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.
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.
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!