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Can a Power Meter help?

Posted By: KP
Date: Friday, 12 September 2008, at 1:17 p.m.

It's good to remember that tools may be more or less useful depending on the level of understanding the user has or his/her willingness to use it. The lap top computer has made working remotely, photo shooping, writing novels, doing reasearch and a host of other things very convenient to many users. However, if you only use yours to send e-mail from your living room you might not experience the freedom I felt sitting on remote beach with an air card while working on the internet. Simlarly, I have a Swiss knife that has two blades, a file, a fish hook remover, inch and cemtimeter measuring, scissors, a magnifying glass, a phllips head screw driver, a can opener, a bottle opener, a wine bottle/cork opener, tweezers and a tooth pick. I've only used half the features and I have had that knife for twenty years! Power Meters can be useful but like that knife and the laptop they aren't magic and neither of them do much on their own without my help. With that in mind I answered questions from an athlete wondering about the PMs usefulness.

<< At what point would you say a PM really makes a difference? >>

At the point you apply the direct and indirect feedback the power meter offers in a way that supports your training and racing. Those benefits may include red flags for deepening fatigue // recovery clues // a better understanding of actual ‘work done’ rather than your perception or cardiovascular stress (HRs) // precise interval training // race plans that support optimal run performance and fueling // better understanding of your personal tendencies as an athlete // identifying power spikes // removing doubt or questions that linger post race after underachieving runs // higher level of communication (what you did vs what you think you did) or between yourself and a coach // providing objective guidelines and data that support successful execution // the power meter adds depth to the meaning of your HRs when they get funny // that’s just off the top of my head.

<< I mean at what level do you need to be at? Or in other words: Someone who is happy finishing an IM in 14hrs most likely will find little benefit from power. >>

I wouldn’t agree with that. The 13-14hr finisher may have room to grow into a 10:20 athlete. I know a guy who did that :-)

<< I have heard many credible sources relate the benefits of powers while still others just say save your money and ride more. >>

Riding enough and correctly is the key. However, lots of very strong cyclists keep blowing up or under performing. So we know fitness only takes you so far.

<< So at what point do you tell people they really "need" to train with power to improve? Not sure you can answer that, but as someone sitting on the fence trying to make a decision I am certainly looking forward to your insight. >>

I don’t know if I have ever told that to anyone. I just share how the meter can support an athlete’s mission to improve.

coach KP

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