Beginner’s Journey to Power Meter Racing and Training: Part 4

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Beginner’s Journey to Power Meter Racing and Training: Racing

In Part 3 of this series, we explored some ways that one can train using a power meter. Since that time, you’ve been training hard for your goal event(s) and have used your power meter to dial in your training to focus on the specific requirements of the big race. But now the time for training is over and it’s time to pin on a number and race. In this post, we will explore how to use your power meter to have your best possible race.

Pacing

In training, knowing your training zones is important because it enables you to really focus your efforts on the desired physiological improvements but it is also important to know your zones while racing. You only have so many matches to burn in a race and keeping an eye on your numbers will help you ensure you still have some matches left for the key moments in races.

Every time you go into the red (above threshold) for an extended period, you burn a match. Your power meter will allow you to closely monitor your efforts and reserve your matches for when it matters. Your power meter will help you judge when to sit in or pull, how to pace yourself up a climb, or if a break is worth the effort. If you see your numbers creeping above threshold, you know you need to pull it back a little if you determine that the effort is not worth it.

A power meter is a very powerful tool for pacing your time trials.

A power meter is a very powerful tool for pacing your time trials.

A power meter is also a very powerful tool for pacing a time trial. Since your goal in a time trial is to maintain a constant pace that you know you can sustain for the event duration, your power meter will allow you to target a number you know you can maintain for the event distance. Time trial pacing is a subject that one can spend a lot more time on but a good place to start is targeting to ride at your threshold.

Many traditionalists accuse power meters of taking the flair out of racing, turning riders into machines. Chris Froome receives a lot of criticism for his calculated riding style, but he has won two Tour de Frances with that style, so it clearly works. But don’t become a slave to the numbers. Sometimes you will have to push beyond what they say you should in key moments of the race and in those moments you will be surprised by what you can do.

Fueling

One of the less obvious uses of your power meter is that it can help you in planning and scheduling your fueling during an event. Fueling improperly during a race can ruin your day and waste the weeks and months of training you spent preparing for your goal event.

Your power meter can help you schedule and plan your event fueling.

Your power meter can help you schedule and plan your event fueling.

The basic idea is that 1 kilojoule of work is equal to approximately 1 calorie burnt. So if you set up a screen on your computer to show your total work, conveniently your power meter will also tell you how many calories you have burned rather than relying on your computers estimation. This will allow you to know how much and when to eat. The basic rule of thumb is to eat 1/3 of the calories burned every hour.

Analysis

This next benefit of racing with a power meter may not help you in your current event but it will help you prepare for your next one and is probably one of the biggest benefits of using a power meter.

A power meter allows you to analyze a race once it’s over and you have uploaded the file to your computer. During this analysis you can determine what the required efforts were and use this information to improve your training. You will also be able to pinpoint weaknesses so that you can work on them. Did you get dropped? What was happening physically at that time? Why did you miss that move?

After your event, spend sometime analyzing your power profile in order to pinpoint weaknesses and the specific demands of racing. You can use this information to improve your training by having it more closely mimic your racing.

After your event, spend sometime analyzing your power profile in order to pinpoint weaknesses and the specific demands of racing. You can use this information to improve your training by having it more closely mimic your racing.

By pinpointing your weaknesses and determining the required efforts through analyzing your race file you will be able to improve your training by having it closely mimic your racing.

Conclusion

So now that your big event is done, it’s time to take a break, reflect on and analyze the event, and start preparing for the next one. Your power meter is a powerful tool for training and racing and if used correctly it will make you a better rider. As you learn more about power meters, you will continually discover new benefits of this amazing tool!

Special thanks to Stages Cycling for supporting this series by providing a power meter for use!

Beginner’s Journey to Power Meter Training and Racing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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