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Has reading this forum changed your training methods?

Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
We have many questions on the training forum about how you should train for a specfic type of event or race and by and large the methods recommended are consistent re levels of training for endurance and speed but fall into 3 categories of application.

And they are to establish the level of training by: -

Power
HR
RPE
Combination of HR/RPE
Combination of Power/HR
Combination of Power/RPE

When I first started to post on C+ forum I was the sole voice for RPE but I've noticed a shift towards this method of late and others who are extremely pro power measuring. So extreme that I can see how a rider can be swayed into investing in a system and radically alter their schedule away from building a base into interval training from the word go.

Has reading this forum changed your training methods? 0 votes

Do you train by Power
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Do you train by Heart Rate
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Do you train by Rate of Perceived Exertion
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Combination of Power/HR
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Combination of Power/RPE
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Posts

  • pb21pb21 Posts: 2,168
    All three, although there isnt an option for that.
    Mañana
  • So extreme that I can see how a rider can be swayed into investing in a system and radically alter their schedule away from building a base into interval training from the word go.
    OK, I'll bite. :)

    1. Who would they be? I certainly encourage those who would benefit from a PM to use one but they are not for everyone. And I certainly don't toss someone into intervals straight up if that is inappropriate for them, it depends on a multitude of factors. Neither would Ric nor any good coach.

    2. What's extreme about using a power meter and doing intervals anyway?

    You're asking the wrong question IMO. Of those who have used all methods, which has proven to be the best to elicit performance gains?

    I have and the answer is simple for me.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    So extreme that I can see how a rider can be swayed into investing in a system and radically alter their schedule away from building a base into interval training from the word go.
    OK, I'll bite. :)

    1. Who would they be? I certainly encourage those who would benefit from a PM to use one but they are not for everyone. And I certainly don't toss someone into intervals straight up if that is inappropriate for them, it depends on a multitude of factors. Neither would Ric nor any good coach.

    2. What's extreme about using a power meter and doing intervals anyway?

    You're asking the wrong question IMO. Of those who have used all methods, which has proven to be the best to elicit performance gains?

    I have and the answer is simple for me.

    Alex

    I'm not suggesting that any self-respecting coach would or should recommend intervals willy nilly as a training "cure all" for all riders, all of the time. And I do have a lot of respect for you and Ric. :o

    The extreme is in the way Training by Power is portrayed as by far and away the best method of obtaining fitness goals for the racing cyclist. We are told that all the pro's do it, that our elite riders do it, in fact if you are half way serious about performances then you would be certifiably insane if you didn't do it. It is a recommended modus operandi from sports scientists who know their onions (and who make a few bucks from sales of systems).

    The purpose of the question is to see just how many have bought these power measuring systems and if they are using them, how they are getting on. If a rider has a power measuring device what sort of training are they doing right now?

    If like me you have had a couple of weeks off and lost the edge of your fitness during the christmas holiday period then there would be a loss of relative sustainable power and the temptation as I see it would be to recover that measurable loss by measurable intervals, straight away.

    Whereas I am going to go out for a an hour or so and build it back up to 2.5 hours rides at moderate pace up to 10/12 hours a week with a couple of tempo rides and 7/8 minutes full out 3/4/ times in a ride thrown in for good measure on a ride after a rest day. Much less fatigueing mentally.

    Your suggestion of the question I should have asked is an intertesting one, as how else do you measure performance gains if not with a power meter? :D

    As I write this post no one has admitted (poll) to using a power meter for training yet. I think the least you can do is put your money where your mouth is.
  • Well I use one and so do all my athletes. Not all have had one though over the years. Most of those that didn't, do now and would never go back.

    Certainly for me there is no question that performance and results have improved markedly once a power meter revealed the flaws in my training relative to goals, identified appropriate areas of weakness that were not immediately apparent in my general riding/racing (nor indeed the "expert" opinion of others who think they know). It also enabled far better use of training time. Despite getting older, I'm getting better and more powerful than 10 years ago.

    Have a look at a recent poll at Cycling Forums which asked people to quantify their year on year 1-hour TT power improvement (or decline) over last 5 years (or how ever long they've used a meter):
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t441427.html

    The comment about trying to go hard to "make up for lost time" so to speak is an interesting one (albeit a bit of obfuscation) - I think that is the case for some with or without a power meter. You are experienced enough to know how to re-start after a break but many aren't. However, again a PM really helps you quantify the training load and can actually help you "keep a lid on it" and make sure you don't become overly ambitious when starting out.

    I still don't know what is extreme about using a PM though or who is being extreme? I mean cycle ergometers that measured or controlled power have been around since the first reported one in 1883 :D

    Anyone who is afraid of the objectiveness of power data is probably not wanting to be held accountable. Any coach using power can live and die by the sword.

    Some complain about the cost but then spend $10,000 on their bikes. For some however, cost is a genuine issue and there are alternatives, perhaps less precise but there are alternatives.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770

    Have a look at a recent poll at Cycling Forums which asked people to quantify their year on year 1-hour TT power improvement (or decline) over last 5 years (or how ever long they've used a meter):
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t441427.html

    But the question cannot be objective. "Quantifiable" implies the ability to measure something. In order to be quantifiable then you've got to have a meter in the first place. Small wonder that the very people who replied are positive about their benefits.

    Rather ask; Have your perceived performances improved year on year over the last 5 years irrespective of what training method you use?
  • chrisw12chrisw12 Posts: 1,246
    I had a power meter and tbh it was a great tool, but it kept on breaking, this coupled with a censored lbs where I bought it (should have gone with Ric :( ) ment that I was without it more than I was with it.

    The times where it worked, I became so dependant on it, so much so that, when it broke and it had to be sent back, I'd get very, very stressed about it. In the end I gave up, it just wasn't worth the hassle.

    Mike's influence on this forum was a helper here as I realised that with the info that I had learnt about power and Mike's thoughts, I could train effectively without a power meter. Also I'd kind of calibrated my hr, pe and standard times to the power meter.

    By the way Ric's advice has been invaluable. He was the first one to mention 4 min intervals to me which I think are the dogs. Also all the RST boys provide excellent advice on all forums if you read around the power stuff.
  • timestartimestar Posts: 226
    I wouldn't class myself as a "serious" cyclist in the way that a lot on here come across as (it's a compliment not a criticism), but I have recently added a HRM to my training. Before that I tended to rely on perceived effort. With the HRM I tend to find I become focused (too focused?) on what the monitor is saying rather than what my body is teling me.
  • I use a combination of HR and RPE, but this wasnt a poll option! If I think im going too hard, or not hard enough, I check my HR on my wrist against how Im feeling, rather than have it strapped to the bars in view constantly. I'm still sometimes wrong...
  • chunkytfgchunkytfg Posts: 358
    I've clicked that i train wth a HRM as thats what i do.

    I must confess though that my training is more gym based than cycling based so I dont do things like 10-12 hours worth of time in the saddle each week etc I just do 2-3 hours in the gym 3-4 times a week on a multitude of cardio machines.

    I use the HRM as a good guide to RPE along with actual exertion levels and use the tradmill as a benchmark.

    I always run as the same speend and incline and use my HR as a guide. I've found that from starting out at the gym my HR sat at 170-175 while now for the same speed and incline it sits at 162-167 which in my mind is better along with the fact i can sustain that level for longer now.

    Okay so I'm not training for anything specific just weightloss and a general increase in fitness level but in my mind it serves as a usful tool to show how i'm getting on.
    FCN 7

    FCN 4

    if you use irrational measures to measure me, expect me to behave irrationally to measure up

  • Have a look at a recent poll at Cycling Forums which asked people to quantify their year on year 1-hour TT power improvement (or decline) over last 5 years (or how ever long they've used a meter):
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t441427.html

    But the question cannot be objective. "Quantifiable" implies the ability to measure something. In order to be quantifiable then you've got to have a meter in the first place. Small wonder that the very people who replied are positive about their benefits.
    Did you look at the results and read the comments? Some went down or didn't change much. Most said they improved.

    It's no more or less objective as asking people on a forum where the usage ratio of PMs is probably quite low and then drawing a conclusion when no one responds.

    If you want an objective answer then you need data that can be relied upon. You don't need a power meter of your own for that, just testing at regular times on a calibrated ergo (say a computrainer/velotron) or in a good sports lab. That's what I did before I had a PM of my own. Or pick a known hill sheltered from wind and see how fast you can ride up it. Even Lance did that.

    So you're suggesting people measure something using a non quantifiable, or at the least a very poorly calibrated, gauge? Or do you just want their impression of whether thay are going better or not? That might be a fun conversation but what does it actually tell us?

    I still don't know - what's extreme about power meters or intervals?

    Anyway - I'm too tired - back from seeing the movie - I Am Legend. Anyone wanna know what happens? Ha :lol:
  • Jeff JonesJeff Jones Posts: 1,865 Editor
    HR and RPE works for me, although I just use the HRM as a rough guide to how fit I am, relating that to hill climbing times. I rarely train to a specific HR although it's handy for 'sweet spot training', ie riding about 10 beats below your threshold for an hour or so. I've got a power meter on my TT bike, so ll keep an eye on that when I train and race on it.

    In the past, I've trained with power using a structured program. I followed it very closely and did improve...in training. But I didn't race as well.

    I don't know why, maybe the program was too rigid, maybe I was tired, maybe it wasn't specific enough to the racing I was doing. For example, I felt it cut down on endurance too much in favour of intensity. I know from experience that I do much better in races when I avoid almost all high intensity work in training but keep the mileage up. I guess I like to save it all for the big day.

    This is just me. I know that different people respond differently to training methods.
    Jeff Jones

    Product manager, Sports
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    edited January 2008

    Have a look at a recent poll at Cycling Forums which asked people to quantify their year on year 1-hour TT power improvement (or decline) over last 5 years (or how ever long they've used a meter):
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t441427.html

    But the question cannot be objective. "Quantifiable" implies the ability to measure something. In order to be quantifiable then you've got to have a meter in the first place. Small wonder that the very people who replied are positive about their benefits.
    Did you look at the results and read the comments? Some went down or didn't change much. Most said they improved.

    It's no more or less objective as asking people on a forum where the usage ratio of PMs is probably quite low and then drawing a conclusion when no one responds.

    If you want an objective answer then you need data that can be relied upon. You don't need a power meter of your own for that, just testing at regular times on a calibrated ergo (say a computrainer/velotron) or in a good sports lab. That's what I did before I had a PM of my own. Or pick a known hill sheltered from wind and see how fast you can ride up it. Even Lance did that.

    So you're suggesting people measure something using a non quantifiable, or at the least a very poorly calibrated, gauge? Or do you just want their impression of whether thay are going better or not? That might be a fun conversation but what does it actually tell us?

    I still don't know - what's extreme about power meters or intervals?

    Anyway - I'm too tired - back from seeing the movie - I Am Legend. Anyone wanna know what happens? Ha :lol:

    I thought that I had already clarified my use of the word extreme. The views that are held by the pro power meter brigade that it is the "only" way to train are what is extreme. The use of a power meter is not extreme and neither is doing interval training extreme, nor using power meters for interval training extreme.

    And your posts do nothing to counter this point of view, do they?

    Why the need for this constant evaluation of fitness? It has to be a coaching thing so that you as a coach can say, "there you are pal, well done" or "try harder, do more" or "you are doing too much, have a rest".

    For me fitness was and is an unfolding intangible thing. I never expected to produce the goods in training but worked towards race days at the weekends and towards a peak in championships.

    To be honest if you are using races as training as I would do in the early season then it is always a bonus to turn in a performance.You shouldn't need a power meter to tell you if you are progressing. You can see by the results relative to the other riders.

    When I get around to doing my interval training I will know how fit I am by how many sets I can manage before the effort wains and I can guarantee that over the weeks there will be progress made. Unfortunately last year I didn't manage to get to that stage.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    Jeff Jones wrote:
    HR and RPE works for me, although I just use the HRM as a rough guide to how fit I am, relating that to hill climbing times. I rarely train to a specific HR although it's handy for 'sweet spot training', ie riding about 10 beats below your threshold for an hour or so. I've got a power meter on my TT bike, so ll keep an eye on that when I train and race on it.

    In the past, I've trained with power using a structured program. I followed it very closely and did improve...in training. But I didn't race as well.

    I don't know why, maybe the program was too rigid, maybe I was tired, maybe it wasn't specific enough to the racing I was doing. For example, I felt it cut down on endurance too much in favour of intensity. I know from experience that I do much better in races when I avoid almost all high intensity work in training but keep the mileage up. I guess I like to save it all for the big day.

    This is just me. I know that different people respond differently to training methods.

    No you are just normal. The purpose of training, if you are racing, is to get the performance on race day and not leave it behind on the turbo, where youv'e just done the wattage of your life.
  • Jeff Jones wrote:
    HR . I know from experience that I do much better in races when I avoid almost all high intensity work in training but keep the mileage up. I guess I like to save it all for the big day.

    This is just me. I know that different people respond differently to training methods.

    I notice the same thing - I see the biggest improvement in TT times when I have been predominatly riding easier long distances. Riding club 10's has never made me faster at riding 10's strangely enough, but do a couple of 5-6 hour ride the previous weekend and it has a noticeable effect.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    I use mainly PE but also use another method not mentioned. It is called going out with better riders and trying to keep up!!!
  • I just noticed something about the poll options. I don't train by power. I train with power.

    There is a significant difference. :)
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    I just noticed something about the poll options. I don't train by power. I train with power.

    There is a significant difference. :)

    You cannot be serious.

    Everyone trains with power.............and a heart rate and a sense of PE.

    The distinction is in how a rider identifies the required training zones for endurance and speed. My OP was quite clear in this respect but then this is of course a "significant" wind up.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    I use mainly PE but also use another method not mentioned. It is called going out with better riders and trying to keep up!!!

    Yeah!

    It's called stupidity. :D

    (David, that guy I was talking about is Yousef Khan and looks to be in his forties,related to Jahinger, nephew or cousin or something)
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    I use a combination of HR and RPE, but this wasnt a poll option! If I think im going too hard, or not hard enough, I check my HR on my wrist against how Im feeling, rather than have it strapped to the bars in view constantly. I'm still sometimes wrong...

    Steve

    It was on the list but in submitting the post it got missed off somehow. Sorry
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Saw this thread after posted in "Coaching Schedules" thread. From personal experience I mentioned there one reason why I use powermeter.

    Notwithstanding my enthusiasm for using a power meter I dont only use that and answered power+RPE.

    However I would qualify: RPE has only started to have meaning after two years training and then only in context of what I have learned through using my power meter. Prior to that (as a newcomer to cycling) it only served to confuse me (e.g. one measure I saw had 20 different levels. Bonkers.)

    Very specifically my approach is to set a training goal for a session, defined by power. Then doing the session I will see how I feel and push harder if I feel good (so using I guess RPE). If I complete the session at a higher power than I planned then good news, I am getting fitter and next time will set a higher target band.

    So RPE is used. But crucially what I will learn from it is how my power is improving which in turn is how I measure my training progress.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • I just noticed something about the poll options. I don't train by power. I train with power.

    There is a significant difference. :)

    You cannot be serious.

    Everyone trains with power.............and a heart rate and a sense of PE.

    The distinction is in how a rider identifies the required training zones for endurance and speed. My OP was quite clear in this respect but then this is of course a "significant" wind up.
    No, not a wind up at all - I didn't mean in the sense of a rider generating power to propel themselves forward. I meant in terms of a training philosophy.

    Training with power is more than setting rigid training zones in power terms (which is what I'd call training by power). Those that transition from HR based training to power based training often fall into that trap. Training with power is a different paradigm, involving more than can be typically done with other methodologies.

    It could be viewed as semantics I suppose but it's not a wind up.

    As an example of what I mean - say you were training two individual pursuiters of similar stature for a 3km pursuit who both currently ride the event in the same time. IOW their current performance (level of fitness) for the event appears the same based on a stopwatch and how the rider feels after the event. Putting aerodynamic improvements aside, would you prescribe the same type of training for each? (That's a rhetorical question BTW).

    Unless you are training with power, it would not be possible to answer that question. And the answer could well be that completely different approach to training may be required for each to attain optimal improvement, despite the fact that their current performance and apparent attributes are quite similar.
  • J2R2J2R2 Posts: 850
    I train by heart rate. I do bear in mind though that HR isn't an absolute measure of how hard you're working, you have to remember that things like temperature and tiredness can affect it. Also I find it's more difficult to raise my HR on the turbo than out on the road.

    I can see the advantages of training by power. At the moment I've got other pressures on my budget, and I'm not yet at the level where I'd really benefit from a power meter, but maybe next year....
    __________________________
    lots of miles, even more cakes.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    J2R2 wrote:
    I train by heart rate. I do bear in mind though that HR isn't an absolute measure of how hard you're working, you have to remember that things like temperature and tiredness can affect it. Also I find it's more difficult to raise my HR on the turbo than out on the road.

    I can see the advantages of training by power. At the moment I've got other pressures on my budget, and I'm not yet at the level where I'd really benefit from a power meter, but maybe next year....


    It comes naturally to me but for those who are daunted by letting their PE determine their zone levels consider this:

    * Easy Recovery ride - Very Low gear easy pedalling

    TBH I only ever use this zone when it's that time of the year when I'm focusing on interval training and it's either in between sets or the day after a session or the day before a race.

    * Moderate ride - Pushing all the time only relaxing on descents, keeping the cadence high, riding the drags and climbs quite hard. Winter training majority of rides

    This level is for my endurance and rides last from 2- 2.5 hours. Last 5 minutes easy pedalling

    * 25 TT effort - Tempo ride

    Only ride if feel fresh, normally after rest day once every a couple of weeks or so. ride lasts about 1.5 hours including 10 minutes warm up and 5 minutes warm down.

    * Long intervals - 7/8 minutes followed by 2/3 minutes recovery

    Each set is done on the road early spring at max effort for as many as I can manage. Start off with one or two and build up to a max of 6.

    * Short intervals Indoor rollers, 30 second sprints followed by 30 second rests, sets of 5 with two minutes recovery between sets. Never managed more than 4 sets before falling off with exhaustion.

    Up to 4 weeks before the race you have designated as your peak and by this stage little or no endurance rides just intervals and recovery rides and races.

    Speed and endurance training is all covered and it's not difficult to identify the different zones from PE.
  • Jeff JonesJeff Jones Posts: 1,865 Editor
    My program is a simplified version of this (I don't bother with long and short intervals). It's basically 2xrecovery rides, 3xmoderate rides of 1.5hrs, and 2xmoderate rides of 3-4hrs, lengthening these once it warms up a bit.

    I haven't started tempo rides yet - probably do 1/week in Feb. I do these at about 85-90% of TT effort.

    I'm aiming to be race fit in April. It worked last year, until I started falling off and getting sick.
    Jeff Jones

    Product manager, Sports
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    From personal experience I have found what works for me in terms of RPE measure is paying attention to how I am breathing. I use these when travelling so have to use hotel gyms.

    Also aware of these when training with my power/heart monitors as useful signs of progress/training state. Good sign for me is when I putting in an effort that should signal a change of breathing but does not (e.g. climbs that I now with only the occasional deep breath that used to leave me gasping).

    Breathing zones
    > Not even thinking about it: recovery

    > Breathing in/out just nose comfortably: endurance, could keep this up all day.

    > Breathe in through nose, out through mouth: Marks start of training zone during a long (1 hour+) base workout

    > Need to start breathing in and out through mouth but breathing still controlled (so can alternate with breathing through nose): marks end point of training zone during base workout (so if reach it and not yet finished planned time may throttle back a bit). Also marks target average point for 1-3 hour or so tempo rides

    > Must breathe in and out of mouth but still controlled: Start point of shorter 60 min or less intervals. Also for me important measure of overall state (hoepfully will take more watts/HR to get there as training progresses and/or can keep at this state for longer.)

    > Gasping, breathing as hard as possible: One possible end of interval effort, may or may not want to get to this point during intervals depending on phase.

    > Not breathing: End of interval if appropriate for workout. If sustained for several hours may also signal overtraining. :wink:
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    bahzob wrote:
    From personal experience I have found what works for me in terms of RPE measure is paying attention to how I am breathing. I use these when travelling so have to use hotel gyms.

    Also aware of these when training with my power/heart monitors as useful signs of progress/training state. Good sign for me is when I putting in an effort that should signal a change of breathing but does not (e.g. climbs that I now with only the occasional deep breath that used to leave me gasping).

    Breathing zones
    > Not even thinking about it: recovery

    > Breathing in/out just nose comfortably: endurance, could keep this up all day.

    > Breathe in through nose, out through mouth: Marks start of training zone during a long (1 hour+) base workout

    > Need to start breathing in and out through mouth but breathing still controlled (so can alternate with breathing through nose): marks end point of training zone during base workout (so if reach it and not yet finished planned time may throttle back a bit). Also marks target average point for 1-3 hour or so tempo rides

    > Must breathe in and out of mouth but still controlled: Start point of shorter 60 min or less intervals. Also for me important measure of overall state (hoepfully will take more watts/HR to get there as training progresses and/or can keep at this state for longer.)

    > Gasping, breathing as hard as possible: One possible end of interval effort, may or may not want to get to this point during intervals depending on phase.

    > Not breathing: End of interval if appropriate for workout. If sustained for several hours may also signal overtraining. :wink:


    What you are describing is not really PE but more a case of identifying how fit you are rather than a measure of effort.
  • Mike WillcoxMike Willcox Posts: 1,770
    23 votes and an even split on the most popular method between HR and RPE. For me that's not exactly a vindication of RPE but a reassurance that there is a (mainly silent)body of opinion out there who think along the same lines as me.

    This is not reflected by the strength of opinion from the experts expressed on this forum.
  • MIne was power & RPE.

    Interesting, I note 1/4 are using power to assist with their training, which is a higher ratio than I expected.
  • I am one person who has recently splashed out on a powermeter.

    I've had it for about a month, and have developed a tendency to look at it during rides, sometimes it provides a kick up the bum to help me push a bit harder than I perhaps would do otherwise, especially when I know that i've gone harder than that in previous rides.

    Because of this training would be described as being power or possibly hr based as I still use HR zones to help tell me how hard im going.

    However, I think "feel" is still my biggest determinant of what i actually do in training, i.e. If I feel good / recovered I ride hard, if I feel tired I ride easy, power and HR simply help quantify things.

    In road racing your condition isn't always obvious on the results you get, especially when you have a sprint like mine. Whereas like you say Mike if I raced mostly time trials I would be able get nice feedback from my time / position relative to the opposition.
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