By Coach Jana
I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the cyclist I am today without a power meter. Power meter is a single one piece of equipment that you can see indoors AND outdoors that will change your cycling forever IF USED PROPERLY.
My first experience with power was after I was in the sport for little over a year, and when I hired my coach – coach Jorge Martinez of E3 Triathlon Coaching. I have come a long way since then. My all out 20 min effort from 2010 is now equal to my half ironman race pace/power. That’s 56 miles (2-3 hours) on the bike after swimming 1.2 miles, and before running 13.1. It’s been a long journey but a fun one!
Whether you are beginner or elite triathlete or cyclist, you too can and will benefit from using one and here are just a few reasons WHY I believe a power meter will change your cycling forever.
1. Power Meter takes the guessing out of the game!
Unlike Heart Rate which is a highly dependent “input” variable easily affected by outside factors such as air temperature, lack of sleep, hydration (too much caffeine) or dehydration, and will lag behind especially in shorter workouts, power is an “output” measure which shows you the work you are doing right at the moment!
If you read my blog from last week, and decided to try to one of my favorite workouts – “The Feel the Burn” workout, the power meter will instantly measure your output, while your HR will lag behind. It will take a few intervals for it to climb and catch up to your effort. So, if we were just looking at your HR, it would seem as if you were “slacking” at first even though your actual effort was the same and so was your power. But was your power the same? You will never know unless you have a power meter, which will show you the true output immediately! It takes the guessing out of the game, and adds accuracy to your training.
2. Power meter is extremely efficient!
Most of us have a limited time to train so eliminating “junk miles” is key! Junk/endless miles won’t improve your fitness, but focused quality work will! Power meter maximizes your available training time and keeps you focused! Power meter re-defines what both “going easy” & “going hard” means. Since power output gives you instant accurate feedback (power numbers don’t lie), you or your coach can easily identify where your focus should be and whether or not the training you are doing is working!
3. Power meter can tell you OR your coach when it’s time to rest!
I know, most of us think we don’t need rest! Wrong! Power meter allows us to see exactly what happens in each session. So, if all of a sudden you stop producing the same numbers as you did in the same or similar session last week, you or your coach will know something is up, and it may just be time for a few easy days before starting to push again. Of course, online software’s like Training Peaks for example can quantify all this for us, but that’s a post for another day. Bottom line is, power meters don’t lie and allow us to track not only our fitness but also fatigue!
4. Power Meter will positively effect your overall race day performance & make you a better runner!
You want to win a race or you simply want to do your best. You get out of the water, and are not happy with your swim performance. You jump on your bike and start hammering away in hopes of catching up for lost time, not exactly thinking that perhaps you still have 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon to run. If you are lucky, you have a strong ride, get to the run and boom! Your running legs are dead! Perhaps it was a cooler day out, and your HR was super low so you thought it was ok because you were feeling great.
Power meter can answer all these questions and more that previously couldn’t be answered with precision. Power meter allows you to control your race day performance much more accurately because it allows you to better and more precisely monitor your effort during a race. You know from training, what power you should be able to hold for a given distance while still running well off the bike. There is no guessing! Power meter will stop you from over biking out of pure race day excitement allowing you to ride to your potential while setting you up for a strong run! Power Meter
5. Power meter holds you accountable & makes training and racing more fun!
Training with a power meter provides you with not only greater accuracy but also accountability in your training vs. training by heart rate. It helps to erase any doubts about your training, and allows you to accurately monitor your daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly or year over year performances. It holds you and your coach accountable because it clearly shows us the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of your training plan!
The immediate feedback you get while riding together with post ride analysis also make it possible to keep track of your personal bests during both training and racing, which serves as a great motivation to become a stronger cyclist.
So there you have it! Let power meter help you become more efficient, fitter, and stronger cyclist BUT do NOT become a slave to the numbers! Use your power meter to your advantage and not a disadvantage! Continue to pay attention to how each effort feels, and don’t ever ignore the signs your body is giving you. Some days you will have it, some days you won’t, and that’s ok. Soon enough you will be able to put your power meter in your pocket and know what each effort feels like. You will get in touch with your body, your own efforts better than ever before. I used to always think I was riding very hard, but I had no idea what riding really hard meant until I got my power meter and vice versa.
So, if triathlon is your lifestyle, I highly suggest investing money and buying a power meter vs. buying fancy set of race wheels you will be using 4-5x a year, or that fancy Di2 electronic shifting because that’s the cool thing to have. How fast you will go on race day will still come down to the engine, and not the bike itself. And if you are looking for advice on how to use your power meter, shoot me a message! We at E3 Triathlon Coaching are big proponents of training with power while of course considering your individual needs, and goals!
My favorite brand of Power meters is PowerTap. I have started with the Power Tap hub power meters and have now converted to the Power Tap P1 pedals that are allowing me to step up my game even more!
The P1 pedals are super convenient and can be switched from bike to bike in no time, they also let me track power for both my left AND right leg uncovering any inefficiencies or potential individual leg weaknesses.
There are obviously many more other brands, and power meters, and you can read more here and check out DC Rainmaker’s power meter buyer’s guide.
Happy Shopping AND training.
Coach Jana is an E3 certified coach and has an impressive racing experience having won the Amateur Title at Ironman Cozumel, qualifying for and finishing on the podium at the Ironman World Chamionhsip (Kona) multiple times, winning the USAT Long Course National Championship, and winning various races overall/age group.