Training with Power Series: What is Training with Power

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Endurance Nation is a virtual triathlon team for long course athletes. Experiencing  phenomenal growth in 2008, from 0 to 400 athletes, Endurance Nation has also become known as THE place for power-training and racing triathletes. About 70% of Endurance Nation athletes train and race with power.

The coaches and founders of Endurance Nation, Rich Strauss and Patrick McCrann, have been coaching, training, and racing with power since 2002. They present here a series on power training and racing, light on the geek-speak, to give you an introduction to this hot topic. They begin with:

What is Training with Power?

It’s Not About The Bike
Really, it isn’t. The concept of training with power is best explained by thinking outside of the bike for a minute. Most of us are familiar with weight training. You go to the gym for an hour, put weights on the bar, and lift them. Curls, bench, squats, X weight on the bar lifted Y reps in one hour. You keep a log of the exercises, reps, weight, and at the end of the session can say “at Gold’s Gym between 6 and 7pm I put a total weight of 10,000lbs on the bar and lifted it.” If we wanted to totally geek, we could track the vertical distance you made the weight travel, the speed of the lift, etc, and attach some more precise physics numbers to our session, but this is good for now.

Now To The Bike
Maintaining this same simplicity, we want you to imagine your bicycle is a lightweight, carbon, human-powered piece of gym equipment. When you pedal the bike, you push down on the pedals with X force and turn the cranks at Y rpms. If you press harder on the pedals (and shift up in the gears to maintain the same cadence) what happens? The bike goes faster and you cover more distance in your one hour ride. More importantly, you’ve moved the mass of you + your bike further down the road. For the purposes of our conversation here, I want you to consider that going faster/riding farther in the same amount of time is the same as lifting 10,000 total pounds vs 9,500 pounds in the gym.

So What’s A Powermeter?
A powermeter is a device you mount on your bike that gives you all of the information above, in real time. You are riding down the road, pedaling at 90rpm and pressing down on the pedals with force of x. Geek-speak aside, the product of this, RPM x Force = Power, is what you see on the display as watts. This is a real time measurement of the work you performing right now.

Going back to our weight room analogy, this is similar  to the 180lb on the benchpress. You ride, ride, ride and when you finish, you have some more numbers. You have average watts (the average weight you had on the bar across all of your exercises). And you have kilojoules, the total work performed across the entire ride (or the 10,000 pounds you lifted in the gym).

Now We Can Dig Deeper
“Training with Power” simply means that you are training with a device that gives you this numbers stuff above, in real time. Your powermeter simply distills all the factors that go into moving a bike down the road into very simple terms. You, the work you are doing, the terrain you am riding on, the conditions in which you are riding — all gets spit out as watts and other metrics based off of those watts. Once we have those numbers, we can do a LOT of cool stuff to improve your fitness, your pacing, and how you approach training…all  of which will be covered in next articles of this series.


Coach P

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