Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Training with Power - Baseline Test

Winter Training Update

On Dec 18th I decided to take Mike Peshko up on his offer for a baseline power test and his spinning studio RPM, which located right next to the Wheels of Bloor Bike shop.
Mike has a special Cyclops training cycle for power based training.
The training bike works great but is extremely heavy; we had to move it up some stairs and into a prime spot in his studio.
To get into the spirit of the whole experience I brought my Wheels of Bloor kit and put it on.
The goal of the session was to put out as much power as possible for 20 minutes. The results would indicate my fitness level and provide me with a baseline for training during the winter months.

I started the session with a ten minute warm-up that included two separate one minute sprints. When I got to the end of the warm-up I told Mike that I was ready to go. Mike was unconvinced and encouraged me to warm up for another five minutes and get my heart rate up a little higher first. Five minutes later I was ready for the test. This was the first time that I had measured my power output, so I did not know what to expect in terms of the power that I would be able to produce. Having competed in numerous Duathlons and Triathlons over the past two years I knew what it meant to put pace myself and put out a constant effort, so I wasn't to worried about making it through the effort without having blown my legs to early.

Mike started the timer and I increased my cadence and effort gradually. I watched wattage numbers climb up to 300 and felt comfortable. Gradually I increased the level up to 320 and then 330 settling into a familiar rhythm. After ten minutes on the bike I then pushed my output up to 340 watts. My heart rate continued to climb throughout the 20 minute effort. With two minutes left to go I shifted to a tougher gear and pushed the power up to 380 then 400 then 420 watts. When I reached the 20 minute mark my heart rate peaked at 178 which is my max heart rate, and a level that I have not hit in months.

After a cool down period that included moving the bike back to its original spot I eagerly awaited the results. Mike downloaded the data into the Cyclops software and pulled up my charts. The output indicated that I had produced a consistent effort that gradually increased throughout the workout; which was ideal. I had produced an average of 348watts during the effort at an average heart rate of 167. My average cadence was 122, which is too high according to everything that has ever been written on the subject. A high cadence for this type of effort is also the exception for Triathletes who normally grind it out in lower gears. Mike then showed me a chart of where my effort ranked my against other riders based on a power to weight ration that is calculated by dividing my average power out put 348watts by my weight 87kg. I was intrigued by the numbers and determined to move my way up the chart so that I could be classified amongst the top people in the sport at least in the category that I would be competing in for 2010. In order to do this I would need to both increase my power and decrease my weight.

I left the shop and returned home feeling like I had been exposed to a tool that could transform the way that I trained and help to propel me closer to the top athletes in our area. I kept thinking about how Ryan Roth had beaten me by almost five minutes in the Peterborough 40km time trial last July. During the July TT, I had put out a maximum effort and finished about 1:30 behind the top Master's level rider in the race, but lost five minutes to the top pro at the race - Ryan. With this new training tool I caught a glimpse of how I could close the gap. The next step was to purchase one, and they don't come cheap.