Joe Friel on Training & Racing with a Power Meter

Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 3rd Ed. is the definitive, comprehensive guide to using a power meter. Armed with the revolutionary techniques from this guide, cyclists and triathletes can achieve lasting improvements and their best performances ever.

Foreword

In 1986, Uli Schoberer, a German engineering student and cyclist, invented the mobile cycling power meter—the Schoberer Rad Messtechnik, or SRM. Up until that time most cyclists relied almost exclusively on perceived exertion to gauge intensity during a ride. A few riders in the 1980s were also using heart rate monitors—another new invention that was only about ten years old. But the problem with heart rate was its slow response during short accelerations, which are common in cycling, and being affected by variables such as weather, mental stress, and diet. By the 1990s the SRM was growing in use among professional cyclists. But as they were more expensive than most bikes at the time there were few in use outside of the pro peloton. It wasn’t until the early 2000s as prices came down that power meters were widely adopted by serious recreational riders in a wide range of cycling sports.

Up until the invention and widespread use of the power meter, cycling was perhaps the least scientific of all endurance sports. While swimmers and runners in the 1970s and 1980s were taking tiny blood samples at the pool or track to determine changes in lactate levels at various paces, serious cyclists were primarily focused on volume—miles, kilometers, and hours. Weekly saddle time was the gold standard for determining progress. Why not speed? Wind, hills, and drafting made miles or kilometers per hour practically useless on the road.

Training & Racing with a Power Meter, 3rd Ed. TRPM3 by Hunter Allen cover blue cyclist 1200x630

Then along came the SRM and things began to change, albeit slowly. Now there are several companies making bicycle power meters and the prices have come down considerably since the 1990s. Road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes, track racers, and other riders at all levels of performance have found them to be a great way to measure training progress. Cycling has gone from one of the least scientific endurance sports to arguably the most scientific because of the power meter. Non-cycling sports such as rowing, competitive sailing, running, and others now are starting to use power meters.

I finally got my hands on a power meter in 1995. It was a loaner from SRM. As a poor coach I couldn’t afford to buy one. Uli was very kind to let me use it for three months. At the time I was writing my first book—The Cyclist’s Training Bible—and wanted to include something on this new technology. I wrote one page in the book on what I had learned about training and racing with power. As far as I know this was the first-ever description of how to train with a power meter. There wasn’t much to say because I didn’t know much.

In 1998 I got my second power meter. It was a prototype from a new start-up company called PowerTap. Instead of being in the chainring spider as with the SRM, PowerTap’s strain gauges were in the rear hub. The price was now much more manageable. I’ve been training and racing with power ever since.

By 1999 I was starting to understand quite a bit about how to use a power meter, or at least I thought so at the time. So that year I wrote a 32-page booklet called Training with Power. I would certainly not call it the definitive guide on how to train with power. It was just a small step in the right direction.

In 2006 Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, PhD, released their first edition of Training and Racing with a Power Meter. From one page to a book—my how things had changed in only ten years. They introduced then what has become the most widely accepted methodology for using a power meter in cycling. From my oversimplified single page on the topic in the mid-1990s they had come up with a system that revolutionized training and set a standard for other sports to aim for. And the amazing thing is that they are still innovating and changing how the world of cycling trains and races.

What you have here in your hands is the most complete and advanced book on power-based training ever written. It’s amazing to think that so much about how we ride a bike and prepare to race could come from a single data point—what your wattage is right now as you ride. My single page on the topic in the mid-1990s went no further than that. Coggan and Allen—along with Stephen McGregor, PhD—have taken that jewel of data and turned it into a unique training method that continues to evolve while revolutionizing how we train. Other endurance sports are observing and adopting what is so thoroughly explained in the following pages. Coggan, Allen, and McGregor are changing the world of competitive training.

On a more personal level, your training and racing will also improve as you come to understand and adopt the methodologies they describe in the following pages. It won’t be easy. Change never is. But if, like most serious athletes, you are always seeking more effective ways to raise your level of performance, then this book, used along with your power meter, will provide the guidance and direction you need.

—Joe Friel
Coach, Author, and Co-Founder of TrainingPeaks

Training and Racing with a Power Meter, 3rd Ed. is the definitive, comprehensive guide to using a power meter. Armed with the revolutionary techniques from this guide, cyclists and triathletes can achieve lasting improvements and their best performances ever.

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