Training without a goal, is not training at all

Posted in Blog Post by Alex Skelton on Mar 06, 2011

Often the team here feel we spend more of our time evangelizing about the benefits of following a structured training program, and educating people about different aspects of training, than we spend banging on about the unique wonderfulness of the Wattbike itself.

That’s why this week’s Cycling Weekly was particularly interesting. They’ve done a survey of their readership via Facebook, which also provides an interesting sideways glance into attitudes to training among cyclists. If you are interested, get down to the newsagents now. It isn’t available online, so no link.

The numbers disclosed bounce around a little bit, so one shouldn’t draw hard and fast conclusions. And we have no reason for thinking Cycling Weekly’s readership is any better or worse at training, than the average cyclist.

The reason the survey was interesting to us was because their data resonated with our own anecdotal experiences.

What jumped out at us was:

  • Only 18% follow a structured training programme
  • 94% don’t have a coach
  • 97% don’t use a power meter (but 57% do use a heart rate meter)
  • 70% own a turbo trainer (but only 40% use it)
  • 62% ride for less than 8 hours per week

Which creates a picture of time constrained cyclists, probably not using their available time to best effect, in terms of performance improvement.

Not that there is any criticism here. The vast majority of respondents didn’t hold a racing licence and half hadn’t been in a sportive. Why would they be following a structured program? Maybe they cycle for the pure pleasure of being out on a bike in the countryside.

This backs up our anecdotal experience.

Without a clear performance related target, few people see the value in training programmes, coaches and equipment like power meters (or Wattbikes). Over the months we have delivered Wattbikes to all sorts of users in many different sports, and also to people with more general health or weight loss requirements. The one thing they share in common is some kind of strong commitment to a personal goal.

It seems if you want to improve, first choose your personal objective. Then get yourself the right programme and the tools for the job.