Tag Archives: Power Profile

At last I am over the line

It is just a small thing, but I got my FTP test report back from my coach and noticed that for the first time all bars on my Power Profile have moved into Category 3 territory. Yes, I know it doesn’t really mean much unless it can be converted to power on the road. Still, it is something I have been aiming for over a couple of years.

WKO+ Power Profile

Moving into Category 3 territory (click to enlarge)

The bars I’m talking about are the ones to the far right of the graph. As you can see, all the bars are just slipping over the line. I guess now I can say I’m a “sorta good” racer. 🙂

The amazing thing is to see where the chart says the domestic and international professional riders chart in with their power! I can’t fathom putting out that kind of power. Even the next level on the chart seems like something I can never obtain.

It reminds me of seeing the time Thad Dulin put up on Saturday’s Paris Mountain Time Trial. He climbed Altamont Road in around 9 minutes 30 seconds. My fastest time up has been just under 11 minutes 40 seconds and I thought I was absolutely going to die when I did it. That is a whole 2 minutes faster. Wow!

That is part of the fun of cycling though. You can ride the same road as a professional (George Hincapie’s best time up Paris Mountain is around 8:45) and see how you compare. Something they say is that the pro is experiencing the same suffering you are only he is going faster. So, you at least can get a glimpse of what they are doing… just sooner on the pain scale!

I’m a happy man. More and more I realize that a goal I had set early on isn’t really the most important thing to be aiming for, but it is still a great day when you see any goal reached. Today is one of those days.

Where am I?

Here I am in the middle of a “rest week.” It is only a rest week in as much as I am not riding my bike as much this week. There is plenty going on otherwise to make me laugh at calling this a “rest week!” Still, it does give me a chance to take stock where I currently stand with my fitness and training.

One way I had thought of keeping track of my abilities when I first started using a power meter was to periodically take a look at the Power Profile you find in the TrainingPeaks WKO+ software. This is somewhat of a guide to show you how your power numbers match up with power numbers typified by the different category of racers. When I first started, I probably took this chart a little too literally and seriously!

My power profile... April 30, 2009.

My power profile... April 30, 2009.

As you can see, a little over a year ago my WKO+ Power Profile had me solidly in Category 5 territory. There is that spike into the Category 3 range for 5 minute power output. These numbers were generated simply by going out and riding — including group rides such as the Tuesday Night World Championships. I do recall that I was a bit discouraged at the time I posted this chart.

I remarked at the time that I must be an “all arounder” leaning toward a “time trailist.” Interesting how time has shown that was somewhat correct… but not exactly. More data from focused training and more information has given me a better picture.

June 2, 2009 Power Profile

June 2, 2009 Power Profile

First though, I started “riding to the chart.” I figured out what I would need to do to get the bars to move up into the level I wanted. Then it was a matter of just going out and producing power numbers that gave me the chart I desired. So, looking at the above chart you see that in two months I now had three bars knocking on the Category 3 level. Notice, the final section – my Functional Threshold Power – didn’t move that much. This was because I didn’t yet understand what that meant and how to make the bars rise.

Bottom line is that I was cheating. This showed in the FTP section of the chart. Riding to the chart was not make anything look better other than the pixels on the computer screen!

November 4, 2009 Power Profile

November 4, 2009 Power Profile

I begin to study more about what my power numbers were telling me.  While I was still giving a little too much emphasis to the chart, I was beginning to understand that I needed structure to improve. That is when I brought Jim Cunningham on board to help me move to the next level. The above chart was the one that I put up right after Jim started to coach me. It includes data from my first Functional Threshold Power test.

So, where am I? If you go by the Power Profile you might not think I have improve that much. I do not mean to discount the Power Profile chart, but you can’t base your success in training by a Power Profile. The Power Management Chart is a much better way to track your training. It is very possible that my wattage numbers may not grow significantly. The question is… How well are you using the power you’ve got?

Yes, it is clear that my power has improved (see the latest chart below), but more important I have learned how to sustain those peak power segments and recover to repeat them again and again. God through genetics has given a brightly burning match. Training has allowed me to add more strikes to my matchbook.

March 23, 2010 Power Profile

March 23, 2010 Power Profile

I’ll keep recording screen shots of my Power Profile. It is fun to compare them over time. However, I’m no longer hung up on it. I’m no longer training to the chart. I’m training for results and I’m seeing them. Somehow I think that before all is said and done, the chart will reflect it as well.

Where do we go from here?

First, let me inform you that I am pretty sore. The time in the gym introduced me to muscles I haven’t used like that in years. It is that good kind of sore though. It is the sign of good things to come. In the interest of that future, I am putting up some charts today at the beginning of my training. Let’s see how things change six months from now.

Power Profile - November 4, 2009

Click the image to enlarge

The first chart is my Power Profile. You’ve seen this before. Here is what it looked like back in April 2009. I’ve certainly made some progress from that earlier profile.  My question is, can I make that much of a gain in six months? Probably not, but it will be interesting to find out.

Click the image to enlarge

Click the image to enlarge

The second chart is my power and heart rate readings from my recent Functional Threshold Power test. As you can see the power line is all over the place.  This is partially due to the fact that I was doing the test on rolling terrain. Next time I think I’m going to do my test going up the water shed.

The numbers boil down to a FTP number of 287 watts. My functional threshold heart rate appears to be 180 bpm. Now, I don’t know exactly what that means yet. In my personal opinion, I think the watts are low.  I would like to be up in the 300s. As for the heart rate, can you work and adjust that or is that just a part of your physiology? These are things I’m going to want to find out.

We’ll worry about that later. For now, I’m just excited that my training plan has me having some fun on my mountain bike tonight. I haven’t been night riding since last November. It’s going to be fun.  I’ll be heading out there to Paris Mountain State Park around 6 PM. Anyone want to ride?

Going batty and a couple more things

I last rode my bike Friday.  Saturday I took my sons to a little amusement park, and now on Monday morning I’m still feeling it.  I guess I can’t just jump in and do things like I used to.

The ride was somewhat of a disappointment.  You may recall that Friday’s ride was supposed to be my attempt at my best 60 min peak power reading.  On Monday I had finished my warm-up ride with a reading of 276 watts.  Tuesday was a long ride that I believe took more out of me than I planned.  Wednesday was a short spin while Thursday was a little longer, but very much a recovery ride.

I thought things were going very well as I started out on that Friday.  The earlier attempt taught me a few things and I was trying to use that knowledge.  At 20 minutes I was averaging 294 watts.  By 30 minutes in I was at a 297 watts average.  Then it started going downhill.

It was about this time the heat (it was 92 degrees with high humidity) started to get to me.  That was a big difference between Friday and Monday.  Monday’s ride was wonderful.  This one was not.

I was now riding in survival mode.  The goal was to maintain as much of that average as possilbe.  I knew I wasn’t going to build on it.

With 10 minutes to go I was hanging around 271 watts.  At that point I couldn’t remember what my earlier average was.  Was it 265 or 275?  Turns out I ended up right smack between those two numbers.  It was a bit disappointing to only end up with my second best 60 minute reading.  Still, that was two attempts in one week with only a 5 watt drop off.

Saturday I was thinking about all my friends riding in the Caesars Head Challenge.  I really would have liked to have ridden in the first ever (though I am sure not the last) event.  My plans for the day were to take my boys to a little amusement park in the morning and then return home to Greenville after spending a last few hours with my family.

We started off with some minature golf.  I was playing with my brother-in-law and my two nephews.  My boys and their cousin, who is their age, were playing in their own group.  Needless to say, I got beat.  I got behind by a stroke early and then started taking chances in order to try to get back.  Wrong move.

Next, I helped my boys give the batting cages a swing.  I was proud of the way Thing Two got in there and took it to those 40 mph pitches.  Up to this point he had only received pitches from his coach in coaches pitch.  He is going to be ready to move up next year.

My older nephews talked me into getting into their cage where they were swinging at 80 mph balls.  I got one of the first four.  Then I started to figure out the timing and started getting a piece of about everyone that came at me.  A couple were even very solid hits.

Then it was on to go-karts.  That was very fun!  All in all it was a very fun morning and well worth the time I spent with my guys.  However, all weekend I’ve been suffering.

The batting cage did me in.  In college I had taken up tennis.  One day I was rushing and went out to practice my serve.  I didn’t warm up and then got a little frustrated about my placement.  So, I kept serving one ball after another.  My shoulder started to bother me a bit, but I kept at it.  Bottom line is I ended up messing up my right shoulder.  Now I have to be very careful throwing a ball or doing anything that requires me to rotate my arm above my head.

It didn’t cross my mind that I needed to be careful swinging a bat!  However, yesterday I ended up on medication and spread out on the couch.  Both of my shoulders were causing me pain.  They are slightly better this morning, but I’m walking around like a stiff board in order not to move them very much.

I do want to give a shout for our man Craig Lewis.  He had a very good showing in the Dauphiné Libéré coming home 24th overall.  That was ahead of some of the stage winners.

Cyclingnews.com has changed up their site again.  It will take me a little to get used to it, but my initial response is that it is an improvement.  They still have some formating issues to clean up.

Last week, Kirk Flinte mentioned on his blog that the DVD’s of the documentary on George Hincapie would be available within five to ten days.  I get the feeling that we may find them ready for purchase this week.  Should be an interesting watch.

Can you believe that the Tour de France is less than a month away?  Wow.  There will certainly be some interesting story lines for this one.  I’m looking forward to it.

Setting a benchmark

I’m watching a recording of the conclusion of the 2nd stage of the Dauphiné Libéré as I begin this post.  There are about 11 km to go and Quickstep is chasing down the four guys in front.  It is amazing to think of the speeds they have averaged during the stage.  That is especially true when I consider my own ride this morning.

Graph before ride

Graph before ride

It is my first day for riding here in the flat terrain of southeastern North Carolina.  I figured this one would be a good opportunity for setting a baseline for an attempt at a record 60 minute Mean Maximal Power reading.  Because there are hardly any elevations here, I figured it is a good place to put the pedal down and keep some consistent wattage going.

BTW, I just finished watching the recording of stage two.  Man, I was pulling for David Millar!  What an effort.  He almost got it.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my goals for the year is to move all the bars on my WKO+ Power Profile into the Cat. 3 zone.  I’ve managed to get all of them over the top except for my 60 minute reading.  Don’t know if I’ll get it this week, but I figured I would give it a try.

The morning started out very foggy with temperatures around 70 degrees.  The humidity was 99%, but with no rain.  I waited around for a bit until the fog burned off and then around 9 AM got on the bike to start out.

After the ride

After the ride

I left my heart rate monitor at home because I didn’t want to pay any attention to that.  My goal was to ride for 10 minutes easy and then try to push it as much as possible for 60 minutes.  I would then finish up the ride by just enjoying the road until I completed my second hour.

So, what did I get?  I don’t know.  I haven’t uploaded my information from the Garmin to the computer yet.  Let’s see what happened.

Well, I didn’t make it over the Cat. 3 line, but I moved the bar above half way in the Cat. 4 zone.  My peak 60 minute reading was 276 watts.  That beats my previous high by over 20 watts.

My plan is to take it easy tomorrow and just go for a fun spin over to Lake Wacamaw.  Wednesday I’ll head out to a road I discovered today and do some intervals.  I’ll have the heart rate monitor that day.  I’ll push it up to a certain HR and then back off to recover before pushing again. Thursday I’ll take it easy and then Friday I’ll try to beat today’s benchmark.

Click the image to enlarge

Click the image to enlarge

Above is the 43 mile route I covered in those 2 hours.  Here is today’s work out.  Tomorrow’s blog will also be a little later in the day as I hope to write about my trip over to Lake Wacamaw.  Hopefully I’ll be able to take a camera and get some pictures.

Got me a personal best

I was a little discouraged as I headed out for a ride last evening.  It all happened because of my mistake of looking back at my training time since January.  In that month I had several weeks with 10 hours of training time.  That changed in February and most weeks since that time I have not exceeded 5 hours in all but two of the weeks.

No wonder  I have had such a hard time finishing strong in any of these races.  So, I went out tonight determined to turn over a new leaf and work a little harder at finding the time to get on the bike.  Tonight’s ride was to be 2 hours in Cleveland Park with some tempo riding and sprints.

My Cleveland Park ride

My Cleveland Park ride

My discouragement started to melt away as I began to turn laps in the park.  My legs felt good and the climb along Woodland Way almost seemed flat.  The first hour seemed to slip by quickly.

During that hour I did several all out sprints along the flat section from McDaniel to the Vietnam Memorial.  Yes!  I got a new personal best maximum wattage – 1300 watts.  My 5 second peak at 1245 watts was also the highest I’ve recorded since using WKO+ to track my power.  The 10 second peak was still over 1100 watts.

WKO+ Power Management Chart

WKO+ Power Management Chart (Click to enlarge)

Notice the large orange line on the graph near the top.  That is the 5 second peak power line.  Also the TSB has now moved into positive territory.  If I play this smart and keep training hard and then taking some time off, I could start learning how to manage my effort and peak at just the right times.

I also have to bring out the old Power Profile.  With my new 5 second power peak, I’ve moved that category of the graph into the cat 3 level.  Of course, you can guess I sacrificed my 10 to 20 minute peak times in order to get that high reading.  I realize it is kind of meaningless, but one of my goals is to try to move all of the bars into the cat 3 section before the season ends.

The latest Power Profile

The latest Power Profile

Then in my second hour my teammate Sam came out to the park.  I caught her as she was coming from the Y into the park.  I sat on her wheel for a bit waiting to see if she would notice me.  She glanced back and then did a double-take.  Then she turned to acknowledge me.

We both had iPods going and she appeared to be out doing some fast spinning as well.  So, we didn’t talk much but just traded off leading the other around the park.  After my efforts in the first hour, I have to say that there were a couple of times I thought she was going to drop me.

Then that wonderful thing happened.  I started to feel strong again.  It is as though I had gone through a wall.  My legs still felt a little tired, but it felt as though I could ride right through the tiredness.  I probably could have gone on for an hour more, but Sam peeled off and I needed to get home for supper.

My frame of mind is much more positive now.  The way I figure, I’ve been finishing just outside the top ten in every criterium I have been in – except my DNF in Spartanburg.  Those finishes came with 2 to 5 hours of riding (including the races) per week over the last couple of months.  Hmmmm, who knows what might happen if I got some more time in?

By the way, once again the average power reading on my Garmin 705 from the Quarq CinQo was about 20 watts higher than the actual readings that ended up showing up in my WKO+.  On the other hand, the maximum power reading was about 20 watts lower on the Garmin than on WKO+.  This seems to be consistent every ride I make.  Not a big deal, just interesting.

Discombobulated

I have been discombobulated by my recent riding schedule. Now here I am just a couple of days away from the second race in the POA Cycling Summer Series. Am I ready? I don’t know.

After Mitchell I was off the bike for a number of days. Partially because I didn’t want to get on the bike, but more than that I simply did not get the chance. Saturday morning I was able to get in a 50+ mile ride, and then yesterday I got a quick 17 miles in the saddle.

Discombobulated is a great word. It describes how I feel right now. In my mind I sense that I’m not ready for Thursday night’s race. My body doesn’t know what to tell me. WKO+ says I should be.

After yesterday’s ride I took a moment to check out my numbers in the training software. Perhaps you remember my post about my Power Profile displayed in the software. Things have changed a bit.

My latest Power Profile

My latest Power Profile

My 5 second peak time has improved dramatically. In yesterday’s sprint session I was putting out over 1200 watts – which compared to myself is pretty good. My 1 minutes graph has also improved with the 20 and 60 minute peak bars remaining pretty much the same.

Now take a look at the Performance Management Chart. According to what I understand the middle blue number is the main one to keep an eye on. The idea behind this chart is to show you when you are coming into form for a particular event.

Performance Management Chart

Performance Management Chart

You can click on the image to see a larger chart. TSB stands for Training Stress Balance, ATL stands for Acute Training Load, and CTL represents your Chronic Training Load. To put it another way, TSB shows your form, CTL gives you your fitness, ATL gives some insight into how you got there.

As you can see, my CTL was pretty much flat line from April to mid-May. According to this chart, I should be at my best fitness level of the year right now. However, the idea of a taper before an event is thrown out the window as you can see my ATL is a like a mountain compared to my past.

The thing that scares me most is the TSB. If you believe this chart, it appears to me that I am at one of the worse points of the year for my form. Of course, it is too late now! No way can I change things in three days.

If I was seriously training, I would use this chart by picking an event and then building a forward looking training program based on past training exercises. This would forecast for me what my graph would look like approaching the event. The idea would be to build up and then taper (ease up and recover) before event so you will be at your best TSB and CTL.

Any help out there? If you know about this kind of stuff, what would you say this chart is saying about how I am going about my riding? Any pointers?

I’m very close to considering getting a coach for next year. It would be interesting to see how some structure and motivation would compare to this year. At least I’m building a base of data to work from!

Figuring out my WKO+ Power Profile

Once I started using my Quarq CinQo power meter, I ended up with a lot of data.  How was I going to collect it all?  Once I had it collected, what did it all mean?  These are questions to which I’m still finding the answer.

I have two applications I use most often.  There is Ascent – which I use primarily because of the really cool integration of the data from my Garmin and CinQo with mapping software.  I have found I do not use it as much as I once did.  The down side of the program is that it is not as useful as a training tool.

Enter my TrainingPeaks WKO+.  This is my program of choice for analyzing my ride data.  It has taken me a while to learn – and I’m still picking up on how to apply some of the graphs.

Today, I’ll just point out the one that is the most frustrating one – if you take it literally.  It is the Power Profile graph.  At first glance, it appears to be a graph that tells you where you fall in your ability as a racer.  The little vertical bars will show you how you would fare against the competition in the various racing categories.

My power profile... for now.

My power profile... for now.

I have competed in a number of category 4 races since moving up from my category 5 season last year.  If I might say so, I have done pretty well.  So, when I was looking at the Power Profile earlier this season and seeing myself in the “Untrained” section of the graph, I was a little upset.

What exactly is the graph telling me? Basically it is telling me how I compare to myself and others at my peak power outputs.  It graphs my best 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, and 1 hour peak power numbers from the last 28 days.  Using my best output, it then tells me how I would do in a race with racers in the various categories – putting technique and strategy aside.

Now, this confused me at first because for several months I was showing up as an untrained racer.  I knew that wasn’t true.  I was at least a category 5 racer!

Of course, the data doesn’t lie, so what is happening here?  Well, when I was showing up as untrained it was because I was riding for base miles.  I didn’t have any high peak periods.

In the last 28 days that has begun to change.  You can see that my 5 minute graph is moving into the category 3 range.  All the other graphs are finally moving into the category 4 range.

So, wouldn’t I know this anyway?  How is this helpful?  What can I learn from it?

According to what I have been able to read about this type of method, I can consider myself to be an “All Rounder” with a little lean toward “Time Trialist.”  This basically means I probably should avoid trying to make my way in the racing world by sprinting! The advantage of this graph is that it helps you determine you strengths and weaknesses in the various aspects of racing. You can then tailor you training to hone your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

I’m pretty certain that by the time the next 28 days have cycled through, I will be in category 4 level in all of the areas.  It will be interesting to see what TrainingPeaks’ Power Profile will say about me then.  That is where the system helps — it gives me motivation to improve.