Juxtaposition of my cycling and swimming using power data.
One of the primary benefits available to power meter owners is post-ride data analysis. In fact, if you’re not taking the time to analyze your power data properly, your power meter is not much more than a very expensive toy (I highly recommend Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan to all power meter owners and perspective owners).
As power data is amassed over time, the data becomes even more useful: trends are easily spotted, and athletes’ strengths and weaknesses on the bike become glaringly obvious. This valuable insight allows athletes and coaches to alter training in order to address weak areas, or focus on strengths.
I’ve only been using a power meter (Stages Cycling) since March, and I’ve already begun to spot my own strengths and weaknesses. More on that a little further down…
Last night I did some tweaking to the Power Output page (found in the new Cycling section of JSF), and I’ve now set things up so that my Watts/kg is automatically computed for each of the many time interval personal records: I simply update my weight each day, and all the Watts/kg calculations are done automatically. Pretty cool.
So, armed with my power data, let’s take a look at Coggan’s Power Profiling Chart and see where I stand at various time intervals:
My current 5s Watts/kg is 13.54, which is what one might expect to see out of a Cat 4 racer.
My current 1m Watts/kg is 7.69, which is edging into Cat 3 territory.
My current 5m Watts/kg is 4.92, which is at the very lower end of Cat 1.
Finally, my current 20m Watts/kg is 4.03, which is in the middle of Cat 2.
So, what does this tell me? I’m weakest in the sprint. This actually comes as no surprise to me. I need to provide a little backstory here…
When I was in high school I swam competitively. I had some talent, and I trained very hard–twice per day, six days per week. I was on the varsity team all 4 years, lettered all 4 years and was state ranked (Texas) by my sophomore year.
While I was a competent sprinter in the pool, sprinting was not my strength. I could turn in a solid 50m or 100m time, but I was not state-ranked in those shorter events. The longer the distance, the stronger I became. My events were the 400m, 800m, and 1,500m (about a mile).
So when I analyze my power data on the bike, I’m seeing the exact same trend I saw almost 30 years ago when I swam competitively. Pretty interesting stuff, and further evidence that many of our strengths and weaknesses are genetic. Sure, you can work to bring up weaknesses, but all the training in the world never would have turned me into a world-class sprinter. I’m just not wired that way.
Having this information available is great, not just for spotting my strength and weaknesses, but also because I can easily track improvements and fine-tune my training.
Speaking of which, it’s almost hammer time… 🙂