Do You Ever "Fly Blind?" (ignore power numbers in workouts)

The podcast discussion about mental blocks – being intimidated by an improved FTP and doubting the ability to get through interval sets – reminded me of two different experiences.

My wife used to take exchange groups to Germany during the summer. I would tag along and just ride my bike in the Black Forest. I met a D3 pro in that area that I would train with now and then (and there’s a lesson about zone 2 intensity there – if I a 45+ weekend warrior to keep up on the 4-5 hour rides, then maybe the value in LSD sessions is not in how hard they are, but how long they are, and how often you do them) who would keep electrical tape over the power numbers on his SRM monitor. He would look at the elapsed time and HR. When I asked him what he did on intervals days, it was “just ride up the hill very hard.”

I have PMs that read 10-15w apart from each other. All these gadgets can read a little different from day to day, and units that leave the factory – anyone’s factory – can be within spec and still as much as 5% off from each other. I don’t use powermatch or anything similar. Many days, I just change the Garmin screen to elapsed time and HR, especially on the interval/fartlek days. Rather than trying to hit a watt target, I just “ride up the hill very hard.” And the segment times in Strava are what they are. The “low” PM days are just as fast as the “high” PM ones (and never mind which one is “right”).

Sure, seeing the wattage can be a motivator. I do that too. But, if the numbers are getting to your head, maybe it’s time to get rid of the numbers.

So, how often do you ignore the PM? Find it helps? Find it hurts? What are your own mental break strategies for when the numbers might be getting in the way?

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I don’t look at the power numbers when i do sub 1min max efforts, and rarely when i ride z2. I do look at it often when i ride around threshold or vo2max stuff, like 5-7min hill climbs.

what’s the point of training to power, if you don’t train to power :thinking:

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“training levels are descriptive, not prescriptive” – Andrew Coggan


I would say I do something similar. For the very short efforts, I’m going too hard to look at the screen. For the z2 efforts, I do look at it from time to time (like 10-20min average), to make sure I’m not generally going too easy or too hard. Also on the long rides I hit lap every hour, again just to keep a rough idea. I think one of the most useful cases of the PM is what you describe, using it around threshold and VO2. At these outputs missing your targets by just a bit will have you either blow up quick or ‘under train’

Depends - in a TT where it’s critical not to blow ones beans within the first two min, then absolutely ride to a strict power. If it’s just a hard ride you want, why not “fly blind” (though I wouldn’t expect this to be as productive as a set workout).

Furthermore, my RPE assessment is terrible and if rode to perceived effort I think I’d always be in L1…

I almost never look at the actual numbers. It doesn’t matter what the numbers are. I ride in erg and erg will make sure I hit the power targets. I find it helps tremendously to lessen the noise in my head. For example, if a workout has intervals that vary between some percentages. I will definitely not look to see which intervals are what. I pretend they are all the same and rarely do I notice a difference. If I was looking at the numbers, the highest percentage would definitely feel the hardest and I might dread it going into it. And regardless of these variations, I don’t really care what the numbers are, ever. I don’t really want to look at the workouts beforehand, other than seeing what type of workout it is and how long the intervals and rest valleys are.