LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- GPS-watches, bike computers, heart rate monitors, and power meters
- Advanced metrics (e.g. left/right balance, ground contact time, torque effectiveness...)
- Training planning and logging systems (Training Peaks, Today's Plan, Excel, pen and paper...)
- Heart Rate Variability, sleep tracking, and recovery monitoring
- Performance testing (lactate, VO2max, INSCYD...)
- Aerodynamic sensors for cycling
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- This podcast episode is an interview with Mikael Eriksson (who for this time has switched seat from being the host to being the guest!) on the podcast ”Endurance Innovation”, hosted by Michael Liberzon and Andrew Buckrell.
In this episode of ”Endurance Innovation”, the two hosts of the podcast discuss pros and cons of all sorts of technology related to endurance sports together with our dear Mikael.
How much has technology influenced the progress in sports during the last decades?
- I definitely think that technology in many ways have played an important impact on the great progress many sports (such as for instance marathon running) has seen in the last decades.
Primarily I think that coaches have been the ones to benefit the most from the technical development since the tools to analyze workouts have improved so much.
This has then been transformed to the athletes and performance as coaches have been able to make more informed decisions.
- Also, the technical development has also made it easier to do research of higher quality, which has increased the overall knowledge, in turning leading to improved performance.
Even the combined experience from technical aspects of training (such as for instance power numbers etc.) over many years among the top coaches has probably increased the knowledge, and consequently yielding better performances.
- On the other hand, technology could also in some cases ”steal” the focus from what’s really important, so it’s not given that everything related to the technical development in sports is something good or beneficial.
The most important/beneficial technological innovations in sports
- In my opinion, I think that the most important and benefical tools for triathlon are the power meter and bike computer for the bike, pace clock for the run and HR monitor for the bike and run.
These three devices are really helpful, mainly in training for analyzing progress, shape, fatigue etc. but also in some cases for racing.
However, it is important to be able to pace oneself during a race without power meters or pace clocks, since these things could break or ran out of battery.
- The STRYD power meter for running is another technical tool that I also would highly recommend since the running distance is more accurate from the STRYD power meter and is also less vulnerable to GPS signal drops (for instance in tunnels and in some cases during trails runs as well).
- When it comes to additional metrics associated with the data that one receives from these devices such as power left-right balance, torque smoothness, ground contact time during running, etc. etc., I don’t think these metrics have any place in terms of actual benefit once could withdraw from looking at these parameters.
The main thing is to really try to learn and understand power itself or HR alone (i.e. the basics) really, really well, that has the potential to really be beneficial!
Recording and tracking systems
- I think that some kind of training diary, where you can keep track of your training, is something that everyone who has some kind of goal with the training should have.
In these days, it is really convenient to utilize any of the online training platforms such as Garmin connect or Trainingpeaks, where your workouts upload automatically and you can then add a subjective comment to the workout, which is a very important complement to the objective metrics (power, pace, HR) of the session.
- For self-coach athletes, I think that really advanced analytic tools such as for instance WKO+ is not to be recommended since these programs are too complicated and has the potential of stealing focus from what is really important, namely power, pace and HR (in conjunction with subjective feedback!).
- HRV is an interesting metrics of current and chronic level of fatigue, in my opinion it is good but the results should be interpreted with a bit of caution.
If the parameter should be implemented, then it must be interpreted together with other things such as overall feeling, then it becomes a parameter that could form a base for certain decisions.
One should point out that HRV also measures resting HR, which in some studies have shown an even stronger collaboration with fatigue level and grade of over training etc.
- In terms of apps like sleep tracker and live HRV measurement, I don’t think they have any place or practical applications whatsoever.
- When it comes to certain metrics that Garmin devices give to their uses such as recovery time or VO2max, these metrics lack any kind of accuracy and should just be totally ignored.
- For more serious amateur athletes, I think that some sort of metabolic testing, such as the INSCYD test (but it could basically be any kind of test were blood lactate is taken and/or VO2max is measured).
I would not recommend athletes to buy a lactate measurement device and do the test on their own since it is really hard to test oneself.
- Before one book an appointment with a lab that offers lactate and/or VO2max tests, one should always ask how long each levels of the ramped lactate threshold test is, since it is very important that it is not supposed to be shorter than 4mins (which some people would argue is still on the shorter side), 5mins is the preferred duration for a graded incremental test.
- Another aspect to consider is repeatability, one should aim to perform the tests at the same facility or do the INSCYD test, which you can do at home with your own power meter.
I really would recommend the INSCYD test since it gives you a good picture of your strengths and weaknesses, however, one should say that I offer these tests and is hence somewhat biased.
- I do not have any personal experience with the aero sensors but from what I have understood, the on bike sensors are a bit overkill for most age group athletes at the moment.
However, I think that aero testing, such as regular field tests, virtual wind tunnel software or velodrome tests, could be really beneficial for many people.
Something as simple as getting a really good bike fit with someone with a little bit of aerodynamic knowledge could also tweak your position into something that is actually really good from an aerodynamic standpoint just by ”eye balling” you.
Also, simple tips like ”keep your head down” could probably be worth more watts than a wind tunnel test could ever get you.
- Getting a GoPro camera, which enables you to film underwater could be a really worthwhile investment as it makes it possible to study your swim technique from all important angles.
The video clips can then be sent to a swim technique coach who can make an analysis of your swimming.
I would really recommend to utilize some of the really well-known swim technique analysts out there as their knowledge is really something special and definitely worth the extra cost!
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- Endurance Innovation Podcast
- Endurance Innovation 67 – Mikael Eriksson on the value and pitfalls of devices
- Endurance Innovation 25 – Mikael Eriksson on frequency vs duration
- Endurance Innovation 08 – Mikael Eriksson
- That Triathlon Show (flipping the mic) with Michael Liberzon, Andrew Buckrell and Mikael Eriksson | EP#194