Am I on the right track?

Cycling Tips
One of the most beautiful things about cycling is that everyone from young to old can improve. In other sports that involve more power and explosiveness, that’s a more difficult story. In addition to the physical part of cycling, you can improve a lot more. For example, you can improve on sleeping, nutrition, recovery, material, tactics or the mental part of cycling.
Some of this is easy to measure. For example, you can use an app to calculate your calorie intake and compare it with your calories burned using your power meter. It is also possible to use your mobile phone or smartwatch to keep track of your amount of sleep. By adding more regularity to your bedtime you can easily gain an hour’s sleep or even improve the quality of your sleep.
Keeping track of physical progress is a little more complicated. Of course there are plenty of programs to make nice graphs, but what exactly do you have to look at? And how do you see if you’re really making progress?

How to measure progress

First of all, we must ensure that progress can be measured objectively. But of course it is also very important to listen to your feeling that you are on the right track. Your feelings are especially important when you have been ill or feel exhausted. But for now, we are looking at ways that can objectively show your progress. You can do this by following a standardized protocol that tracks your progress. To chart your fitness precisely, you need to make it measurable, objective and reproducible. This way you can take the same measurement before and after a period of training and see your improvement.
You can do this by measuring your speed over the same lap and see if your average speed has improved. But of course weather conditions have a big influence on your speed. Especially the wind and air pressure have a lot of influence on this. For example, many recreational cyclists are in shape in summer with an average speed of 30 km/h on their fixed lap while they only average 28 km/h in winter. So speed is not the best way to measure your progress. But what do you have to measure then? Actually there is only one clear answer: power.
To really measure the progression of your endurance, you need to see how long you can hold a certain amount of power. A common way is to look at the maximum power you can hold for 20 minutes. To measure this you also need to make sure your test is standardized. So do the test under the same conditions, use the same power meter, do the same warm up and make sure you have taken as much rest as before the other tests. With this in mind, it is advisable to do this indoors on a home/smart trainer rather than outdoors where the weather is an unpredictable factor.
But is the value of just your 20 minutes of power the best way to determine your progress? That depends on your personal goals. If you want to climb a 15-40 minute climb as fast as possible, this value is very interesting. But if you’re training for a 200km ride with short climbs in it, this value is a lot less interesting. To get a wider picture of your fitness you can also do a standardized 1 and 5 minute tests. From these you can determine your ‘power profile’.

What is a power profile

A power profile is a graph or table that shows your best power for each time interval, often between 10 seconds and 3 hours. It shows the maximum power output over the last 3 months or best ever. Improvement of a power at a certain time interval shows your improvement quite simply. Determining a power profile is currently the most widely used way in cycling to map progress. But this method does not contain everything you want to know. Often it’s not about how fast you ride up one mountain, but how fast you ride up the fifth or maybe twentieth mountain. Deep in the finals of a race like the Tour of Flanders, the men’s boys get underscored. After 200 km of racing and endless climbs, someone’s power profile is less important, it’s all about the power you can pedal at that moment. From which rider has his power decreased the least during the race?
Let’s get this straight. First of all, make sure you have a goal to work towards so that you know what you want to improve. Next, it is important that you test yourself regularly. Please note that not every training will be a test. Test yourself with a standardized test, every 4 to 6 weeks is more than enough if you know you are on the right track. Last but certainly not least, look not only at your maximum power but also at the power you can still deliver in the last hour of a heavy training or competition.
With this basis you have sufficient knowledge to determine your goal and what is needed to achieve it. Make a plan and stick to it! If you don’t dare to do it on your own, a trainer can help you make a plan and a schedule so you have a stick behind the door. Take a look at our coaching possibilities: Individual coaching
Prefer training with some coaching or interested in a training plan? Cyclinglab helps you on your way. Contact us or download the JOIN Cycling application.