

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Old 03-01-16, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by wens View Post
Optimal pacing for generating max power for short efforts (in this context say shorter than vo2 max duration) is to start harder and hang on. You get to fully recruit more energy systems than if you even pace or negative split by going out harder. For longer, aerobic efforts, the advantage of blowing out the more rapid energy systems is diminished, and the cost if you go out too fast is high, so targeting negative split only gives up a tiny bit of potential speed but averts a lot of risk.
That is how I have been doing 30s intervals. Max, hang on and crash & burn (aka how to make 30s feel like a minute). Long rest between, 15m+. Looking for improvement in power at the end of the interval. I might shorten them a bit, fading a lot the last 5s or so. I don't know if that's helping me or just adding fatigue.
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Old 03-04-16, 04:43 PM
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Found another power meter
Look Keo Power Pedals and Pedal Transmitters
You can find a video too
What is your thoughts on this?
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Old 03-04-16, 06:55 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Dalai View Post
As long as you have basic knowledge of training periodisation, training zones and testing methodologies (or just pay a coach) you can easily benefit from having a PM.

In regards to 'PM on every bike" - I personally don't think you need to record every session, only the key sessions to get huge benefit. Once your RPE meter is calibrated, it is easy to ride the other days at the appropriate effort and if really want to track TSS just manually estimate and add these to your training log.
I have to be a little careful here, I am coached and it is highly likely he stalks around here . It has been suggested that I need to get a power meter. Being good a good engineer I do agree that more data means more informed decisions (if properly analyzed and applied). But there's the old school part of me that came of age at a time when computers were a luxury, I did not have one for many years. What I have now isn't much speed cadence distance combined with a fairly fancy heart rate monitor. But with testing, that data and my account of the workout gives a pretty good picture of what's happening. It was discovered that my RPE may be a bit on the low side likely because of my past. Can't say definitively I pulled out of the pedal at the beginning of the last stage although the test was technically over by then I hadn't yet hit what I felt was a maximal effort IE I was still upright.

For me it's validation. No body is standing over me cracking a whip so it's my evidence that the effort was made. Sending it up to training peaks so it can be analyzed is a part of the fun. Unless I scored a 1.1+ IF on those days when I'm supposed to be making a hard effort I'm disappointed. Much like the old days of gauging your effort by how long it took to walk normally again after a ride. I still do that also .

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Old 03-04-16, 08:02 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by gycho77 View Post
Found another power meter
Look Keo Power Pedals and Pedal Transmitters
You can find a video too
What is your thoughts on this?
DC Rainmaker has a pretty good list of the available PM's.

Look and Metrigear (the later bought out by Garmin to become the Vector) were in a battle to bring their pedals out first. Look won that by a short margin, but had a number of issues and for those who want to use other head units weren't able to as Look / Polar didn't use Ant+ rather used Polar's data sending format.
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Old 03-04-16, 08:45 PM
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Worth pointing out that the track brings is own challenges to pm's, the only discipline where you apply significant back pressure without ever coasting. For some power meters that matters.
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Old 03-04-16, 08:59 PM
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Definitely. Have heard Vectors don't always produce clean data. Preliminary reports are that the P1's are looking okay...
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Old 03-04-16, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton View Post

One of my favorite custom charts was Torque vs Cadence. Basically, "How hard are you pushing at X RPM?" This was useful in determining what gears I was good at riding at high speeds. Even though I could spin 160+ rpm on the bike, my max effective cadence (where I was actually adding a useful amount of torque per pedal stroke) was around 140rpm. So, basically, any RPM over 140 was useless. I wasn't adding any acceleration (or any force to counter deceleration).

How do i set that chart up Carleton?
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Old 03-04-16, 11:32 PM
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carleton
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Originally Posted by Quinn8it View Post
How do i set that chart up Carleton?
Give me a sec and I'll write up how to do it.
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