Feb 21: Day 9
- Bike: 5 minutes in Z1, 20 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
- Run: 5 minutes in Z1, 25 minutes Z2, 5 minutes Z1
Weight: 173 \o/
This post will be a little fitness tech-geeky. Can’t say I wasn’t up front about it!
For years I have trained for the bike portion without a power meter or access to one. I’ve always used RPE and HR (rate of perceived effort and heart rate, respectively). For Olympic distance, I’ve always convinced myself I don’t need more. Mostly because they are so darned expensive. But as I look to conquer this long distance it’s something I think could really benefit my training and my race execution.
RPE and HR can be really inexact because one is subjective (how hard I FEEL like I am working) and one is not always indicative of effort. My Saturday intervals really hammered this home. They were short, 30 sec max effort intervals followed by 1 minute rests. I had 8 of them. Trying to do that workout with HR is comedy gold. By the time your HR gets up to where it is supposed to be for the interval, 30 seconds are over. By the time it slows down to where it should be for the rest period, you are on your next interval. Basically the HR meter is next to worthless, so I am left with my best guess. But am I really pushing myself to max effort? Who knows? Your perception of that could be altered based on how well you have fueled, how hydrated you are, how you feel that day, etc.
A power meter leaves no such lag or room for imagination.
As you pedal a power meter captures in real time how much power you are generating. It would help me to know if I am truly reaching max effort, if I am truly getting back into Z1 for rest, etc. It would also let me know, unequivocally, if I am pushing too hard on my bike leg regardless of my speed (which is a terrible measure of how hard you are working), my HR (which can be pumped up by adrenaline or the fact I just got out of the water), or anything else. I can plan out how much energy I want to put into the bike portion in order to finish in shape to run a marathon and focus on that.
So why haven’t I done it? Well, when I purchased my TRI bike in 2011 I looked at them, very hard. The problem is at that point they were over $2000 which was almost what I paid for the bike. It became a “someday” thing.
Then I switched careers, and took a job that I enjoy more but pays a lot less. That plus 2 young men about to enter college means I simply don’t have $2000 to spend on such a thing. I might be able to budget about a third of that, but can’t really justify more. And then there is another complication–I train a lot on a second road bike to reduce wear and tear on my TRI bike. It makes no sense to train without power and race with it, or vice versa. I sure as heck can’t afford TWO $2000 luxury items.
In recent years however, the innovation in power meters has increased and the prices have gone down. One innovation I have watched very carefully is moving to a power meter that isn’t attached to a wheel hub or chain ring, which would allow me to relatively easily swap it back and forth. However, some of these systems had their own flaws. Some attach to your crank arm and measure only one leg’s power, and you have to have a specific kind of crank to be compatible. Garmin came out with a pedal based solution which would be ideal (easier swaps between bikes), but it was $1500, not as easy to swap pedals as it should be, and not well reviewed for the price. But I kept watching, knowing eventually competition would drive prices down.
Then Powertap came out with these babies. O….M….G.
These are really accurate and come from an industry leading power meter company. The swap is as easy as it should be, and they are both Bluetooth and ANT+ so they talk to all my stuff. Unfortunately they were still $1199, so a bit out of reach. I filed it away.
But now, I just learned, they are offering a single pedal solution for $699 with the option to upgrade to both pedals later on at essentially the same price as buying both at once. $699 is JUST on the upper edge of what I can justify, and while it still is just a single leg solution (which can be somewhat inaccurate if your legs generate different levels of power)…it’s the best I can afford. And someday, I can get the other pedal along with it, which is a big selling point for me.
So finally, in 2017, I will start training with power. For those of you thinking about it, I’ll share some of my experiences with it along the journey and give what I feel is the straight scoop.