Training With (virtual) Power – TrainerRoad

I recently finished the Tour of Sufferlandria which worked in conjunction with a pretty cool application called TrainerRoad. Now that I am starting down the road to Ironman Boulder, I wanted to talk about how useful TrainerRoad can be to your indoor cycling training.

The way TrainerRoad works is it uses the Ant stick that can talk to your Ant enabled bike devices. I use it with my Garmin speed/cadence sensor and heart rate strap. It will work with a variety of other Ant enable devices like a power meter if you have one. I don’t have a power meter so that is where TrainerRoad really does its magic. TrainerRoad will use the data it gets from your devices coupled with the type of bike trainer you are using and give you virtual power. Then, you can use one of the workouts in TrainerRoad to find your FTP (functional threshold power) and use that as the basis for all your workouts. It may sound complicated but it is really quite easy.

Now one of the reasons TrainerRoad works so great for training is because power is so much easier to train to instead of HR. Specifically, you can train immediately to power whereas heart rate is a lagging indicator. If you are doing short efforts at prescribed intensity levels, you can see the power output long before you can see the effort reflected in the heart rate data.

PowerHRGraphYou can see above that my HR doesn’t peak until well after I have done my 30 second interval. This was all achieved using TrainerRoad without a power meter. While you are riding TrainerRoad will display what percentage of your FTP you are riding. This way, if you coach tells you what zone to be in, you can easily use TrainerRoad to ride to the correct effort level. You can find information  about training zones just about anywhere. Below is the information I found on Joe Friel’s blog regarding zones.

Zone 1 <55% (active recovery)
Zone 2 56-75% of FTP (endurance)
Zone 3 76-90% of FTP (tempo)
Zone 4 91-105% of FTP (lactate threshold)
Zone 5 106-120% of FTP (VO2max)
Zone 6 121-150% of FTP (anaerobic capacity)
Zone 7 >150% of FTP (neuromuscular power)

TrianerRoad is a very cost effective way to use power if you don’t have a power meter. It costs $10/month or $99/year. They have a variety of workouts as well as amazing integration with Sufferfest workouts. TrainerRoad will make your time spent on a bike trainer more effective then training to rate of perceived exertion alone. If you have to use a trainer, you might as well do it right!

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