Power 101: Key Workouts: Using a Power Meter in your training
by Coach AJ Johnson
In creating a plan for the 2012 season, identifying your goal races is the first step. From there, you need to plan for proper base, build, taper and peak phases. Of these phases, the base and build are the most critical. 10 to 6 weeks out from your A priority race is a very crucial time in your training. It is the point where you start to transition from a base phase into a build phase. The base phase is spent getting in miles at a more aerobic effort and gaining endurance. In the build phase you introduce more time in the tempo and functional threshold zones. Being able to accurately monitor your time in these zones is crucial. That is where your power meter comes in to play.
First you need to perform a test to determine your power zones. I prefer the CP 12, or Critical Power 12 test. It is basically a 12 minute steady time trial that will give you CP values for several intervals from 5 seconds to 1 hour. From that data you can determine what your recovery, endurance, tempo, LT, VO2 max and anaerobic capacity power zones are. Make sure the test is repeatable as you will want to re-test yourself every 4 to 6 weeks to see your gains and adjust your zones accordingly. Armed with that data you can start to dial in each bike workout to ensure you are in the right zones for the right amount of time. From the CP 12 we can extrapolate the power training zones.
Let?s start with the long course athletes first. 10 weeks out from a long course event, half ironman or longer, you need to be getting longer miles on the bike. Your weekend ride for a half should be 60-75 miles, and for an IM, 80-100 miles or more is needed. The key here is that there is some, but not much intensity. You can use your power meter to monitor the intensity of your ride by noting the IF, or Intensity Factor, during the ride. That number should be around .65 to .75 for a base oriented ride. That number means that you were basically at 65 to 75 % of your threshold, which is what you want for a base oriented ride. During that ride you can still throw in some steady intervals, but the overall ride needs to be relatively moderate. These rides are fairly basic in that you want to stay steady and put most of your time in at your endurance wattage zone. You can throw in some 10-20 minute sections at a tempo wattage, but no more than 20% of your total ride time should be in that zone.
As you move into the build phase about 8 weeks out, you need to start incorporating more intensity into your rides, including your long ride of the week. Again, use the IF number to moderate where you are. At this point you want to start seeing some .75 to .85 IF numbers. To do this, add in periods of 30 to 60 minutes of riding at differing wattages. An example would be riding 30′ warm up at your recovery wattage, then move to 40′ at your endurance wattage, 20′ at your tempo wattage, 30′ at endurance wattage, 20′ at tempo done with a lower cadence, then do 2 x 15′ at LT wattage with 10′ at recovery wattage between, finish the ride with 30-60′ at endurance watts to give you a 3:30 to 4 hour ride.
For short course athletes the same principles apply, the numbers just need to be adjusted. Your long base oriented miles will be shorter, but a bit more intense. Short course athletes should see an IF of .7 to .8 on their longer rides. These rides really need to be 50-60 miles. Again, you can spend some time pushing the watts up, but you don?t need to see your LT wattage during this type of ride.
Getting closer to the race you need to simulate the high intensity demands of a hard 40k time trial. Approximately 8 weeks out from your goal race start to add in hard intervals that will teach your body how to deal with the physiological demands of these shorter but intense races. During this phase your IF number should be higher during these rides with .85 to .95 being a good range. A good ride might look like this 20 minute warm up at recovery wattage, then 4 x 2 minutes at VO2 max wattage with 3 minute at recovery wattage between, 15 minutes at endurance wattage, 2 x 20 minutes at tempo wattage with 10 minutes at endurance wattage between, 10 minutes at recovery wattage, 2 x 10 minute at LT with 4 minutea at recovery wattage, add in endurance or recovery watts and you have a hard 2:30 bike ride that incorporates tempo, LT and endurance. You can also do a ride as simple as warm up for 20 minutes then do 2×10 minutes at LT wattage with 3 minutes recovery and a short cool down to get an effective ride in about an hour.
A quick review, start with a power test that you feel comfortable with and determine your recovery, endurance, tempo, LT and VO2 max power zones. Then check your calendar and determine how many weeks out you are from your A priority race. As you are nearing the end of your base phase you still want to get in the longer miles, but start to test the higher end wattages a little. Monitor your intensity by checking the IF number. Long course athletes should see a .6 to .75 while short course athletes want it a little higher at .7 to .85. Moving closer to the race, you start to add what would be considered race wattage in to the program. Long course athletes should do so with longer periods spent at tempo and some LT, while short course should spend shorter amounts of time up in the LT and VO2 max zone.
You have an awesome tool at your disposal in the power meter. Take the time to learn all of its functions so you can unlock its full potential. In doing so, you will help yourself reach your full potential. Power UP!
Coach AJ Johnson is a USAT Certified Coach and can be reached for personal coaching at AJ@D3Multisport.com.