BOOK REVIEW: Training And Racing With A Power Meter

Training And Racing With A Power Meter, 2d Edition, Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan (Velo Press 2010)

As readers of my book, Smart Marathon Training, know, I am an avid supporter of cycling as a great cross-training option for runners.  As I discuss in my book, though, runners should take their training on the saddle as seriously as they take their time running.  One way to get the most out of your cyling time — and thus to support your running to the greatest degree possible — is to use a power meter.

To use a power meter to track cycling performance is to step into another world, one where numbers pile atop one another, graphs collide, and complex terms and theories swirl madly. This is a world that most people would find intimidating.  Noot Allen and Coggan. “If you’re anything like us,” they say in the introduction, “you’ll love it.”

Luckily for us, Allen and Coggan prove to be able tourguides to this world. In this updated edition of their popular guide, they explain the ways in which the different power meters on the market today measure a cyclists output, and why collecting and analyzing this data can help any cyclists, from novice to elite.

The book begins by providing guidance on establishing base parameters, including Functional Threshold Power (defined as the amount of power generated at lactate threshold) and Power-Based Training Levels. From there, Allen and Coggan provide charts and tests to help readers use this information to determine their power-to-weight ratio, and ultimately their relative strengths and weaknesses as cyclists. Included are numerous tests, all of which lead to the development of personal power and fatigue profiles.

Up to this point, the book is fairly academic, but here’s where the tires literally hit the road: the second half of the book describes the workouts that could be performed, and how proper pacing could be achieved, by using a power meter. But it’s not just the on-board monitoring that matters to Allen and Coggan; they are more interested in the vast amount of data can be downloaded from a power meter after each workout. They explain the software that’s available, and how to analyze and use the collected data to structure workouts for every form of cycling, from road racing to mountain biking, cyclocross, and, new to this edition, triathlon.

This is not a book to be read cover to cover on a Saturday afternoon. But once mastered, it could help provide any cyclist with the kind of information usually available only to elite pro riders. But while Allen and Coggan persuasively make the case for using a power meter, they seem to understand the danger involved in relying so heavily on quantitative data. “The principles for coaching, training, and the periodization of training really haven’t changed much in decades,” they write. What has changed, they explain, is the ability the power meter gives us to quantify training loads and responses. The power meter is a revolutionary tool, but it is still just a tool.

“It’s important to remain aware of the big picture,” they note early on in the book, “and not to get too caught up in becoming a slave to numbers.” That advice seems as important as any other instruction found in this valuable book.

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About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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