WAHOO'ING / ZWIFTING / POWER NUMBERS + CYCLING OH MY
by Kristin Mayer·
I think I owe some people an apology......
Winter base training started this month and I am thinking ahead to the goals I set for 2017. It’s already turning out to be an interesting year. Interesting in the sense that some of the things that I thought I knew about riding a bike and bike training are getting turned on their head AND at the same time, at almost 50 years old, I am somehow getting faster on the bike than I have ever been.
This story actually started at the end of last year when I purchased a Wahoo Kickr trainer. I was always one of those athletes that loved a good trainer workout. Nothing beats it for efficiency. This trainer feels so much smoother than any trainer I used in the past and the introduction of power into my training is kind of sort of blowing me away – which is also why I need to apologize to some (maybe a lot?) of people.
In the past I was happy with my training but I was not into metrics. When I started racing WAY back in the mid 90’s I did an annual run and cycling test to set up my target heart rate zones for workouts. My coach, Roch Frey (who taught me how to push myself over the years amongst other things) wrote my triathlon training plans for 13+ years. When we started I trained with heart rate as that was the only metric I agreed to use. Once my son was born in 2002 and I returned to racing, truth be told, I abandoned all metrics and pretty much went “by feel”. That approach was probably not ideal but that approach made training and racing the most enjoyable for me. I found when I focused too much on the numbers my performances actually declined. Now that I no longer race, and am older + wiser, looking at numbers makes more sense for me. Especially when it comes to bike riding. This way my hubby can tolerate riding with me. He can dial in his numbers and we know how hard I can push for the duration to keep up. I’ve also found the numbers to be very motivating when sitting on my Wahoo Kickr going for it in wee hours of the morning.
To make a long story short, training with power opened my eyes to a few things. First, I don’t suck (as bad) on the bike like I thought I did. Now I know I can actually push more than 100 watts hahaha. Second, I understand power to weight and why I can climb hills even though I am not putting out as many watts as the next person. Third, I was going too easy during my trainer workouts and, conversely, too hard during some of my road rides. Fourth, I understand the relationship between power and cadence which is something I missed for years. Fifth, and most important, I am learning how to pace long efforts on hills without blowing up and now I know just how hard I can go without imploding. Sixth, I am learning how small tweaks in my position (especially while climbing) translate into power output. All in all, training with power has finally allowed me to better learn to ride a bike and I am faster than I have ever been on the bike. Bottom line. I get it and I apologize to anyone I may have criticized for focusing on their numbers in the past.
Training with power was just the start of my “geekery”. Another huge part of the equation was that I started doing Arnie Baker’s HIT program. My hubby turned me onto his trainer workouts. Here in San Diego, Dr. Arnie Baker is a living legend. Although I only met him once, when you talk with people who trained with him they talk about him like he is either Yoda, Ghandi, Richard Fenyman or a magical combination of the three. Doing his trainer workouts I can see a little bit why. Long story short, these workouts will smash you, teach you skills you can take on the road to make you a better rider, and because you are doing so many things in each workout, they are anything but monotonous. Additionally, because each step in the workout is described by power, cadence, and heart rate there is no question about what you should or should not be doing. Given everything I have going on and knowing my limitations, I actually am not doing the full HIT program. I only do one trainer workout a week. I think 2 would put me over the edge.
The other world that my Wahoo Kickr trainer opened up for me is Zwift. The thought of playing video games in my garage is a thought that a few months ago seemed ridiculous. Nonetheless, I often find myself staring at avatars when I don’t have the time to get out on the road. Actually, in some cases, I do a Zwift workout even if I do have time to go on the road. Climbing hills in Watopia is a better workout than I can get in the real world in a short amount of time. I am not going to say much more about Zwift right now because my geek-o-meter is screaming red and I am not sure I can even admit to myself that I am recommending this BUT you gotta get on this thing. Before you ask, I already contacted the Zwift folks. Right now, we can’t get a Betty jersey created as an option, but I’m not giving up. That, however, doesn’t stop us from organizing a Betty ride which is in the works. You can also follow me and come ride with me. I am Kristin Mayer (K. Mayer) in the Zwift world.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my objects of my desire that are making my life on the trainer a fantastic experience. The most rad bike I have ever ridden—the Trek Madone , Jaybird headphones (paired with my favorite techno-pop) Gatorade Endurance in my bottles + my Suunto Spartan Ultra for watching how fast I can get my little hummingbird heart to pump.