If you took a wrong turn on a cross-country road trip, you’d double back as soon as possible, right? Think of it this way: if you found yourself 20 miles off course, that’s 40 miles you will have lost by the time you get back on track. Training for endurance events is a lot like cross-country road trips—it’s a long haul, and there are a number of things that can steer you off course if you’re not paying attention. That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on how your training is going, and to make corrections at the first sign of veering off course.
So how do you measure your progress? There are options out there. Which option you choose depends on your personal goals and the resources available to you.
This is a good option for those who have access to a power meter. Twenty minutes all out, 2 x 8 minutes, a set distance for time…. There are a number of different field tests you can choose from to measure progress. Just make sure you’re measuring the same variables, under consistent conditions.
Racing is what many athletes like to use to measure progress. The problem with this approach: how do you know if you’re getting faster or your competitors are getting slower? If you choose racing as a measurement, use it in conjunction with other metrics that measure your performance relative to you, not your performance relative to others.
More expensive, but more comprehensive, metabolic testing is useful if you:
- Want to lose weight or improve your power-to-weight ratio
- Are targeting an ultra endurance event (a stage race or an event of 3+ hours)
- Struggle to manage blood sugar (you bonk or hit the wall during training or racing)
- Have a history of being an under-doer or over-doer
- Have used field testing and still find yourself stuck in a rut
- Are motivated by working with data and measurements
Training takes valuable time and energy. Make sure the time you’re investing is paying off. Measure your progress regularly, and make corrections at the first sign of veering off course.
In Part 3, we'll get a close look at metabolic testing as a means for measuring training effectiveness, the quality of your nutrition, and the way your body burns fuel.