Addicted to the numbers?

Chad, no need to defend it. that was just kind of a sideshow joke.

It’s not a “defense”, it’s my perspective and an answer to what I took as a serious question.

I don’t agree with this at all. Can you get MORE fitness by knowing zones or whatever, of course. But, I firmly believe there are ZERO junk miles for the vast majority of riders. Take 99% of the people you see on any given day, get them to ride 10 hours a week, and I guarantee you they will get a huge amount of fitness out of it.


I agree with the general premise that most of us focus far too much on numbers and should do much less of it. Having said that, I find the numbers motivating. If I never step on a scale, I guarantee I will gain weight. If I don’t focus on my sleep hours, I guarantee I will sleep less. If I don’t have a training plan and just ride whenever I feel like it and do whatever ride I feel like doing, I guarantee I will ride less. I personally need the motivation of plans, goals, and numbers.


The number are not bad…
We make the mistake in focusing on ONLY the numbers as our perception of self worth in sports.

I get frustrated when I do a hard WO track session and Garmin laughs at me and say I’m been UNPRODUCTIVE!
Or when I go to Intervals and see my “fitness” is lower than before even tho I am making progress on running (getting objectively faster)…

Obsession over the number is the problem…


Not to be the contrarian, but I do think some numbers are important. And I think power is one of them.

As a time-limited person that is looking to achieve a goal, I want the most “efficient” cycling workouts I can get. For now, I choose to use TR to give me those workouts. TR initially chooses to base my workouts on a power number it gets from a test it administers. It then adjusts, through AT, as I workout (up and down). I try to keep a good balance while on TR by watching numbers like cadence (to balance aerobic and anaerobic contribution).

I then see how my body reacts to those workouts through tracking various other metrics (resting HR, HRV, etc.). My current issue is there are a lot of factors, in addition to TR, that effect those numbers (diet, sleep, drinking, general stress, etc.). That said, they are still valuable.

I don’t mean to say “feel” isn’t important. I think it is. But I also think numbers are too. Of course, I’ve been wrong about more fitness-related things than I have been right.

Oh, and numbers are a great way to track improvement over time, which can be motivating.


I am very much a numbers person. Years ago when getting my degree and my masters…my electives were in stat and math courses. So I like numbers. I capture lots of data but I have changed over time how I use it.

I dont focus on FTP as an example…as it is just a number to guide my training. It will be some number in the spring…but how I feel outside will determine how hard I ride. The actual number doesnt matter.

At one point I would watch the numbers ie Heart rate Inside workouts these days I hide heart rate. I find when I see it there is an impact on me riding so I ride better without seeing it. Outside I will watch it just to tone down my easy rides.

Power meters I do like and is the one number I will watch. Being on a group ride with an excited group going over my FTP…just better to slow things down as things cant continue that way. Rides so often start out too fast…dont get it.

The issue of numbers causing an impact is something that I have experienced in a different manner. Group rides when it is windy I just keep my power steady regardless of the wind. So often I get told I am doing too much yet my effort is the same. Peoples perception of effort is obviously different…I cant avoid the wind but I dont feel the change…is it because I see the power and know it is the same effort?

1 Like

Of course…and I don’t think anyone is saying “only numbers” or “only ride by feel”.

The point, as Joel and the article both pointed out, is when we start letting the numbers dictate our self-worth as athletes. heck, we see it all the time on this forum as some worry when their FTP drops by 5 watts, which is basically a rounding error.


I just got a replacement Apple Watch and turned off almost every notification.

Do I need to be reminded to close my rings? Why, I exercise 8-10 hours per week already. I don’t want to be randomly bothered to “Breath”, or stand.

I don’t think these Watches work very well for serious athletes. Maybe the average office worker can use these features for good benefit.


“Junk Miles” is just as toxic as hyper focus on numbers. The only junk miles are the ones done on the trainer, :wink: /sarcasm

There’s no such thing as junk miles outside. Ever.

Unless you’re some U23 with actual talent trying to break into the Pro Peloton and every single minute needs to have a purpose, the idea of a junk mile is laughable.

Bikes used to be about fun. Back when you rode outside with your friends at golden hour, not a care in the world, never passed up a chance to pet every dog and cat you saw and the giggles came and stayed a lot longer than they do now. Fun. We used to have it.

I jest…but not really. No such thing as junk miles outside…every day out there is a blessing.


No junk miles here either…
Well… there is no miles… just time… but is not junk time…


100% agree.

I’ve been lucky enough to be such a weak rider compared to the others here that I’ve never derived my self worth from numbers. I’d be very depressed if I did.

I’m also of the mind that a small increase or decrease in FTP over a short period of time is as attributable to “noise” as it is increasing or declining fitness. I tend to only look at my material, long term trends. And I don’t look for the sake of self worth; I look to see if I need to make any changes to be more effective.

1 Like
  • Great statement, and then…
  • Which is just as “toxic” categorization and beyond ironic to me.


Can’t help but be reminded of this great movie segment:



I think the (power) numbers give little information in the short run, but matter a lot in longer time horizons.
Watching power numbers can be a good indicator of when to end a workout early but RPE matters for the majority.
I am definitely motivated by goal setting, and get satisfaction out of achieving and exceeding goals.
The real issue is when you fall short and instead of being indifferent, you’re actually upset over it. Like others have said, this is where caring so much about numbers has its downfall.
Back when I used to race, I used to feel like I needed some reasoning or excuse for why I came in 6th, or 14th place as opposed to being happy about it. I only seemed to get any satisfaction out of 1st. That’s another part where counting the numbers and ranks gets in the way of having fun

Forgot the wink tag or sarcasm tag for the hall monitors. I’ll clean it up before anyone else assumes I’m questioning their LARP’ing.

1 Like

Is it lame?
I get to watch tv.
I am safe from vehicles. I dont have to deal with rain, cold, high winds, traffic lights, etc.

I do agree is way more fun outside…
But lame? and junk time? Not really… for some (like me) its a way more convenient way to train.

EDIT… I missed the /s of your comment…

1 Like

I’m pretty sure the expression has been used multiple times by the TR crew but if you have a better word than junk to indicate miles that don’t result in training adaptations, improved fitness, more speed, more endurance, etc… I’d be willing to use it. “Fun miles” doesn’t work bc it’s not inclusive of ppl like me who can only have fun when at the high end of tempo or above.

Anyway, disagreement about the word itself aside, I don’t disagree that you can enjoy yourself on a leisurely ride. My hunch is that you do care about improving fitness and getting faster. I’m not saying your life revolves around it but you probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care at all. And what I was saying in my previous post is that aimlessly puttering around at a very low intensity for 10 hours a week will have zero positive effect on your fitness/speed. I’m not saying you are doing that but a person can log 10 hours a week doing that and not improve at all. Did I miss the implication you were making when you wrote “if > 10 hours/week, I’m doing okay”? Did you mean because I’m just having fun like I did when I was a kid? Or did you mean “I’m working hard enough on my fitness/speed”? The time alone with no other knowledge of effort is meaningless.

This has been an unproductive tangent IMO. The main point I was making is that you may not look at speed or power or HR now but but in the context of “I must be working hard enough, got my 10 hours” you are relying on an internal head-unit developed over the years so that you know your 10 hours are productive.

I definitely did not do Bandeira instead of Maclure because I wanted to get an endurance PL of 10… (/duck).

My best 40k TT was ridden on feel. Though not by choice, PM died that morning unexpectedly. It probably would have been my best 40k regardless, though. I’m glad that it went well and I didn’t blow up or leave anything on the table (aside from 30 seconds or so from a wrong turn, oops).

1 Like