It’s been a while since I last used my Powertap.  It had stopped working just before Christmas but the great guys at TFM and Powertap quickly got me back on track.  After every ride I’m eager to download my stats, graphs and data to analyze it and pick it apart.  If you’ve never used a powermeter before I highly recommend it.  If used properly it will completely change the way you train.   A Powertap costs less than a cheap set of carbon wheels and you’ll keep seeing the benefits for years to come.  A set of carbon wheels will look good but won’t get you much in the long run.

For the past month I’ve been in my Strength Endurance (SE) block of training.  That means that twice a week I’ll go out and do some “overgearing” work.  I’ll push hard up a 15-20minute climb using big gears at about 60rpm at ~400watts.  I’ll do 2 or 3 of these climbs per session twice a week and that’s enough.  You don’t want do overdo these sessions or they won’t be effective.    Combine this with a block of speed work and a block of power and you’ll be flying!  Note: there’s been a long debate on whether these SE sessions actually produce enough overload to make a beneficial adaptation on your strength component.  However, I find my body responds well to these and that’s all the proof I need.

Below are the stats that my Powertap recorded for my Saturday ride.  I did two of these SE climbs and then a third  climb at a higher cadence of 90rpm.

Summary Page – this page shows a summary of my last ride and the power zones that I trained in.  It will amaze you at how much time you spend in your recovery and endurance zones, even on a ride that you rate as being extremely difficult (don’t pay attention to heartrate. The data stopped half way into the ride. But, with a powermeter you’ll never pay attention to HR again ).  This is not a bad thing or something that you’ll aim to change.  The stats just point it out.  On the top right are your max power levels of the ride for different time intervals compared with your personal best power levels from combined previous rides.  This allows you to track your progress to see if you are getting stronger from your training.

The Details Page shows the overall ride and what it looks like as a graph.  You can see the 3 climbs that were done in my ride

The Powertap “Power Agent” software also lets you zoom in to analyze a particular part of your ride.  This one shows the first climb and at the bottom is all the data associated with it.

This is some of the great information you can get from a powermeter.  It also allows you to add notes, RPE and other information so you have a record of your rides. Interpreting and using the information that it gives you so you can improve with it will have a thousand more blog posts in the future.   The first thing you need to know to make the powermeter worthwhile is your Lactate Threshold.  I’ve written a post on how to test your threshold here .  This will determine all of your training zones and allow you to guage improvement.

There’s a website called TrainingPeaks.com that has a lot of great resources for power training to get you started.  Also check out Saris.com for some great power training information.

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