What's Cool In Road Cycling

Top Ten Reasons to ask Santa for a Powermeter

If you have the bling this holiday season, a powermeter will bring 10 times more to your game than any ultra light frame, aero gizmo-zoo, or carbon component. And with the rise in popularity amongst the amateur ranks, the competition from training with power is fiercer than ever.

Five years ago I bought my first SRM powermeter following on Greg Lemond’s heels when he started training with power in the early 1990s. At that time the power demands of road cycling were just beginning to be understood. Nearly 15 years later the knowledge of how to train with power has filtered down from the upper echelons of sport science into mainstream coaching and cycling.

As training with power continues to evolve, let’s hope prices continue to come down as well. In the early days, an SRM was the only available portable powermeter with a cost well in excess of $5,000 US. Nowadays “cost per accuracy” has come down considerably and an accurate, reliable, validated powermeter may be purchased for under a grand.

Here are my top ten reasons to ask Santa for a Powermeter this holiday season:

10. Rationalize this gift by letting “it be known” that this will be the last bike computer you will ever need. With an SRM or a PowerTap you can display and record Power Output, Heart Rate, Cadence, Wheel Speed, Distance Covered, Ambient Temperature (SRM only) and Energy Expenditure.

9. Get a grip on your training load and emphasize quality not quantity. The saying goes, “I used to train 20 hours a week until I got a powermeter”. A prime example is illustrated by riding tempo. Achieve greater physiological adaptations than by riding in zone 2 alone and have the data to show for it.

8. Test your fitness “fo’ free” anywhere, anytime with a field test. Show up on your group rides and wow your arch nemesis by exaggerating your power at threshold in watts/kilogram of body weight.

7. Optimize your aerodynamic position. Yes, a powermeter is an expensive proposition but it can also be a cheap man’s wind tunnel. During a field test, a powermeter can be used to optimize the rider’s aerodynamic position aimed at reducing aerodynamic drag.

6. Get a grip on your daily nutritional requirements by converting energy expenditure (kilojoules) into calories.

5. A powermeter is the ultimate way to incorporate sweet spot training into your program. Take what works from an old school training technique and see why with new school technology.

4. Perform intervals properly with more consistency, precision, feedback, and analytical ability. A powermeter displays wattage in real time (i.e. instantaneously) so you know how hard to go and it’ll keep you honest during your intervals!

3. Completely dial in your overall training load. Training by duration and distance is good. However, the ability to prescribe, execute and manage a scientifically designed training plan by measuring energy expenditure in kilojoules and overall training stress with the metric Training Stress Score is more precise.

2. A powermeter takes post race analysis to a whole new level by giving you and your coach something to analyze and serving as a common language for discussion. There is no more, “I got dropped.” A powermeter is brutally honest and now it’s “I got dropped because of x, y, and z”. More importantly it paves the way for adjusting your training to overcome those deficiencies.

1. Model out your training: You’ve been hitting the sauce hard, training 10, 12, and upwards of 15 hour per week. But what is the cumulative effect all those hours, kilojoules and TSS combined together? With a power meter it’s possible to use The Shit that will Kill Them a.k.a. a power-based impulse-response performance model. Boil all of your files, an entire season’s worth, down into three numbers: Chronic Training Load, Acute Training Load and Training Stress Balance or “form”. You’ll be able to figure out if you are training too much, not enough, and most importantly “just right”. Use the model to arrive on the start line of your most important races(s) in “peak” form.

Best of luck to everyone in PEZ land this holiday season and good luck convincing Santa for a powermeter. May all your cycling wishes come true exceeding even your biggest dreams for 2006.

Frank Overton
That’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed reading my training tips on PEZ. In 2006 I’m off to fatherhood times two, and hopefully a coaching position for a US based professional team. To keep up with my “going ons” or inquire about my coaching services please visit FasCat Coaching.com.

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