Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Using PowerTap to Study Fatigue in Cyclists

I found an interesting article today on the Saris website. It's about an "ambitious study to determine the effects of extended arduous work on muscle adaptations related to fatigue, fuel utilization, and performance".

Among the various data types collected over 2000 miles, Power was monitored using 20 Power Taps. Other data collected was gathered by good old biological samples including blood, urine, saliva, and muscle biopsies.

The full report has yet to be released and when exactly that will happen has yet to be determined. Keep an eye on http://www.soe.umt.edu/wpem/Giro%20Discovery_profile.html for updates.

For the original article and interview from Saris, click here:

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just starting with a Powertap...the benefit of your experience?

I'm constantly monitoring a Google Group on Wattage. There was a recent post that had some really good info. I would usually just link over to the page, but it's member based. I've pasted some of the recent posts:

Is there any advice from the folk that are experienced with using a
power meter? Any do's and don'ts? Or is it just a case of collect as
much data as possible and see what needs to be worked on.


I just started training with a power meter myself a month ago. Reading
"THE BOOK - Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Hunter Allen /
Dr. Andy Coggan, browsing thru all the posts in this group and
clicking thru the cycling peaks website gave me a good start.

Now I'm in the phase of testing and collecting data and after each
session I can't wait to download the data to analyse my ride. The
only downside - for the moment I just got one of my bikes set up with
Ergomo. But I think this problem will be sorted out soon :)



1) Read through all the Power 411 info at www.cyclilngpeakssoftware.com
2) Buy the Cycling Peaks WKO+ software -- it is infinitely better than the software that comes with the Power Tap, and well worth the price of 4 race entries.
3) Record and download ALL of your workouts -- they will feed into the "Performance Manager" -- don't worry about it too much at the start, but as you get comfortable with the basics, you'l want to start playing with it more. Having a complete training history is important.

4) Perhaps most important -- never forget that bicycle races are decided by the order of riders at the finish line, not by Functional Threshold Power, or Training Stress Score, or any of the other myriad of numbers that you can pull out of your power meter. Power is an important training tool, but there's a whole lot more to performing well in a bike race than having perfect training. It's easy to get caught up in numbers & loose sight of that basic fact.

Chris Fischer
Ohio State Cycling


I would concur with Rich_SC as far as giving it time to work and being patient with the interval work. My first 2 months I was really just using the PT and WKO+ as a data recorder, getting a feel for what the numbers meant. I then purchased one of Hunter Allen's power-based FTP- building plans from TrainingPeaks.com and spent 2006 racing season using that plan and the power meter to "grow" my engine and to help with my weight-loss (from 205 in 2005 to 167 in 2007). I also spent a load of time on this forum and reading T&Rw/PM to learn as much as I could about the wattage levels, TSS, and then the PMC. Then I developed a TSS-based training plan of my own for the 2007 season, and had a very successful season overall.


I would recommend, in approximate order:
1) ride for six weeks just learning the PM - download everything -
learn to ride some segments of your rides keeping the power in a +/-
5-10 Watt range
2) read as much of the previously mentioned sources of information as
3) get WKO+ software
4) test for your FTP, input into WKO+ and then import all of your
prior data
5) train with power
6) race with power
7) did I mention download everything?
8) when you get the hang of training and racing with power, try to
learn even more

oh,,,and try to ween off the HR strap.

Best wishes.

Steve Palladino- training with power since Oct 8, 2002

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Knowing when to say when

Yesterday morning I got up early motivated to do some hard interval training. As I warmed up on the trainer I noticed my power was really low. I continued spinning easy and thought I just needed to wake up a little more and get the blood flowing.

After 15 minutes I started my first interval. As I listened to the familiar sound of the wind trainer winding up and watching my power output creep up to 300 watts I quickly knew that today something was wrong. I just didn't have "it". I shut it down one minute into the planned two minute interval.

From there I decided to take advantage of the situation rather than being discouraged. I spun easy for another 10 minutes or so and got off the trainer. I went inside and cleaned up our kitchen and took care of a few other chores that had been neglected the night prior.

So why did I get off the bike instead of hammering through the workout? Two reasons...

  1. I could tell that I wasn't myself. I was well rested, but just didn't have my usual power.
  2. I knew that without giving it 100% on an interval workout the time would be wasted and minimal fitness gain would occur.
Today I woke up with a sore throat and stuffed up nose. I couldn't be happier with my decision to throw in the towel yesterday. Hopefully with some extra zinc and more rest I'll be back on the bike this weekend in good form instead of sick for two weeks because I over trained.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Coach and his Trainer

Teaching indoor cycling (aka "Spinning") classes keeps me around weight equipment most of the year. Chatting with a friend at a club last week brought about a very surprised look when I mentioned I was working with a Personal Trainer to keep me on a strength building program. "Can't you do that stuff yourself?" was her question to me. Of course I can, it is simply a matter of desire. Knowing what to do is only a small part of it. I am working with a trainer for the same reasons people hire us to work with them.

  • Motivation - There is really nothing better than having somebody plan your workout and help keep you on track. Take the brain out of the equation.
  • New Heights - Taking you out of your comfort zone is what a good coach/trainer will make sure you do to realize gains. It is easy to forego the last rep/set if you are training alone.
  • Schedule - Everyone is busy, knowing when and what you are going to be doing turns it into an easy to check off "appointment" with yourself.
  • Results - The coach/trainer needs to get results from you to keep more business coming their way. If you are not seeing results, you have someone to help you figure out why and change things up a bit.

There are certainly a bunch more reasons but my favorite is the fact that it simply makes things a bit more focused and fun. I still follow my own training plan using trainingpeaks and WKO+, just like we do with our clients. The added strength focus with the trainer is addressing some weak areas and allowing me to focus more on my cycling this winter. I know I'll be pushing new wattage highs very soon and flying in 2008.