By now you will have got used to riding with your Powertap, forgetting about average speed and instead pacing your rides with power. As is mentioned in the last post you will probably also be getting an idea of your ‘critical’ power. Now it is time to start using your powermeter more specifically to get maximum benefit. You may be happy with your current estimate of critical power, in which case stick with it. Personally I like to use a simple testing protocol that is easily repeatable so that I can monitor the effect that training ‘blocks’ have had. There are several different test sessions that can be used here, many of which are referred to in the suggested literature. By way of example I use a session that I complete on a turbo trainer which contains a three minute maximal effort followed by a 20 minute maximal effort (separated by a spell of active recovery). My average power outputs for these efforts can then be used to estimate my critical power, Physfarm Raceday Apollo software has a neat in-built calculator to do this with.

Physfarm Software

It is also useful to get an idea of your power ‘profile’; are you a sprinter (high power for short bursts) or a time trial specialist (can maintain high power output for longer periods). Obviously this is all relative to you and it is difficult to make direct comparisons with other people to gauge whether or not your output is high. One way of doing this is to normalise everything to your bodyweight, again this is one method referred to in the reading list. This does mean that you need to have a suitable database with which to compare your normalised power outputs for different time periods. Personally I use a slightly different method for which, again, there is a handy calculator in ‘raceday’. This effectively plots your power output against time on a graph (the test session detailed above can be used in race-day to generate a very good estimate thus saving you the trouble of doing a load of different tests). The decay rate of the graph gives you an idea of your profile; a rapid decay puts you more in the realms of a sprinter whereas a slow decay suggests more of a TT specialist.

Once you’ve got an idea of these figures you can start designing your training around some meaningful numbers depending on what you want to work on. For example you might want to improve your critical power by doing interval efforts just above and below it, or you may want to increase your endurance by pacing a long ride at 70% of it.

In summary at this stage you can start to use those mysterious power numbers to make every session count:

• Work out your ‘critical’ or ‘threshold’ power
• Work out your power ‘profile’
• Start structuring key sessions around power output
• Make sure to keep hold of all your training data so that in the future you can monitor how your training affects your performance

Back to Part 1 here.

Recommended literature:

Training and racing with a power meter (Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan)

The Triathlete’s Guide To Training With Power (Dr. Philip Friere Skiba)