So I got a CycleOps power meter. Did I mention that? I don’t think that I did. Yeah, I took on a little freelance project and earned the scratch to upgrade the training tools. I got a CycleOps PowerTap G3, which is the newest, latest and greatest thing. I did not buy the carbon rims. Just the hub.
And then I had Jude at Sugar Wheel Works build me up a wheel on a wide H Plus Son rim. Black hub, black Sapim CX-Ray spokes, black rim. I am, as the kids say, all murdered out. Or something like that. It’s hot. (And the spokes? Man, they make a difference. Very stiff. If you’re gonna buy wheels at Sugar, do the test ride. You’ll be amazed at what she can do with different components.)
But anyway, let’s get down to brass tacks. I got the G3 to improve training. I’ve been training based off my heart rate for years, and it’s a fabulous way to train. But your heart rate reacts to what you’re putting into the pedals, and that reaction lags.
One example of a workout where that’s not so good is OverUnders. You do 2 minutes “under” at a hard tempo, then a minute at a really hard tempo (or in my case, all out). You repeat that three times without a break, take a five minute soft pedal, and do it two more times.
Training with a heart rate monitor, you get up to your tempo HR, then hammer for a minute. When you’re supposed to go back down to your tempo heart rate, you end up going too easy. You just do. You’re trying to bring your heartrate back down so you can do another hard jump.
But with a power meter? Oh no. You’re gonna keep going hard, dammit. “Oh, did you just crest that steep pitch with your heart rate nearly maxed out? Pity you need to maintain 304 watts for another minute. PEDAL, YOU SOFT MOTHERF%&R! GO! PUSH! HAMMER!”
So in other words, it’s great. Today was the first OverUnder workout I’ve done, and it really hurt.
I’m a big believer in using the numbers you see in training as a base, not a ceiling. That is, if my 1 minute, all-out, hurl-your-guts out interval needs to be 320 watts, that’s the floor. I need to be above it the whole time, but most importantly, I need to be putting that 110 percent effort in. It would be easy to do the opposite, which is to try to hover around 320 watts, all the while thinking, “yep, I’m working hard.”
(As an aside, one of the harder workouts for me is “SteadyState” intervals. They’re not very hard in terms of intensity, but both with a HRM and a power meter, I can’t seem to find a comfortable cadence or effort level. I’m always going too hard or too easy. It’s a pretty small window that Carmichael asks you to ride in for a SteadyState, but seriously. With the HRM, I was always a few beats over. With the power meter, I’m always 20 watts over or under. Maddening.)
Anyway. Today was a great workout. Yesterday was a great workout, too. I’m noticing that I should maybe hold back just a touch in my early intervals so I have a little left at the end. Because oh man, I am just tapped out by the end. And I’m not just feeling tired: I am literally putting less watts into the pedals at the end. I guess that’s kind of the point though, right? Crush your body and force it to adapt.