More watts equals better fitness, right?
Most people believe the above statement to be true. The higher the numbers you get to see on your wrist the better your fitness makes sense. But all this does is prove you can hurt yourself and make yourself suffer. If you run a 10km in 40 minutes and average 200 watts, this doesn’t mean much until you can run that same 10km in 39 minutes also at 200 watts or also in 40 minutes but only average 180 Watts. The first example proves you are now faster for the same amount of effort and the second proves you are more efficient, doing the same work for with less output. Maybe you could suffer for 10km at 210 watts. But maybe you only managed to suffer at 210 watts for 7km before blowing up and struggling home slowly for the next 3km, but by then who cares about the watts because you are moving so slow.
Power measured in watts is a tool to improve your performance, it’s not the performance itself.
The performance is how qwikly you can run the distance of the race. Training is what prepares you to run that race qwiker. Some training sessions you are trying to maximise your effort (or watts), in other sessions you are trying to enhance your efficiency.
As you fatigue during a race (or a training session), it’s likely that your form will deteriorate and your efficiency will decrease. Typically this is a decrease in the horizontal power and an increase in vertical & lateral power (see last weeks article for an explanation on the three dimensions of power).
You can see improvements in efficiency over time by monitoring your sessions.
- An increase in watts maintained for a duration;
- An increase in pace whilst maintaining the same wattage;
- A decrease in power output for a given pace; and/or
- A lower heart rate for a given power and pace.
This article is just a qwik summary measuring fitness with power. To find out more about running with power I recommend Jim Vance’s book Run With Power.
If you would like further advice feel free to contact me.
I am the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.
I specialise in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. I can be contacted at email@example.com and 021 348 729.
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