A well-known and respected cycling coach, Joe Friel, has been an advocate for the use of power meters by competitive athletes. He contends that “the upper limit of potential for performance in sport is remarkably high and largely untapped by almost all athletes.” According to Joe, “To become fitter and faster, you need to make physical and perhaps even mental changes as you prepare for an event…” Among the ways that a power meter will improve my training are:
- Precisely match my training to my race season.
- Push my limits step by step.
- Pinpoint my fitness changes – reliably and accurately.
- Peak predictably for key events.
- Vastly improve my training efficiency.
Why not continue to train by heart rate, speed, or feel? First of all, heart rate is reactive, not proactive. According to Joe, “it responds to what the muscles are doing. It does not cause the muscles to work any harder.”
Second, with a power meter, hills and wind are of no consequence. “In a race, while others are guessing how fast to ride up hills and into the wind, the rider with a power meter is content,” says Joe, “simply holding the prescribed power. Power is much easier and much more precise measure of intensity than speed.”
Third, I am not what Joe describes as an “artist-athlete” who despises numbers because they “get in the way of real racing.” I am a “scientist-athlete” who trains by trying personal experiments and measuring outcomes so that I can find what works best for me. Joe predicts that I will thrive with a power meter, “as it’s probably the best tool there is for science experiments on cyclists.”
What power meter did I choose? The Wahoo Fitness KICKR Power Trainer. I’ve already removed the rear wheel on my new time trial bike and attached the bike to the KICKR for all of my indoor training sessions for the balance of the race season. My Garmin 510 computer has been paired with the KICKR and will now automatically record power metrics, along with heart rate, speed, cadence, and duration, during each and every training session for later analysis.