By Martin Sigrist
I recently talked about what, for me, is the biggest drawback of training with power: getting fixated on numbers.
This can become self defeating, if you know your threshold is 300W then anytime you see a wattage starting with 3 your mind will start telling you its not something you can keep up forever.
There is a way around this issue. It helps me and I’d highly recommend it to anyone else who trains with power, especially those starting off.
The idea is simple. Get rid of the numbers. Instead display power in some other form, one that your subconscious will see as less threatening.
This is actually quite easy to do if you use a Garmin bike computer. It gives you access to a huge number of “Connect IQ apps”. These are custom data fields that some kind person has developed to help others out. Downloading them is a simple task, you can do it via the Connect app or via a computer + USB. Using them is simple too, some need a bit of one time setup, then you just add them to a display as you would any other field.
They come in all shapes and sizes. Here though are the few that I use all the time both to challenge me and to give my mind something to think about apart from numbers. If you have a Garmin I’d suggest checking them out. Also if you have any found any IQ apps that you have found helpful I’d be interested to hear from you.
Live Peak Power/MMP Graph
This is my all time favourite. It’s quite simple. It just keeps a record of your best power numbers by durations that vary from a few seconds to 3 hours.
Then it displays the result as a graph. Each time you are near a PB it lets you know and if you have a good day and set a new PB you can see there and then.
I reset it at the start of each season and regularly ride just to see how close I can get to a PB. Once close I just focus on lifting the current ride line higher and longer so that it crosses the best and then I call it. I really have been surprised just how often, out of the blue, I’ve felt good and this has helped me achieve a breakthrough.
It‘s also useful for intervals, you don’t need to worry about numbers or duration except for the first. After you just need to move your current line up to the best for the ride. So long as you can do that you are hitting your target.
Mean Max Power Chart
This is similar to the previous app but with some key differences. The thing I like about it is that the area under the MMP curve is colored according to training zone. This is a great way to pace long steady efforts like tempo and sweetspot. Your ride objective is as simple as turning the graph the appropriate color, so long as you do its mission achieved.
Another nice feature is that you have the option if you like to see your 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and 20 minute current power. This can be a handy way to do intervals including pacing longer ones.
This is the app to stop “Pavlov’s dog” biting. Again its simple. It just sets the color of the data field according to power zone.
However this is a very powerful tool especially if you start using it early on when training with power.
It allows you to completely decouple from numbers. All you need do is make the field go the correct shade of, say red. As you get better you just change the setting so that this takes a few more watts.
Indeed I’d go further. It’s just a hunch but I think if you did nothing but ride using this field and every week increase each zone by just 1 watt I think you may get eventually get better than if you do everything by numbers.
What’s my FTP?
This field is mainly for fun but it is also remarkably accurate. All you need do is ride. If you are going above all day pace at some point the number will start ticking up. If you are going hard it will keep going up and if you are going all out it may get close to or even beat your current FTP.
It’s also great if you just want to do a tough but unstructured workout. Just ride hard enough to get it moving and you will have warmed up. Then do whatever it takes to move it up as high as you can get it. Short sharp efforts will move it up quickly but it will come down quickly too. Longer steady efforts will take a while to shift the numbers but once they start moving you can grab a quick breather and still keep pushing them up. If you get close to your current FTP then it will have been time well spent and you may even find you beat your FTP which may be a reason to re-test..
There you go. These four simple apps have been gamechangers for me. If you feel as if you have reached a training plateau then I’d give them a try. And like I said earlier if there is something that has helped you please let me know, I’m always after new ideas.
Now among the world’s fittest sexagenarians Martin Sigrist started riding on doctor’s orders in 2005 and had to push his bike up his first hill. Next year he soloed the Tour de France. He has since experienced every form of road cycling from criterium to ultra endurance. His ongoing mission is to use the latest in science and technology to fight a, so far successful, battle against Father Time.