Season end MSPO test
Earlier this year I did an MSPO (maximum sustainable Power output) test based on a protocol in Dave Morris' book.
MSPO test January 2005
I retested today following the same protocol. The only differences were different tires (though same pressure) and a different bike fit. I know the bike fit has upped my power output some.
Also note that there are some accuracy issues with the Tacx trainer as noted here Tacx Flow review. But the trainer is pretty repeatable which is more important than accuracy in my application. Also note that the actual #s do not correlate over to the real world. The test would have to be done on a computrainer with Power Tap or SRM to correlate more for comparison purposes. And here is a great tool for comparing yourself to Lance.
Power Profiling instructions
Power profiling spreadsheet.
Anyway the protocol I followed was to set the Tacx at 210W in the ergo mode after warming up. Every 3 minutes I upped it by 20W until I was at a spot that I felt could be maintained for an hour. from last year that spot was 270W. This year I went to 290.
Once at the estimated sustainable Power heart rate/power was noted. I then measured Heart Rate after 3 minutes. And then measured heart rate every minute for another 3 minutes. If HR has increased by more than 8bpm between minute 6 and minute 3 than you've probably overshoot mspo.
At minute 6 I was still under the 8bpm so then I upped the trainer to 300W. HR started to creep up at 1min and 2 mins and I knew I was going to blow so ended it there.
Whether I could have held that 290 for an hour is debatable. It was fairly hard. But my HR was staying steady in that area. 185-188bpm. That is pretty high relatively, but I seem to be able to stay in that area for a while.
But when I did the test earlier in the year the perceived exertion was similar.
20W difference. 7% increase. I might have been able to hold 5 more watts, so call it 7-10% improvement that is pretty good I'd say.
A good goal to shoot for that is quantifiable.
So this will be my new benchmark for next year.
So what does all this have to do with racing? Well research has shown that one of the best indicators of cycling success is one's maximim sustainable power output. It is something that can be trained, and is something that can be measured to track progress.
I often yell out to people who pass me in a race that my MSPO is 270-290W, what's your? And that they shouldn't be passing me if theirs is lower. Very few respond back. Just kidding.
Power #s and lactate threshold and all that stuff sort of goes by the wayside come race time. But they are just tools just like a road bike or camel bak, heart rate monitor that can be used to make the most out of training.
Of note though, is I bet I am exceeding my sustainable power during the first half of races which is why I am cramping so bad. And if I could be better about not overriding my fitness I think I could race 2hrs at a steady pace and do better than I have been doing, rather than having the nosedive at the end.