If you want to improve and I know now that you do, then it’s time to measure your current performance levels and record a baseline that can reliably be used to track your improvements against as the season progresses. This means performance testing!
Many of you I know really struggle with doing early season performance tests because there’s the lingering fear that you’re not going to like what you see. This is often as a result of us not having given ourselves time for adequate recovery and therefore we can’t motivate ourselves to perform at a high intensity level. However this year will be different, you’ve done the right thing and are raring to go.
I’m quite often asked if to perform fitness tests you should use heart rate and power meters for all tests. The answer is unequivocally yes if you are able to do so. Using both heart rate and power meters for testing and training will ensure that you can track the increases in power output and decreases in your heart rate as training progresses. This is the holy grail of any endurance training programme, having the ability to deliver more (power) for less cost (heart rate).
Testing and training with a power meter & heart rate monitor will not only give you a current performance baseline, but also allows you to set trustworthy (so long as tests are conducted correctly) training zones. This is where using both types of measuring system really comes into it’s own and using a combination of Heart Rate (HR) and Power (PR) zones will ensure that your hard earned training time is spent developing the areas of your physiology specific to the needs of your event.
Without testing we are riding and training in the areas we think are about right but the reality is that only with training zones of both types can you be sure you’re getting maximum bang for your buck during those much sought out training hours. Trust me, make the valuable time you have for training count, you’ll not regret it in the longer term.