For the last while, though I’ve been trying to stay motivated and keep up with my training rides and push myself, I haven’t felt like I have a good sense of where my fitness is, or if it’s headed in the right direction quickly enough. Sure I feel like my training has improved my fitness but am I improving enough? Are my routines going to get me into the shape I need to be in, in time for the TRC? These were questions I couldn’t really answer myself so in an effort to get re-oriented, I searched out a professional fitness/cyclist trainer.

I went to see Kevin Masters at Aerobic Power Fitness Systems. Kevin is a seasoned Ironman competitor with extensive cycling knowledge. Last week, Kevin hooked me up to the Racer Mate compu-trainer and put me through my paces to assess my current fitness, and pedal stroke efficiency. If you’ve never had your pedal stroke analyzed, I highly recommend it; not only is it cool, but it’s really valuable knowledge for a cyclist.

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I found out that I had a pretty healthy misunderstanding of how good mine was. I always felt like I pedaled in a nice round circle, both pushing and pulling equally, and although I could do this for a while, I found out that most of the time I pedal more like a jackhammer… This of course is no good at all. Because the peak power in my pedal stroke is from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock my quads are overly strained and they burn out sooner than if I had a more evenly distributed power. Kevin pointed out that this is an area where I have a pretty big opportunity for improvement. As my pedal stroke improves my leg muscles will share the strain more evenly and I should see an increase in endurance, as well as a pick up in cadence speed.

In addition to pedal stroke analysis, the testing assessed my peak heart rate and from that I can now be confident in my target training zones. I really haven’t been pushed for a while and having Kevin standing next to me taking notes and driving me on did the trick. Three quarters of the way through the test I was seeing spots; good times and as it turned out, my max zone is higher than I previously thought. This is super valuable info to have now because my training sessions will be maximized and my fitness gains should come as quickly as my body will allow.

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Lastly was my peak and avg sustained wattage, which was measured by a Power Meter. Man-o-man! Do I wish I had one of these babies… Instead of tracking hrt rate, cadence, and calories burned to assess your workouts, the Power Meter gives you one number to focus on. I liked that a lot, and after the next couple months of training, when I go back to see Kevin to do the test again it will be the Power Meter that tells me by how much I’ve improved. I plan to kill it next go round!