Pacing with power

Hi all,

recently I got myself a power meter. Until now my only way to train with a power meter was to ride on an indoor trainer and check/follow virtual power on TR app.

Now when I am able to go outside (due to Corona only shorter rides) I am more interested in how to pace myself with power.

I have a local climb: 9.8km, 6%, 548m el. gain. My best time 35:51min.

How should I know what power or % of my FTP should I keep to PR? Is there some calculation or something similar?

As my PR is ~36min should I shoot for somewhere around 160% of FTP and hope for the best?

Sorry if this sounds like a silly question or it was already asked, if so please post me a link to that topic as I didn’t find it while searching.


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You’ll learn as you use your PM, refer to your power curve, etc. A 36min effort will be close to your FTP. I’d start at FTP, then increase as able for the final 10-15min, by feel. This assumes you know your FTP with your new PM. If you don’t, a time trial up your local climb will be a great way to test that.

Edit: the top end of VO2 Max is around 120% of ftp for most people, and that’s a 5-8 minute maximal effort. So don’t try for 160%!


I presume you know what your ftp is. If I was you I set myself a target of around 10 to 15 watts over. Then I would break thinks down into 10 minute blocks. On your head unit make sure you have lap power displayed plus what what ever metrics you like power, hr, cadence etc. Start off steady but firm for the first 5 minutes roughly till your heart rate climbs into threshold then start pressing on a bit more so the average power is about 5 watts over threshold the next 10 minutes try to bring the lap power up another 2 or 3 watts. The last 10 minutes try just to hold and if you can get an extra couple of watts great and if can’t still a decent effort. With rough 3 minutes to go just press as hard as you can and empty the tank. About 15 minutes before take a gel or caffeine gel as you will need for the last 10 minutes


You can test different approaches with free account on it removes the guessing part - you only have to know your FTP and weight.


Welcome and great question. :blush:

@jwellford has a great suggestion.

To add a little to that, you’ll find as you train/ride to power you get to know your abilities better. If you’ve done a TR workout with threshold intervals and done a work out with VO2 max intervals, you’ll see that while holding threshold (ftp) for ten or twenty minutes is achievable, working at 120% of threshold (VO2 max) for just two or three minutes can feel almost impossible.

On the opposite side riding at 80% of threshold can be done for hours at a time.

So yeah, try holding a consistent threshold (FTP) effort, then try working up to 105%, 110%.

You will likely find that holding a consistent effort if any mind outside is fairly tricky, but you don’t have to be perfect.


Thank you gents for great advice and friendly tone. I will definitely shoot for my FTP and and try suggested approaches. I have tested my FTP with PM, indoor ramp test, so I know my limitation. :wink:
I will also check bestbikesplits and play with it.

I am on TR for very long time, all the way from 2013. but I didn’t had real PM only virtual, so I never bother understand power and power meter more deeply as I couldn’t apply it in real life. Worth mentioning I had 2 year pause from cycling and now bringing myself back slowly.


You can also go to, enter the relevant data, and it will give you a pretty good idea of how much power you will need to put out to beat your old PR.

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If you have strava add the segment as a favourite and it will come up on your Elemnt when you start the segment. Then it will allow you to pace the ride and see how far ahead or behind your PR you are. After you have done it once with a power metre then you will know how much power to hold.

If it is just to get a PR then the segment will tel you how you are doing.

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there are no silly questions, we all started there!!

36m would be around 100-105%, and 105 is hard!

and dont worry, training with power seems so foreign and weird when you first start, but you’ll get used to all the numbers and metrics.

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Unfortunately, existing PR was set while back when I didn’t have PM, and for sure it has not been paced very well, only by RPE. I have an older Garmin head unit (EDGE 500) so there is not much integration between Strava and even itself Garmin Connect. :slight_smile:

Thank you for kind words.
At the moment my main concentration is trying to keep power line smooth. I noticed it is much more “jumpy” that the one from virtual power. Even slight correction of the foot in the shoe causes power to jump for 10-20w instantly. I guess I will manage to keep it more steady over time.

Thank you, interesting tool to play with. It looks pretty accurate.

If RPE is what you’re used to, then RPE can give some extremely good pacing. Especially on climbs that you’ve done a few times so have a good feel for how to measure out your effort. I first got an outdoor PM 2 years ago, the first few big climbs I did I continued to go by RPE and HR not by power, as I didn’t feel I had a good enough handle on the right power targets yet. Looking at the power afterwards they were pretty much spot on - even throughout, and right around the % of FTP you’d expect for the length of climb. 10-20W jumps aren’t that big a deal, though if you haven’t already I would recommend switching your computer to showing 3 second power not instant power.

I find putting out steady power to be harder on flatter terrain, when it’s easier to fall into the trap of trying to maintain speed/cadence and so small gradient changes or headwinds can easily lead to power surging or dropping. Also hard when in a group ride or race situation and you automatically respond to what others are doing. But a steady climb is pretty easy to pace by RPE.

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yes that will come in time; we are all pretty erratic when we start with power; execution of the intervals is key so i often ask newer cyclists to focus on “tightening up” the watts before making them bigger, if that make sense.

sounds like you’re on a great path, keep it up!

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