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Do I really need a power meter
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I have been read the time crunched triathlete. Carmichael makes it sound like you can get pretty good result from a HR monitor. Sooo do I really need a power meter
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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IMHO, the biggest impact of a power meter is on a trainer. Training to power dramatically improves your training effectiveness. So, if you have a good trainer with power (including a Kinetic with InRide, or any trainer with a known power curve with Trainerroad or Zwift), then you probsbly have 80% of the advantage.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Need? No! Can it help you improve? Yes - Can you improve without one, and without any electronic assistance - Yes
I always think of Eddie Mercyk when this topic comes up. He was an amazingly dedicated and disciplined athlete. It is doubtful that he would have been any better with any of today's technologies. At the end of the day, physiological improvement is not dependent on technical toys, it is entirely dependent on PROPER stress, RECOVERY and adaptation.
For those that are highly in touch with their bodies and well disciplined- there is certainly less, or no benefit, and in some cases possibly disadvantages from the distraction from focus on what you are doing.
That said- for MOST people HR monitors and watt meters can make monitoring of training more objective and easier. There is significant overlap between both devices, and there are many STRONG opinions as to which is more effective- especially here on ST!
If you want to spend money on a tech monitor to improve your training, IMHO you will get the most improvement per dollar on a "recovery" monitor- which is certainly the biggest training weakness of amateur triathletes 😀
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [IntenseOne] [ In reply to ]
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I do consider my self pretty in touch with my body as a long time runner. This will be my third year cycling and my weakness. I'm not familiar with a recovery monitor
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Fishbum wrote:
I have been read the time crunched triathlete. Carmichael makes it sound like you can get pretty good result from a HR monitor. Sooo do I really need a power meter

It really depends on what your standard is, what kind of races you do and what your goals are. Plenty of guys race without them. I bought one a year ago, but never really used it as my training was all over the place, but I used it in training for 3 months leading up to a 70.3 race in December and found it useful.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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You don't need one, but if you want to increase the quality of your training it is probably the best thing you can get. Second is a smart trainer, although you can do just fine with an ordinary trainer if you are motivated and focus on the power targets. Even though smart trainers report power, my opinion is that one should reference the power meter on the bicycle and not from the smart trainer.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [valleycyclist] [ In reply to ]
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valleycyclist wrote:
You don't need one, but if you want to increase the quality of your training it is probably the best thing you can get.

+1

Best investment I've made as far as impact to my overall finish time. Will putting one on your bike make you faster? Nope. Will training correctly with it? Absolutely.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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My 2 cents as a long time runner who started biking before bike computers existed (speedometers, not powermeters). Back then without bike computers, most of us were riding like we ran. We ran and rode based on perceived exertion and were in tune with our bodies....same thing in the pool and some of us on cross country skis. You just knew what your output was.

Then speedometers appeared and things changed....everyone started chasing a "speed' which as we know is entirely stupid....I can ride at 500W or at 100W at 30 kph, it just depends on wind and grade. Suddenly cycling changed either riding with yourself with a speedometer or in groups where another idiot was chasing a speed number. But we only did this stupidity cycling...not in the water not running (at least largely not).

Then comes power meters and we go full circle changing our behavior back to what we did before speedometer.

So my 2 cents.....if you don't get a powermeter, please don't get a speedometer or measure speed via GPS. Just tuck that meter away in your pocket if you want to measure distance. NEVER worry about speed if you don't have a powermeter.

If you have a powermeter, then the speed becomes very useful. For a fixed speed your can change your body config on the aerobars and see your power go up or down (shrug, head up, head down, knees in etc etc) so you can get a virtual wind tunnel.

But either you use powermeter + speedometer together or you don't use speedometer at all if you don't have power. The ONLY exception where your speedometer is a bit useful as a proxy for a powermeter is on a long low speed steep hill climbing....I'm talking about a 10-90 min climb at 8% where speed and power are closely linked.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Question: Do you have $600 spare?

No: you don't need a powermeter.
Yes: you need a powermeter.

'It never gets easier, you just get crazier.'
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [georged] [ In reply to ]
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If you cannot accurately find the right effort to train and race at using a HR monitor, you would be wise to get a power meter.
Just be aware that all either of those do is give you a number, you need to find out what those numbers need to be for you.

If you don't take the time to understand HR and your own numbers, then it is no use to you.
If you don't take the time to understand power and your own numbers, then it is no good to you.

Pick the poison you understand best.
But a HR monitor is way cheaper.

I suggest that if you have taken the effort to educated yourself on HR and find that there are crucial aspects of your training and racing that you cannot glean from HR, then get a power meter to fill in the gaps you are experiencing.

If you haven't taken the effort to educate yourself on HR, then you probably won't take the effort to educate yourself on power and you will be no better off and have spent a bucket of money on shiny things with numbers on the front.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [georged] [ In reply to ]
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georged wrote:
Question: Do you have $600 spare?

No: you don't need a powermeter.
Yes: you need a powermeter.

I don't understand the concept of spare money. Must be a young person thing.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Fishbum wrote:
I have been read the time crunched triathlete. Carmichael makes it sound like you can get pretty good result from a HR monitor. Sooo do I really need a power meter
I've been using a HR monitor for years and find it very useful for both running and cycling. I really don't see a power meter as a necessity. Obviously HR is not an absolute measurement and is subject to variation when, sick, excited, tired, dehydrated, etc and with changes in fitness. However when used in combination with perceived effort and pace for running, it's still very useful. I don't see a powermeter as being a necessity. I'd like one, but at the moment I'm not willing to spend that much on one. I've two good bikes, one road bike and one triathlon bike. If I had power metering on one, I'd want it on both. I was considering a set of shoe based power meters which could be used on all of my bikes but the Brim Brothers Zone never happened so I'll leave it for now.
If you use an indoor trainer for some of your training then using power on that, via virtual power on Zwift, Traineroad or similar, should give you a good idea of what's to be gained. I use my Kurt Kinetic Road Machine with Zwift, which is a pretty good setup for getting approx power figures without a power meter. I have to say I do like power for interval training. But again, I don't feel it's a necessity or that my training is seriously compromised by not having power figures out on the road.

As the previous poster said, even if you get one, you need to know what to do with the numbers. I suspect there's a fair number of people riding around with power meters and gaining nothing from it.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Fishbum wrote:
I have been read the time crunched triathlete. Carmichael makes it sound like you can get pretty good result from a HR monitor. Sooo do I really need a power meter

There are three key measures for assessing a workout:
  • RPE - how it felt - did I struggle, was it easy?
  • Heartrate - internal load - how did my body respond ?
  • Power - external load - what did my body output ?

You can go a long way without power if you track RPE and HR.

For example, tracking the average speed or duration for a regular loop / TT is good enough for most. You know if it was windy and so can take that into account when reviewing progress. If you want to work in zones that are so fine grained you need a power meter, then you're probably doing it wrong.

For me, the issue here is making sure you look at 2-3 measures instead of focussing on just one.

If you all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Mark
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [wcb] [ In reply to ]
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wcb wrote:
valleycyclist wrote:
You don't need one, but if you want to increase the quality of your training it is probably the best thing you can get.


+1

Best investment I've made as far as impact to my overall finish time. Will putting one on your bike make you faster? Nope. Will training correctly with it? Absolutely.


I'm going to have to disagree here. If used properly, a power meter will definitely make you faster. It will allow you to pace properly and have a much better chance at a faster run. You are also less likely to bike to 'hard' initially on longer training rides and this will lead to better training and better race results.


Blog: http://262toboylstonstreet.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/NateThomasTri
Last edited by: natethomas: Jan 23, 17 7:17
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [natethomas] [ In reply to ]
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value is quite dependent person to person IMO, and also on what intervals you do.

as an example, if you more of a sprinter chances are you'll be more prone to over do efforts to start with and cook yourself and fail at doing the interval, I am a prime example of this, i have a hard time telling any difference in effort between say 250 and 300w, at least for the first couple of minuites....

if I'm doing higher level intervals, say 350w, if im not looking at the PM to start with I'll find myself overdoing it and hitting somthing like 500w... all of which quckly becomes unsustainable when your ftp's only about 220-230.

another good one is getting off the line, all geared up usually find myself hitting 800+
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [natethomas] [ In reply to ]
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natethomas wrote:
wcb wrote:
valleycyclist wrote:
You don't need one, but if you want to increase the quality of your training it is probably the best thing you can get.


+1

Best investment I've made as far as impact to my overall finish time. Will putting one on your bike make you faster? Nope. Will training correctly with it? Absolutely.


I'm going to have to disagree here. If used properly, a power meter will definitely make you faster. It will you allow yourself to pace properly and have a much better chance at a faster run. You are also less likely to bike to 'hard' initially on longer training rides and this will lead to better training and better race results.

You bolded one sentence, said you disagree with it, but essentially said what was in the sentence next to the one you bolded.

Just having a power meter on your bike and chasing a certain wattage is no better than chasing a certain speed. But learning to use it, and training with it properly *IS* going to make you faster.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [natethomas] [ In reply to ]
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natethomas wrote:
wcb wrote:
valleycyclist wrote:
You don't need one, but if you want to increase the quality of your training it is probably the best thing you can get.


+1

Best investment I've made as far as impact to my overall finish time. Will putting one on your bike make you faster? Nope. Will training correctly with it? Absolutely.


I'm going to have to disagree here. If used properly, a power meter will definitely make you faster. It will you allow yourself to pace properly and have a much better chance at a faster run. You are also less likely to bike to 'hard' initially on longer training rides and this will lead to better training and better race results.

I think to add to this, it can be motivational for training, but with perceived exertion and heart rate (or without heart rate, RPE is sufficient) you can get really good training. Exhibit A is in the pool or track. I can NEVER look at the pace clock or stop watch and be within 1 second guessing my 100m/400m pace. I think for training a lot can be done without a power meter. Sure, you want have the exact quantification, but since human bodies are not machines and there are a lot of stresses outside training that you can't quantify in weekly workload, trying to quantify total stress exactly precisely by adding up all the TSS from every workout is a bit of overkill anyway. I think weekly hours of training and sleep provide the a reasonably good picture.

But I can say that having a powermeter in racing for sure makes your run splits more consistent. The crazy thing about a power meter is that it is like literally spying into your competitor's physiology when he blows by. I remember doing a long climb at IM France at 225W which was 90% FTP....I chose to overbike the climbs because IM France has very long periods of zero watt coasting. I had at least 20 different athletes, many in my age group, weighing much much more than my 137 lbs weight blow by me. The quick math based on my 220W was that they were climbing well over 300W. Unless they were Macca or Faris, no way they could sustain those. I figured by the next climb, they would be going backwards, or as a minimum, they would blow early in the run. That's exactly what happened. I stuck to my wattage cap and Kona qualified. I don't "trust" that without the powermeter I'd stick to my cap and not chase the other guys in my age group, because early in the race 90% FTP may as well have felt like 65%. The powermeter just makes race pacing a ton easier than an RPE or heart rate cap. You basically get to meter out your glycogen stores properly and stay low enough to largely burn fat in a long race. You hear legends of Mark Allen riding at 128 bpm and consuming 600 calories per hour which is cool, but not everyone can be a metronome like Mark around peers in racing.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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exxxviii wrote:
IMHO, the biggest impact of a power meter is on a trainer. Training to power dramatically improves your training effectiveness. So, if you have a good trainer with power (including a Kinetic with InRide, or any trainer with a known power curve with Trainerroad or Zwift), then you probsbly have 80% of the advantage.

This is my feeling as well. Been using a kickr for 2-3 years now, and feel it has been invaluable for training. I also put a power meter crank on my bike a little while after......and honestly, I don't feel it has helped me during races. I get the theory of pacing with it, but it just didn't seem to do much for me. I was usually reasonably close to my target wattage anyway going by feel. And I only was using it for 2, maybe 3 races per year max, as the rest were shorter sprints and olympics where you pretty much just push all out anyway.
I may try using it again for racing in the future, but for this coming Summer, I'm building a new bike and am likely going to go without a power meter for this season.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [exxxviii] [ In reply to ]
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My good friend is a podium standing triathlete. He has been riding hard for 5 years with a coach. I used to crush him on regular training rides but since he got a coach, he is unbeatable. He doesn't use a power meter, heck, not one of us do. I guess we consider i an expense we cannot stomach. All this to say, invest in a coach, it is dollar for dollar a better investment.

Let us know what you decide,

Brevity
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [IntenseOne] [ In reply to ]
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Need? No! Can it help you improve? Yes - Can you improve without one, and without any electronic assistance - Yes

This is the correct answer.

One thing I am seeing via my wife's work coaching a number of new cyclists and triathletes, is that people with no back-ground in endurance sports have no idea about range of effort. They just have very poor perception for the variation from easy, to moderately hard to really hard. The power-meter, at least on the bike dials that all in for them and gives them a number that they can work with.


It shortens the trial and error time period considerably.


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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Fleck wrote:
Need? No! Can it help you improve? Yes - Can you improve without one, and without any electronic assistance - Yes

This is the correct answer.

One thing I am seeing via my wife's work coaching a number of new cyclists and triathletes, is that people with no back-ground in endurance sports have no idea about range of effort. They just have very poor perception for the variation from easy, to moderately hard to really hard. The power-meter, at least on the bike dials that all in for them and gives them a number that they can work with.


It shortens the trial and error time period considerably.

Agreed completely. That can be a good and bad thing (very rarely good but it does happen). Before I read up on VDOT and paces for running, my "Easy" pace was always WAY too fast. No matter what I did I just couldn't run at the easy pace. Finally I got a GPS watch, set the pace on it and taught myself to hold it at that level. Same with the bike, it was too easy to get carried away and go out of my zone. I think pacing is something that really needs to be taught and it is hard when you first start out to go on perceived effort.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [M~] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks a ton of good information here.As a longtime Runner I can honestly say I don't know if I Always followed The advice of Running coachesOn how to properly even use my heart rate monitor However Even in Ultra Trail runs I do not feel it was necessary Has it probably is in Ironman.I think a lot can be said By going off feel However This is coming from someone who is just starting to push towards long course And could be Completely wrong
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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Fishbum wrote:
I do consider my self pretty in touch with my body as a long time runner. This will be my third year cycling and my weakness. I'm not familiar with a recovery monitor

I was in a similar position as you .. I bought a Kickr, Power meter and Trainerroad subscription and have had massive improvements in my bike times.

You can probably get similar training effects from a smart trainer + trainerroad, but you wouldn't have the real time information on your pacing during a race.
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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You can definitely train without a power meter. But it is accepted fact that a training program using zone targeted intervals is the most effective way to train. Using a power meter does make a night and day difference when doing that type of training in terms of the fundamentals of accurately setting target levels, executing individual intervals against targets and evaluating results over time.

So, while you don't need a power meter, you should want one ;-)
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Re: Do I really need a power meter [Fishbum] [ In reply to ]
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In my experience, if you do the training required with appropriate brick runs... you will dial in the effort you can sustain. Make sure you also really practice the nutrition/hydration as well. Practicing the nutrition side can also tell you if you are pacing it correctly. The issue i find with most when i go through consultations is that their training/conditioning wasnt good enough which resulted in sub par performances.

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