Lots of us triathletes and cyclists like some numbers to tell us how we’re performing – there’s nothing like a bit of hard data right!  They can be a great help to keep us on track, help us to train effectively and tell us how fit (or not) we are.

But numbers on their own can be very unhelpful and need to be used intelligently.

For example average speed on the bike tells you nothing about the weather and the terrain.

Average power tells you nothing about the surges you put in going up each hill or the intervals you did during a training session

Finish time tells you nothing about how hard you actually tried and how much effort you put in.

Recently I’ve been that person that’s been disappointed with my finish time at a 10m TT. But when I reviewed the numbers in combination with my power output it turns out that I worked my socks off and it was just a windy day on a slow course.

I raced a different course of the same distance and had the same average power but finished 3 minutes faster.

It useful to use more than one number to help you analyse your performance and to understand the pro’s and con’s of each number. For example

During a time trial use power or heart AND average speed to help you stay on track.

After your ride have a look at various numbers to analyse your ride. For example:

  • What was your average power/heart rate?
  • How much time did you spend in different training zones?
  • How was your pacing?
  • How much climbing was there on the course?
  • What was the weather like?