triathlon training

Is power measurement the "End All Be All?"

I personally have been using power meters since 2002, and I love to use power meters to coach athletes. I'm kind of a science geek and I love to crunch the numbers and evaluate the data. I also love that fact that the power data can enhance or even tell a different story from what the athlete conveys. Power meters give truly objective and accurate information that can't be obtained any other way. They let us track progress more accurately than any other method, and they help us dial in an athlete's effort level to ensure an efficient use of time, as well as determine when "enough is enough." There plenty of resources out there on training with power, and there is ever more powerful software available to analyze, evaluate, and plan training. These are all powerful tools, that help athletes track and attain higher levels of fitnes, as well as help coaches communicate and track their athletes better than ever. The problem comes when athletes and coaches become too reliant on the power meter.

The training and coaching of an athlete is not just a simple recipe or formula with predetermined inputs and outputs. Every athlete is different, and every athlete's response is going to be just a little bit different. An athlete needs to be viewed as a whole organism, not just a set of power data. In fact the subjective feedback from an athlete is every bit as important as that power data. I think some athletes and coaches easily forget that. They just want to open up a book, take training plan from the book, and adjust it for the athlete's power numbers. It is easy to get caught up in all the charts, graphs, and information that today's powerful software provides, but all those charts and graphs just don't tell the whole picture. I would argue that power data in isolation can even confuse the issue. For example in riders look at their power meter data along with a chart that says they are in a Cat 1 range and get frustrated because they are still a Cat 3.

How and athlete "feels" is every bit as important as what that athlete does. In fact there are several athletes I have been training for years that don't use a a power meter, a heart rate monitor, or any piece of electronic equipment on their bikes whatsoever. We train primarily using RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), or how an effort feels, and these athlete have reached many of their goals, as well as put wins on their palmares. Power meters have their place. And if i had my way, most of my athletes would train and race on them all the time. But power meters aren't for everyone. Price, functionality, and even all of that information makes powermeters and training with power undesirable for some.

For those that don't want to train with power, RPE works just fine. I used to rely heavily on heart rate monitors for athletes without power meters, but now I've gone the other way and prefer to use just mostly RPE. Heart rate data can simply change so much from day to day, and RPE conveys both what I want from the athlete, as well as what the athlete should do much better than heart rate.

Power meters have their place and many coaches and athletes love to use them, but they are by no means a requirement for success. Coaching and training is more than just looking at power numbers, and the entire experience of the athlete needs to be taken into account. Rate of perceived exertion and how an athlete feels is just as important as power numbers, and many coached athletes are successful using nothing more than than their own perceptions and some feedback from their coach.

Use the comments section below to tell me what you think.

Heat Acclimatization

One of the riders I have been coaching for several years is training for the SCNCA time trial championship. Last year when he raced there, it was an unusually warm day and the heat really got to him. Steve lives in San Diego, where the weather is quite temperate, but the race is in Lake Los Angeles where it gets MUCH warmer in May. In fact the lake Los Angeles area is typically at least 10-15 degrees warmer in May than coastal San Diego Where Steve lives. So 2 weeks ago Steve started working to acclimitize to the heat by working out in his sun room twice a week. He set up the trainer, turns on the heater and just goes for it. Heat accilimitization starts to occur in is little as 3 days, and full accilimitization can be achieved in as little as 2 weeks. Acclimitiazation adaptations simply allow the body to stay a little cooler AND operate at a higher level when hot. These adaptations include increased blood volume, increased skin blood flow increased sweat rate, and changes in the sweat itself.Steve is off to race in the 50+ category. Good luck steve, those hot trainer sessions should pay off!

Computrainer Course Previews

Check out Karl Coleman's blog on riding a computrainer course preview on the multirider computrainer system.: http://fastplanet.blogspot.com/2010/01/computrainer-training-for-cal.html computrainer screen shot

Want to see the current  Computrainer schedule.  Check it out here.

Our  January 23rd computrainer course preview of the Oceanside 70.3 course is  already sold out, so we will be adding another course preview soon.  Stay tuned for details!

Ironman AZ

I just wanted to give a shout out to Matt Buster and Karl Coleman.   Both of these are class regulars who  competed in Ironman Arizona last weekend. Karl Came in under  just under11 hours and Matt Came in around 11:20.  A good bike leg contributed to the success of  both of  them.   They each took 25 minutes off of their PRs for their bike legs, and are convinced that their indoor training  at the studio helped them achieve that goal.   Good Job guys, we know we'll see you back in class after you've indulged in a little post event R&R!

Congrats to Matt Buster

Congrats to Matt Buster who took 25 minutes off of his PR for a half ironman distance at the Soma Half Iron Distance Triathlon  Matt has been coming to class twice a week, and told me a few weeks ago that the classes have defintely made him faster.    His bike leg was a very respectable 2:38, average watts 218,  and average speed of 21.3 MPH for 56 miles.  That's pretty darn good....especially  when you have to do a swim before and a run after!