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Using Power Meters in Triathlon Training

Power meters have long been a key tool in cyclists training arsenals, providing more reliable feedback on the effort being put in by a cyclist than heart rate, speed, or perceived effort, all of which are influenced by variable factors (such as climate, road conditions, athletes well being etc.).

Conducting training intervals sets using power zones is probably the most effective way of producing improved performance within the cyclist yet to date few Triathletes have picked up on this technique due to a combination of ignorance of the practice, the cost of power meters and fear of data and analysis.

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Power meters have long been a key tool in cyclists training arsenals, providing more reliable feedback on the effort being put in by a cyclist than heart rate, speed, or perceived effort, all of which are influenced by variable factors (such as climate, road conditions, athletes well being etc.).

Conducting training intervals sets using power zones is probably the most effective way of producing improved performance within the cyclist yet to date few Triathletes have picked up on this technique due to a combination of ignorance of the practice, the cost of power meters and fear of data and analysis.

One of the coaches at the forefront of this technique is Hunter Allen and he has just released a new book on the subject “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” with his colleague Dr Andrew Coggan Phd.

 

In this article first article in a series to to featured on Trizone, Hunter looks at the fundamentals of what is a power meter, and why you should own one:

“What is a power meter?  You might have heard about these things and you can’t open a single cycling website or magazine now without seeing a pro cyclist and one on their bikes, but what is it, what does it do and why would I want one?

 
First off, a power meter is a measuring tool.  It measures the torsion(twisting) of a bicycle part that has been twisted as a result of your pedaling.  This can be measured in the ‘spider'(bit between the chain rings and the crank) , or in the hub, on the twisting of the chain itself and there is even a new company coming out with pedals that will measure your power.  

Power is torsion(twisting) multiplied by angular velocity and angular velocity in cycling is cadence or how fast you pedal.  Power is output in watts, and you probably have heard of cyclists referring to the wattages on a climb, in a race or even on TV.  So, when you hear that Lance Armstrong can hold 450 watts for an hour, then know that 450 watts is really, really hard to do for 5 minutes, much less an hour! The typical trained cyclist can average 250 watts for an hour, keep in mind that this is also dependent on weight, so a cyclist that weighs 115lbs(52kg) and produces 250 watts for an hour has a much higher power to weight ratio (4.8 watts per kilogram), than a rider that weighs 180lbs(81kg) for a power to weight ratio of  3.0 watts per kilogram. 

Power to weight ratio is king in cycling, so the amount of watts per kilogram of body weight that a cyclist can produce is incredibly important to their success.   Wattage is the measure of work that you can do on a bicycle and while heart rate can be used to measure intensity of effort, it is dependent on rest, hydration of the rider, outside heat and humidity and heart rate is a response mechanism to work.   Wattage is the ‘dose’ and heart rate is the ‘response’.   If you are or have been training with a heart rate monitor, then you are basing your training on a ‘response’.  But, what has been the cause of that response?  Why did your heart rate go to 150?   Was it because a dog just chased you?  Was it because you just did a hill sprint?  Was it because you are just hyped up and merely sitting on the start line ready for the race to begin?    Heart rate gives us some information, but does not tell us how much work you are doing and that’s what a power meter does. 

Here are some other key reasons that a power meter will help you improve your cycling!

1. Training with a power meter gives you a complete record of your effort.
It records your effort from a cardiovascular viewpoint (Heart rate), and from a muscular viewpoint (watts). Know how much time you’ve spent in your training zones while riding. Highlight areas of interest, intervals of data – hills, sprints, attacks for review by you, your coach or even your teammates!

2. Add real meaning to your heart rate monitoring.
Heart monitoring alone does not tell you how your actual performance is improving, it just tells you how fast your heart is pumping. A power meter measures your rate of work (power), and analyzes your efficiency by allowing you to compare heart rate data to power output to your cadence and finally to your speed.

3. Track your Fitness Changes.
Know with certainty if your fitness is improving and when you have reached a peak. Avoid overreaching and over training by tracking your Training Stress Score and Intensity Factor levels.

4. Analyze your Race!
Want a subjective viewpoint on your use of energy in the race? A power meter can help you better analyze your race. You can easily see when you burned a “match” and if you used too much energy in parts of the race that weren’t decisive. Did you make a tactical error in a race, but didn’t realize it? By looking back on the data, you can replay the race in your head and see exactly what it took to make the winning break or what it took to make the decisive split. If you got shelled, you can see where you need to focus your training!

5. Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
Do you get dropped when your cadence drops below 80rpm? Are you a Cat 1 in your 5 minute power, but Cat 4 in your 20 minute power? If you have to do 105% of your Threshold power for more than 3 minutes, will you get popped?

6. Improve your interaction with your Coach!
It brings you and your coach closer together! Your coach can then better use this data to improve your training plan. Your coach can instantly see what you are doing in races, training rides and make suggestions to further improvements. A power meter doesn’t lie!

7. Achieve your physical potential!
When you train with a power meter, it allows you to concentrate on the workload and provide that extra motivation to improve in your efforts. For example, if you are doing a 5 minute effort, and you are watching your Average watts drop near the end of the effort, you’ll pick it up just another notch in order to achieve your 5 minute wattage goal.

8. Test your position and aerodynamics.
Your body position is the single greatest factor in determining your speed while riding at a specific power output. Why risk the disadvantage of a poor position when you can measure your aerodynamics and discover your fastest position!

9. Pacing of efforts.
It allows you to pace your effort better in all of your interval workouts, hill climbs and time trials. When you know your threshold power, you can hold to it like glue in a time trial or hill climb, so you will know that you went as hard as you could possibly go.

10. Mobile Testing Lab!
A power meter allows you to test on a monthly basis, so you can quantitatively see what areas you have improved on and what still needs work. Training is testing, Testing is training.

11. Record your training data every few seconds.
It’s the true diary of your every ride! You will know what you were doing almost every second of the ride!

12. Enhance your indoor training.
Use your indoor trainer to the fullest extent! Highly focus your intervals in just the exact wattage zone for optimal improvement.

13. Coordinate your sports nutrition for best performance.
Knowing how much work (in kJ) you do in training allows you to plan your post-exercise meals to the kcal. You will recover faster and be able to train harder sooner.

14. PLAN, CONTROL AND EXECUTE your training like the pros.
 Train efficiently so that your best fitness peaks at your goal events. Every top cycling performance has been aided by the use of power meter training technology Tour de France winners, Hour records, Track records, HPV records.

Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former Professional Cyclist. He is the co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and is the CEO and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group. He has coached over 500 athletes ranging from professionals to fitness enthusiasts, and has helped many athletes achieve dreams and goals that they didn’t think were possible.  He specializes in coaching cyclists with wattage meters and is on the forefront coaching with cycling’s newest tool.   He has online training programs available at www.TrainingPeaks.com/hunter   and you can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com

 

 

 

Articles on training-related topics represent the personal opinions of the author based on their own experience and research. trizone.com.au provides these for your review and consideration, but does not endorse any particular recommendations of the authors.

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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HUUB release third version of Aegis wetsuits

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Explicitly designed for triathletes, the Aegis /// is perfect for the beginner to the serious or expert triathlete who want both comfort and performance on race day.

The Aegis was HUUB’s first mid-range wetsuit family to take inspiration and key features from the brands’ top-end names such as Aerious and Archimedes, making it a best seller, always offering both performance and value for money, and therefore commanding the market at that price point.

HUUB’s founder and owner Dean Jackson, commented, “The Aegis family of suits offer much more than the price would suggest, with features descending from our flagship Archimedes it has created a price point defining suit that delivers more than expectations.” 

So what do you get for the Aegis///’s price tag of £299.99? The brands exclusive X-O Skeleton™ for exceptional alignment and stroke efficiency, superior panel patterns offer Rotational Freedom™ and ease of stroke, plus a Breakawy Zipper™ delivering the fastest transition. The wetsuit provides you with HUUB’s exclusive buoyancy levels of 3:5 for men and 3:3 for women. A sleeveless version is also available.  

Explicitly designed for triathletes, the Aegis /// is perfect for the beginner to the serious or expert triathlete who want both comfort and performance on race day.

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Review: SunGod PaceBreaker sunglasses – Look Cool While Dropping Watt Bombs

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SunGod sunglasses are a relatively new player to the market, a successful, UK based, crowd-funded business who’s appeal is focused on the ability to customise the glasses online at an affordable price.

SunGod was founded in 2013 and developed from a frustration that to get quality lenses that would be able to withstand a sports/adventure lifestyle.

They launched their first product, SunGod Classic, as their first complete custom online build, with polycarbonate polarised lenses and TR90 memory polymer frames. This campaign exploded, with SunGods being shipped to 93 countries and making 10x the initial funding target and becoming the largest crowdfunded project of its kind in the UK.

Simple to use interface, customise away.

Jumping on to the website is simple enough, and you get to choose from a variety of frames and styles. The Classics and Renegades focus more on traditional streetwear, extreme sports etc., while the Revolts are focused on snow sports. All of the range bears the funky looking Limited editions, are fully customizable.  As triathletes wouldn’t be seen dead wearing non-race specific gear, we’re going to focus the review on the PaceBreakers – wraparounds focused on riding and running (swimming not tested!)

What design do you ask?

I was lucky enough to get to design a pair of sunglasses via the simple to understand interface. Simple enough in fact that my five-year-old daughter created my first pair below.

From idea….

To reality…!

Going through the interface, you get to choose the frame colour, lens type (4KO Polarised or not – more on that later), icons on the side and ear sock colour (the tips of your glasses). If your creativity is failing you, you can also choose from a set series of best sellers.

The whole process takes around 30 seconds of effort with 20 minutes of procrastination around the right colours to match with your complexion and handbag.

My second pair was a much more straightforward affair focusing on the traditional grey look.

Got to have grey in Melbourne.

The glasses ship from the UK and for me, turned up in 3 days, a surprising and welcome change.

What’s in the box?

SunGod indeed go above and beyond with the packaging and its contents

Funky looking box

As you would expect you get a box with the sunglasses included, but you also get a spare nose clip, a case which also doubles as a cleaning rag and a truckload of stickers to stick around the place. Its quite a few freebies given the low cost of the product.

Quite the haul

4KO pace lens with triple scratch resistance

SunGod claims that the polarised lens is both triple scratch resistant and will enhance both visibility and field of view in both low light and bright conditions. We obviously couldn’t test them in a lab with serious equipment, but we took the glasses out on a treacherous, wet and windy early morning Melbourne ride around the Dandenong mountains in peak hour traffic.

Compared to my Jawbreakers I certainly felt that their visibility in early morning sun up (6am) conditions was improved.  The lens also survived being bounced along the road at high speed when I forgot to put them back on during a decent, with no scratches if I may add.  So science aside, these sunglasses certainly did the job during a challenging day out.

What differentiates SunGod from the competition

SunGod has a few key differentiated points.

Firstly is the price. For around $110 – $130 dollars you get a solid pair of high-performance sunglasses with features to match and outperform glasses twice their price.

The glasses come with a lifetime warranty so if they break they will replace them free of charge. A lofty claim that I haven’t tested but certainly a welcome one – which some of the major players struggle to offer.

The glasses are made from adventure proof flexible rubber which allows the frames to be flexed, and as above bounced along the road, without damage. Which as a clumsy guy is a great feature.

Overall

Simply put, SunGod makes a great pair of sunglasses, both comfortable and high performing, you cannot beat them for value. The customisation feature is excellent and has got my triathlon team all lining up to get the team colours shipped over. I didn’t have anything negative to say about them, to the point where I’m replacing my tried and trusted jawbreakers with these for both racing and training.

Here is a link to the PaceBreakers

  • Price
  • Features
  • Durability
  • Overall

Summary

Simply a great set of sunglasses and are packed with features and value.

Pros
- Well priced
- Great feature set
- Customisable

Cons
- Carbon (Triathlete staple) look frame appears out of stock
- Were clutching at straws to find anything wrong aren't we!

5.0
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A Wearable RFID Fitness & Calorie Tracker that Mounts to Your Teeth

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Fitness and calorie monitoring technology is getting interesting. Researchers at the Tufts University Biomedical Engineering Department are experimenting with wearable trackers that mount to your teeth. The tiny monitors use Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology to track calories, alcohol consumption, multiple types of sugar, and the foods you eat. The researchers also speculate about developing the devices to monitor stress levels from saliva.

The trackers use a square tooth-mounted sensor that is either 4 X 4 or 2 X 2 millimetres. They’re made of titanium and gold and feature detector layers made of either water-based gel or silk fibres.

When testing for the trackers’ ability to detect alcohol and sugar, researchers instructed subjects to swish various liquids. The trackers sent accurate information to tablets and cellphones, distinguishing between liquids such as saliva, water, and alcohols, as well as different types of sugars and their concentrations. Using water-based gel sensors, they were able to track varying temperatures and acidity levels.

These trackers could be a new breakthrough in calorie and fitness tracking. They are not yet available commercially because the researchers are still working out a few kinks and discovering more uses for them.

The Tufts study will be published in the journal, Advanced Materials. For now, you can read it in the Wiley Library below. The paper goes into detail about all the possible uses and the chemicals and nutrients these trackers will likely be able to detect.

Tuft’s Study: Functional, RF‐Trilayer Sensors for Tooth‐Mounted, Wireless Monitoring of the Oral Cavity and Food Consumption

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Shimano Introduces Chain Stabilising Rear Derailleur for Road Bikes

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As road bike riding diversifies towards multiple road surfaces such as adventure and off-road riding Shimano introduces Ultegra RX, an off-shoot of Ultegra, with a rear clutch derailleur (RD-RX800/RX805) for mechanical and Di2 drivetrains.

Riders have been pushing the limits of what a road bike is capable of riding for many years, evolving the sport from racing to encompass greater adventure. In recent years we’ve seen a broader definition of what a drop handlebar bike can look like; road wheels followed that by accommodating wider tyres. Now in a natural evolutionary step, it’s time for drivetrains to evolve too.

Shimano RD-RX805 rear derailleur with clutch

The new RX800/805 rear derailleurs share many characteristics with the Ultegra R8000/R8050 derailleur, such as precise accurate shifting and SHIMANO SHADOW RD derailleur positioning, but with the added chain stabilizing switch (known as SHIMANO SHADOW RD+ technology) to control the drivetrain over rough/uneven ground or off-road surfaces. Much like Shimano’s MTB derailleurs, the On/Off switch can be found next to the upper pulley. When activated the rear derailleur pivot takes a firm hold to reduce excessive movement, noise and general ‘chain chatter’.

The RX800/RX805 rear derailleurs are compatible with road dual control levers (mechanical or Di2) and will accommodate cassettes with low gears from 28T to 34T, making them a very necessary addition for all types of adventure and off-road riding including cyclocross and compact styles with 46T-36T up to 50T-34T chainrings.

Alongside the Ultegra RX rear derailleur comes a new wider rim 700c, E-Thru axle, tubeless-ready, disc-specific, WH-RS370-TL aluminium wheelset for 28-38c tyres (weight 1900/pair).

You can expect the new components to be available in stores from mid-June 2018 onwards.

 

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Shimano 105 R7000 Offers Race-inspired Performance for Greater Riding Styles

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Today’s road riders demand much more than pure on-the-rivet speed. They expect comfort, control and versatility from their bikes, and enjoyment and goal achievement to boot. 105 level riders expect the latest pro-level features but they also want to do more with their bike than racing and training.  So step forward the new 105 R7000 generation with customizable disc or rim brakes and wider cassette options to help you remain in comfort and control wherever you’re riding.

Coming with the high-end aesthetic and race characteristics of its Dura-Ace and Ultegra big brothers, the new 105 series also considers that most riders will use their bikes for purposes other than competitive racing. 105 is Shimano’s first level 11-speed groupset for those who are seriously committed to road bike riding, but that definition now becomes broader with the inclusion of superior handling and adaptable control to master different riding situations.

The biggest news for new 105 is the addition of disc brakes to the series line up. New flat-mount BR-R7070 callipers are compatible with ICE TECHNOLOGIES pads and UCI-compliant non-90 degree SM-RT70 rotors (including a new 140mm size) to offer greater cooling efficiencies. Brake operation is handled by new ergonomically shaped Hydraulic dual control levers (ST-R7020), matching the design of Ultegra ST-R8020 levers with a greater range of reach adjustment for different hand sizes. To provide even greater customisability, 105 R7000 offers a version of the dual control brake/gear lever (ST-R7025) to better suit smaller hands by being angled closer to the bar and taking more of an outboard position for better connection and to avoid interference with the handlebar drop during lever operation.

Whether from the rim brake (ST-R7000) or disc brake (ST-R7020/25) lever, gear shifts have been redesigned to offer faster and lighter shifts with a shorter stroke compared to the 105 5800 series. The front derailleur has a compact toggle (pivot) design, better tyre clearance and an integrated cable tension adjustment port (2-mm hex key) removing the need for an in-cable barrel adjuster. The optional long cage rear derailleur (RD-R7000-GS) can accommodate up to an 11-34T cassette and is designed with a low profile SHIMANO SHADOW RD style to tuck it below the cassette and chainstay.

Updates within the drivetrain include a new mid-compact 52-36T crankset, to add to the 50-34T and 53-39T cranksets, and new 11-30 (CS-R7000) and 10-speed compatible 11-34 cassette (CS-HG700-11) options to better suit gravel, adventure or CX riding. Together with this, the inner crank ring has been positioned to reduce the effects of cross chaining or chain drop, better suiting bikes with disc brake criterium racing bikes.

Tim Gerrits, product manager at Shimano Europe said;

“Increased control and reaction were two points we concentrated developments on, combined with what people have always expected from 105, great versatility and value for riders. With 105’s suitability for a large portion of today’s diverse road bike styles we hope to unlock the potential of where and what it’s possible to ride on a road bike.”

New Shimano 105 R7000 items will be available on the market around June and will be available in an appealing dual tone black colourway and an additional silver option for more classic bike styles.

 

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Ventum is expanding its line of cutting-edge triathlon racing bicycles

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Built around the company’s patented Z-shaped frame design, which eliminates the downtube and seat stays while integrating the water bottle into the frame, the expanded Ventum Z line was developed to allow more triathletes to enjoy the aerodynamic advantages of Ventum technology.

“We designed our flagship triathlon bike, the Ventum One, for the toughest races in the sport,” Ventum co-founder Diaa Nour said, “and we based the new Ventum Z models on feedback from triathletes, who told us they want access to the same technology developed for the Ventum One, but with more flexibility to customize the bicycle to fit their needs.”

The new Ventum Z includes Ventum’s patented Z frame plus a proprietary carbon-fibre Z fork and is available for purchase as a standalone frameset for $2,850. The Ventum Z is also available as a complete bicycle with a mechanical component group featuring a combination of Dura Ace, Ultegra, and other Shimano components for $3,500, and as a complete bicycle with Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 component group for $5,500.

“We wind-tunnel and road-tested every component of every version of the Ventum Z to find the perfect balance between aerodynamics, comfort, and cost. Our goal in reimagining the Ventum Z was to make a more affordable ‘superbike’, and to keep it cutting-edge without cutting corners,” Nour said. “To do that, we developed our new, proprietary Z fork, we included a custom set of 3T Vola aero bars for easy positioning and adjustment, and we are offering a choice of carbon-fibre or alloy wheels that are optimal for the bike.”

Ventum was co-founded in 2014 by Diaa Nour and former professional triathlete Jimmy Seear, to build the world’s fastest racing bicycles. Inspired by fighter jets and Formula One race cars, the company’s triathlon bicycles feature a revolutionary frame design that maximizes aerodynamic performance in non-draft-legal races such as IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 triathlons. Ventum also served as the Official Bike Sponsor of the 2016 and 2017 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Based in Miami Beach, Florida, Ventum bicycles are available worldwide through the company’s dealer network and from the Ventum online store.

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