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!

TrainerRoad Challenge Time!!!

Sorry I have been quiet lately but life has been busy.  I hope to blog more this week to fill you in.  But in the mean time, I just heard that TrainerRoad is doing an 8 day challenge in honor of the Amgen Tour of California.  This is a great opportunity to jump start your cycling fitness while virtually working out with hundreds (hopefully thousands) of people. Head on over to TrainerRoad and check it out.  Leave a comment on this post and I will enter you in a drawing to win a month of Training from TrainerRoad.  Winner announced Saturday May 3, 2014!

Bike Progress – FTP Testing with TrainerRoad – GIVE AWAY!!!


Back in January I started using TrainerRoad for all my cycling training workouts.  If you are unfamiliar with TrainerRoad you should click here to visit their website and here to read Stuart’s post about how to set it up. It is a great service and if you do any indoor cycling training it is totally worth it! In Janury before I did the Tour of Sufferlandria I did an FTP test using Trainer Road and The Sufferfest video, Rubber Glove.  Your FTP is your Functional Threshold Power/Performance, the maximum sustained effort you can maintain for over an hour (click here for some great info from The Sufferfest on FTP and using Rubber Glove). The more fit you are the higher the number is.  TrainerRoad uses my Garmin data to give me virtual power.  If you have a power meter you would use that (I don’t have one yet but I am thing that it might be REALLY nice to get one for Ironman Arizona). Anyway, I needed to test my FTP because my rides on TrainerRoad have been feeling a little easy lately and it has been about 6 weeks since I tested last. Result, I am getting fitter!  My FTP went up 15 watts and my LTHR (the HR I am at when I am at my lactate threshold) went down!!!  (see TrainerRoad data here)  I am really pleased with my training right now.  I have made improvements in all three disciplines! Things are going well!

Now I would like to share my love of TrainerRoad with you.  Because I am a TrainerRoad Ambassador I have month trial of TrainerRoad to give away.  If you would like this I need you to do a couple of things. You get an entry for each one.

  1. Like TrainerRoad on their Facebook page
  2. Tweet the following “I want to win a month of @TrainerRoad from @TriBeccaTO blog!”
  3. Leave a comment on my blog telling me you did all three

It is just that easy!

Alphabet Soup


Graph borrowed from Graeme Stewart

Now a day’s our lives are full of acronyms. I have acronyms for work, for my kid’s school, for my kid’s games, and of course my exercise.  You will constantly hear or read about FTP and LTHR and HR etc when reading anything on training for endurance sports.  Well I just found a new one, TSS, Training Stress Score.  I have a feeling that this is nothing new to many of you. I had not seen it until I started using Training Peaks to log my training for my coach and TranierRoad for doing my turbo trainer workouts.

Here is the definition from TrainerRoad on TSS:

“TSS is the amount of training stress generated from a workout. The higher this number the more potential fitness you earned from a workout.

To gain the most fitness, you want to earn the most TSS possible.  All of the workouts on TrainerRoad have a TSS score on them.  This means that if you were to ride the workout exactly like it is prescribed you would earn that amount of TSS”

If you were to do an hour at your FTP (the average maximum power you can sustain for 1 hour) you would earn a TSS of 100.  (read here for more)

I think the cool thing about TSS that you don’t get from any of the other measurements (besides time and distance) is that it is a cumulative measurement related to effort.  You get more and more TSS the more you workout each week and the harder you workout, the bigger the TSS. What is cool is even doing easy workouts will still get you TSS.  I think it will give me a more normalized number to compare training week-over-week other than time or distance.

Luckily Training Peaks gives me a TSS for all my activities including swimming.  I may need to analyze TSS from Training Peaks by discipline because the running TSS look really high.  I am excited to add this metric into my analysis of my training.

Link to blog from which I borrowed the graph is here.  He has more data on this topic that involves much more math than I did!

TrainerRoad – Free Ride baby!

I have recently started working with a coach and I am very excited about it; and now that I have adopted TrainerRoad I am eager to see how I can combine both things to get the most out of my training.  This morning was my first ride from my coach.  I used the 60 min free ride in TrainerRoad to capture it.  See image below and the details here.

FreeRideWhat I liked about using the free ride option in TrainerRoad was as I was doing the prescribed workout from my coach, I could see what % of my FTP I was working at.  Once I was done with my workout I got a great graph that shows all aspects of the ride in a perfect summary.  Easy to use and pretty effective!

The 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria


The Tour is over… 😦

For 9 days I joined about 1600 other riders from all over the world as we completed the Tour of Sufferlandria.  It was a virtual tour that was done on our bike trainers in our own homes; but what was surprising was just how much we felt like we were doing it together.  The premise behind The Sufferfests is that you will become a better cyclist through pain and suffering on the bike.  While that may be true, in reality it is a really fun way to kick your own ass so you can beat others!  Usually I dread my trainer time but since my recent adoption of TrainerRoad and this tour, I have found a new passion for my trainer time.  Of course it also helped that except for 2 rides, Stuart and I did all the stages together.  He has done a much better write up of each stage on his blog and the recaps on The Sufferfest website are awesome.

Total miles ridden were just under 200 miles  in almost 13 hours (I had to do Rubber Glove twice)