Training Outdoors without power meter

With the days getting nicer, I was wondering how to do the assigned workouts outdoors if we don’t have a power meter.

I have switched jobs and have a great set of training routes to choose when riding home from work…20 miles- country roads and bike path, and country roads + gravel.

Zwift makes it easy to know when hitting targets.

I do have a wahoo elemnt which can download training peaks workout, plus cadence and heart rate monitor.

Hi Linda- doing workouts outside is an excellent way to train all the skills we work on. I do as much of my workouts outdoors as I can weather and family schedule permitting.

Without a power meter you could use RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) or HR (hear rate), as I discussed in a recent post (excerpt below):

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Using RPE can be helpful for the new athlete who does not have the tools to measure power. It can also be useful when an athlete has taken significant time off the bike due to injury or illness and needs to get back into training in a more conservative and progressive manner instead of doing workouts at the pre-illness power numbers.

Rate of Perceived Exertion, or RPE, is one of the methods used to prescribe workouts. It is a subjective scale of 0-10 or 6-20, used to measure the intensity of intervals.

Heart Rate (HR)

It is also possible to train using heart rate (HR) zones. These are calculated using a person’s maximum heart rate (Max HR), which is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

Using the popular formula 220 minus your age is not recommended, because each person’s maximum heart rate is unique, and that formula is rarely accurate.

The workouts would then be designed by using a % of Max HR. The downside of using this method is that a person’s HR does not follow the exact trajectory as their effort/power output. There is a lag in HR increase, and therefore there is great likelihood that the athlete following HR only would fall short of the desired effort measured in watts.

As you can see, these methods can be tricky because they are not as accurate, and you could fall short or be over your targets on all intervals.

Have you considered getting a used Power Meter? I can also see if I can get you one at a discount. It does not have to be anything fancy.

I finally bought a speed and cadence sensor for my outdoor bike so I can in theory now do workouts outside. Not sure about how that would work though… I imagine I can download the workout into my cycling computer so it will tell me what to do when, right?
But what about traffic? How do I account for stops, having to slow down for traffic reasons etc?
Thanks for your input and your patience as this must be a very obvious thing for those of you who have been doing workouts outside all along.

Hi @pilinkaba, that’s exciting! Yes, you could download the workout into your bike computer and it would tell you what to do. Alternatively, you could write the intervals and tape it to the top tube of your bike- that’s what I do- I write the intervals on painter’s tape (which comes off easily) with a permanent marker.

As for traffic and stops, you could pause the interval as needed. I do all of my workouts outside when the weather is good. I became very familiar with the areas I can use for intervals, and from doing it so many times, I know where exactly I can do 3, 5, 10, 12 min intervals with as little interruption as possible. It is not perfect, but I still believe it is very beneficial to do workouts outside.

You won’t have a target power, so you will use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) mentioned above.

Here are a few screen shots of my workouts outdoors- you can see where I had to stop during an interval. Sometimes I pause the lap timer, sometimes I don’t, depending on the interval:

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Thank you so much, @Coach_Theia. More experimenting to come!
I am loving this challenge so much!!! Learned so many tricks already that I never would have thought of. Whoohoo!!!

And HAPPY FRIDAY to all!

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If we use RPE what reference on the workouts you uploaded forbus wouldnit refer to? Eg “hard”?

It’s subjective… you could apply it yourself for what you think makes sense when you are doing the hard efforts. I guess a 10 would be al “all out” effort or anaerobic efforts (above 120% of FTP), 9 would be VO2 (above FTP), 7-8 would be around 90% of FTP, 6-7 around 80%, etc.