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Thread: Power Questions

  1. #1
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    Power Questions

    Hey all,

    Just got a PowerTap as an early Xmas present, just started training with it, and have a few questions.

    A bit of my background: long-time runner (sub 3 hour marathoner, sub 18 min 5k), climber, and all-round outdoor adventurer. Currently in pretty good shape, not crazy fit, but feel pretty solid. Have been off and on the bike throughout my life, but the bug has bitten and I want to get into it more.

    So I did my FTP test, per Allen & Coggan et al, and came up with an FTP of 203 watts. Heart rate for the test averaged 176. FWIW, I'm a male, 32, 155 lbs. I know that's a pretty low FTP, but you've got to start somewhere, right?!

    Based on that FTP, I just did a basic "endurance" ride on the trainer. A bit over an hour, with 2x 20min Level 2 sets thrown in. According to A&C, Level 2 puts me between 111-152 watts. For both sets I averaged 144 watts and 127 and 133 bpm, respectively. For the Level 1 efforts, I spun easy at 100 watts.

    I felt like this was a pretty easy load and am wondering if this is what a L1/2 ride is supposed to feel like. In the past, I've only gone off heart rate and always tried keeping efforts in the 140-155 range. I was no where near this today. Was I going hard enough or are base miles supposed to feel this easy? I feel like my FTP test was pretty solid. I was whipped at the end of it, and my legs were pretty smoked the next day. Any thoughts on what's going on here? Doing this right? Any suggestions, tips, etc appreciated!

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Level 1/2 is pretty easy load, and only really becomes labored after doing for a long period of time, and when performed for several consecutive days.

    Typical level 2 rides for me are around 1.5-3 hours. Give a 3 hour level 2 ride a go, and you'll feel pretty different about it feeling easy. 2 days in a row and then you'll feel the full effect.

    I calculate your Power to Weight to be 2.9 W/kg. According to the chart on page 64, it puts you between and roadie Cat 4 and Cat 5. Great place to start, IMO. (But race data, is always the best performance data. Power data are training guidelines, for the most part.)

    You'll also find that the more you do that 20min test, the better you get at it. Next time, try starting the test right around ~205W then slowly increase to 220W, and try to hold. Starting too high always messes up the test.

    Also perform the other tests (5s, 1min, 5min) to get the full story. Over the years, I haven't really improved my FTP that much, but I have improved those other numbers, and it seems it really improved my riding. And then there's also the ability to recover quickly after a hard effort, and the ability to produce power at the end of a long ride, which none of these test really capture.

    Another thing to consider too is elevation. If you're testing in Sante Fe for example (7200 feet), then your power numbers will be low.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 12-03-2011 at 10:03 PM.

  3. #3
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    It took me several months to get use to and have valid data from my power meter so take your test as a learning experience. After about three month of using it you should be able to do a accurate test and after six to twelve months be able to guess what your FTP will be before the test.

  4. #4
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    Getting a sensible FTP figure is something that takes a bit of time. The route and format of the test can affect the results. If you do a 20 minute FTP test on your turbo trainer and then do a 20 minute FTP test outdoors for example you may find that the results are quite different. The outdoors test being likely to give you a higher power output figure.

    If you're using the seven Coggan power zones, as calculated by WKO+ 3.0, then a one hour zone 1/ 2 ride is going to be little more than a gentle spin. Have a look at the descriptions of perceived exertion for each zone here:

    Power Training Levels, by Andrew Coggan

    Zone 1 (Active Recovery) is low intensity riding. You'd usually do this if you wanted an easy rest day, just riding gently without putting in much effort in order to clear your legs out.

    Zone 2 (Endurance) is still quite easy. You should be able to sustain it for extended periods of time. Bear in mind that the endurance zone in the Coggan levels is quite a wide range. If you aim for the upper end of it then that should be a fairly solid workout if you're doing a longer ride.
    Last edited by WR304; 12-06-2011 at 11:17 AM.

  5. #5
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    So what programs is everyone using to view there power data in?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuartaus View Post
    so what programs is everyone using to view there power data in?
    wko+

  7. #7
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    SportTracks
    Beware the hucking bear!

  8. #8
    Endurance Junkie
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    Golden Cheetah - it's really powerful and free.

    As for good FTP building workouts, these 2 are my staples:
    2x20' @ FTP w/ 10' WU, 10' CD, 4' RI
    5x4' @ 110% FTP w/15' WU, 10' CD, 3' RI

    Do some sprints and whatnot in the warmup to get the legs going. Or you could just download Sufferfest videos (A Very Dark Place is 5x4', Hell Hath No Fury is 2x20')

  9. #9
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    Training Peaks
    cheers
    Pagey

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