How badly do we need technology when we train? For most triathletes and cyclists, information from various devices are part of the basic feedback we need to understand what our bodies are experiencing. Training is often structured around the technology (i.e, using power to establish effort on the bike, or pace for running efforts). Heart rate has been the most used information in my endurance career, but has now become a back up form of information (mostly for post training reviews). I have been using a SRM Power Meter for about 7 years now on my bikes and have established power zones for types or steady state riding and any type of high intensity intervals. I use the power meter to test my fitness and from those tests, I set new training zones. My GPS watch gives me similar feedback while running in the form of pace, and I use it on every run.
Until January 2010, that is. In the span of one week, my SRM broke and my GPS forgot how to pick up satellites. In just a few days, I went from seeing power numbers, estimating calorie usage, measuring training stress scores and seeing my pace to one thing: a stop watch. How distraught was I at that moment? Well, words were spoken and my heart rate certainly hit some new highs and I found myself wondering how I could even manage a simple training session without my technology.
Flash forward to mid February and I find myself running, cycling and swimming with decent regularity and the stop watch seems to give me enough feedback (keeping my 2.5hour run from becoming a death march I imagine). There are many people who don’t use power meters, GPS or even HR monitors and they can and do race at a high level. I can say, that my training was reasonable, and in some instances (running) I really enjoyed training in the dark ages, but I do think that the technology we have give us the information we can use to make better decisions and to ensure we do the work we plan and want to do.