Average Power Vs Time In The Zone

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Bike4Him, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. Bike4Him

    Bike4Him New Member

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    Regardless of the interval length and target power level, I never get close to the amount of time within the interval that I'm shooting for.

    Here's an example.
    If I plan on 4 minutes at VO2 max then 4 minutes easy then 4 minutes at VO2 max I'll end up with my average power exactly where I want it, but the ride file shows I was only in the zone for maybe 2 minutes.
    I ride on a fairly steady hill and focus on keeping the power steady, but I obviously suck at it.

    If I ride a 20 minute interval I'll get similar results. 20 minutes spread over levels 2 to 6 with a slight majority percentage of the time within the range I'm shooting for.

    If I could see any pattern I'd say I usually overshoot the power level I want to be in. Maybe I'm continually trying to catch up when I see the average drop below the target.

    Should I do more intervals to get the total time in the proper zone or just do longer intervals or ride indoors when I'm trying to be specific?
     
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  2. Nigel Doyle

    Nigel Doyle Member

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    Surely if it was possible for you to ride 4 minutes at your V02 max then you're not really at your V02 max? More likely somewhat less but still in zone 5 and above your threshold.

    Sounds like you need to get yourself a structured training plan with specific intervals and required power / heart rate zones. This would include indoor and outdoor rides. When I ride indoors on my trainer I use Trainerroad with virtual power and have required power profiles for my workouts. Outside I use heart rate zones only since I don't have a power meter yet.
     
  3. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    Sounds like you are playing a game of "chasing your power meter tail".

    Don't over correct and don't make instantaneous corrections.

    When you decide you want to do specific interval work within a specific power range, the adjustments to effort required when you find your self drifting out of range are subtle and need to be made over longer durations, and not instantaneously. Ínstant and obvious changes in effort result in large fluctuations in power.

    Often when you see a number that's too high or low - just keep pedalling as you were and dont respond immediately as it often comes back to the right level all by itself. If it 'stays out of desired range after a bit of time, then make gradual adjustments to your effort and monitor those over longer periods before reassessing.

    I wouldn't be overly concerned about micro variations. That's normal and natural.

    Perhaps lengthen the rolling average duration of your power meter display so you don't get overly jumpy feedback that makes you over react.
     
  4. Bike4Him

    Bike4Him New Member

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    Yep, I get it, and I thank you for the reply.

    I'm focusing more on how I feel. Perceived effort. This seems to work better as I get to know what 200 watts "feels" like or 240 "feels" like.
    Then I can trust that I'm in the zone and not stare at the readout and end up all over the map.
    I'm going to change how the meter displays and averages as well.

    Would it be better to use IF instead of Average Watts as my gauge? My Joule shows both readouts.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Nigel Doyle

    Nigel Doyle Member

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    I go by heart rate and maybe look down every couple of minutes. Perceived effort is a bit wishy washy to me. If you're using a Garmin you can set it up to warn you if your heart rate is too low or too high. For my outdoor structured workouts I'll often set up a workout on Garmin Connect e.g. warmup until lap button pressed, 10 minutes zone 3+ heart rate, 10 minute recovery zone 2, repeat times, ride until lap button pressed no target. Again it will beep at you and notify you if your heart rate is out of the zone. No real need to constantly monitor your Garmin.

    But hey, you do your own thing.
     
  6. Bike4Him

    Bike4Him New Member

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    Even though training by HR and training with power are very different, we're basically doing the same thing.
    You hear a beep and pedal harder or easier.
    I glance at the avg watts and pedal harder or easier.

    That's the point and the problem.

    Here's the difference...heart rate reacts slow and smooth, power is instant and jumpy. I'm trying to smooth it out to remain within the training zone for the selected period of time. As I learn the perceived effort required to do 200 or 225 or 250 watts I'll be able to remain within that zone longer. I can always glance at the computer to eliminate any wishy washiness.

    Question for power users. Would it be better to monitor IF or AVG? Is one better than the other based on the length of interval?
     
  7. Alex Simmons

    Alex Simmons Member

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    IF is a longer duration indicator of intensity, not a short term guide to effort.
     
  8. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I ride to power targets all the time, for long and short durations. By long, I mean up to and including 2hrs at a constant power. And, you're correct that it's difficult to maintain a target power with or without looking at your power meter frequently. This is because power meters measure watts very frequently and very precisely. A few suggestions based on my experience. First, set your handlebar computer to display 5sec rolling average watts instead of instantaneous watts. Your computer will still record watts at 1sec frequency, but what you will see on your display will be a 5sec average. This will dampen the oscillations somewhat. Second, manage your intensity of effort with cadence and not watts. Set a gear and cadence that produces your target power and then maintain that cadence until resistance changes due to grade or wind. It's a lot easier to manage cadence than watts. Third, you will find it infinitely easier to maintain your target power on a route segment that has a constant resistance, such as an uphill or upwind segment. My favorite routes for doing long, steady power efforts are gradual upgrades into the wind. My dream road segment would be a constant 4% grade for about 30 miles on a southwest heading with no stoplights. On the flat, the bike speed increases too easily and too quickly from a slight increase in power. Finally, don't worry too much about hitting your target power precisely. For most efforts, being off by 5-10 watts will still produce the desired adaptation.
     
  9. Bike4Him

    Bike4Him New Member

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    Thank you for the suggestions.
    I followed them all and have much better results than before. Today's ride was very close to what I planned, and it felt like it.
    I have different routes now that contain sections that match my interval plans. Short hills for short intervals, long uninterrupted sections with mostly uphill grade for longer intervals, etc. There's even some rollers that give me 2 minutes on and 2 minutes off.

    Here's a somewhat related question.
    If I ride for 3 hours and within that ride there's 30 minutes or so of zone 4 effort, how does that equate to a specific targeted interval of 30 minutes at zone 4?
     
  10. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    A 30min effort at L4 intensity is completely different from 30 minutes cumulatively at L4 intensity during a multi-hour ride, and thus not at all comparable. For this reason, the power distribution chart by level in WKO+ is not very helpful as compared with a breakdown of a ride by level taking into account both intensity and duration. You can, however, use NP and duration to parse your ride file (and I do for L1-L4).
     
  11. egrocket

    egrocket New Member

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    I usually just try to hit my target heart rate. After that I go at a pace that will keep that constant heart rate. Sometimes this is hard, but after a few times of doing this I knew the pace to go at.
     
  12. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    You have a conceptual problem. (A lot of people have the same issue.) Perceived effort (or heart rate) to maintain a more or less constant power output increases over time. That is why is is easier to do intervals when fresh rather than tired.

    But that is not your only problem. You are looking at one part of your condition and not all the parts. Looking at your power output without considering your heart rate gives you no information about your overall condition.

    For example: Weather is going to be bad for the next week or so. So I will be riding my trainer rather than my road bike. I have a plan for these situations. I do 30 minutes each session. I "warm up" for the initial part and then do 110%FTP at the end. I start with the "end" being 5 minutes and increase it by 5 minutes each day. My goal is not the power output. My goal is to measure my heart rate and see how it compares to my heart rate the last time I did this type of training. (I do the same type of thing when I do my regular rides. There are sections I hold my power and compare my heart rate to previous times.)

    IF is a bunch of BS. Andy Coggan cannot even tell us what it is intended to measure.
     
  13. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    To add to RapDaddyo's answer... The beauty is that "valid segments" of any level aren't mutually exclusive. So if you manage say a good 20min @ Level 4 within a 120min ride @ L2, you've effectively worked both at Level 4 and at Level 2.

    In this regard, a good reporting/analysis tool should represent work using a tree view structure, similar as the folder structures in computing, where a folder is created in another folder. Following this analysis model, one could expect complex hierarchical relationships within, for instance, a nervous long group ride (e.g. One parent 4h long segment @ L2, in which you find 3 valid segments @ L3, in which you can find 5 efforts @ L5 varying in duration between 3 and 4.5min, containing some segments @ L6, etc).

    I can not think of any other valid or useful way to precisely quantify work done by level. I don't criticize the power distribution chart (wko/TP) but it has its limits.
     
  14. nhathuy

    nhathuy New Member

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    Here's the difference...heart rate reacts slow and smooth, power is instant and jumpy. I'm trying to smooth it out to remain within the training zone for the selected period of time. As I learn the perceived effort required to do 200 or 225 or 250 watts I'll be able to remain within that zone longer. I can always glance at the computer to eliminate any wishy washiness.














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