Question: I invested in a power meter last fall and worked hard on the indoor trainer all winter. I did tough workouts three days a week with lots of intervals. On the weekend I cross-county skied for hours and even entered a few races. I figured I’d be flying in March, but instead I’m lagging off the back of group rides and the power I average for 20 minutes has actually decreased since October. What went wrong? – Arnold B.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Yours is a common situation, Arnold. You got fired up and overworked during the winter. You used too much physical and emotional energy in training when you should have been building an aerobic base and resting.
Now that real riding has begun in earnest, your body and mind are forcing you into the rest you neglected.
Another factor, I suspect, was the “new toy” aspect of the power meter.
A power meter is a wonderful training aid, but it’s easy to overwork when using one. The flashing number acts like a goad. If you’re pedaling along and see “160 watts” it’s tempting to pedal harder and raise thenumber to 180. Or 200. How about 220? Pretty soon that aerobic ride you had scheduled becomes a self-induced hammerfest.
To save your season, you need to back off and get the rest you neglected over the winter.
Take one week off. Do not ride. The week after that, go for several easy spins (with the computer or head unit displaying your power readings left at home).
Next, ease into harder training. Limit interval training sessions to two per week. A competitive group ride counts as an interval workout.
And keep that power meter put away until you feel fully recovered.