As simple as it sounds, knowing how to use the lap function on your GPS device can have a massive impact on the effectiveness of your training sessions.
Cycle training techniques have evolved significantly in the past decade and a half with coaches such as the late Aldo Sassi, David Bailey and Tim Kerrison implementing interval training sets and targeted climb efforts as part of strategic training plans for the elite cyclists in their squads. As the information about these methods trickles down to the broader cycling community, more and more people are using interval training to improve their cycling performance.
My own coaching experiences indicate that whilst most cyclists believe they will improve with interval training, many are confused about some of the basics of conducting interval sessions once out on the bike. The process of developing interval training plans is complex and a topic for another time, but assuming you already have a plan. let's just deal with getting the session done on the road.
Interval training always involves periods of hard work or intense riding (the interval effort) separated by periods of recovery (easy riding) and it is only the intensity, duration and number of interval efforts that varies from rider to rider. The key to a successful session is controlling the intensity of each effort and sticking to the plan. This intensity is usually set as a power target in watts or a heart rate zone for those who do not have a power meter. It is also useful to note that some intervals may also have a "technical" element attached, such as cadence or pedalling efficiency data, such as Torque Effectiveness (TE) or Pedalling Smoothness (PS). Keeping track of all of this stuff can be difficult, especially when the cloud of fatigue starts to descend. This is precisely what the lap function on your device is for.
Setting Up Your Device
Almost all GPS cycling devices have multiple pages any of which may be displayed at any one time. So it is just a matter of setting up a "lap page" with all of the important information (and none of the "general stuff") displayed. This usually means you will need the following fields displayed:
Once you have set up your lap page, it is simply a matter of pressing your lap button at the start and end of each interval. This will start a new lap and the data collected will be "refreshed". Now you can simply focus on your targets for that interval.
Some devices will automatically default to the lap page when the lap button is pressed, for others you will need to manually select the lap page (by scrolling or pressing a button) before your session starts, then leave it on this page throughout.
It is worth noting that you can use this same process for any "segment" of any ride and not just interval sessions. It can be a very useful way of conserving energy during longer rides, or even for pacing yourself during PR attempts at Strava segments.
Once you master the lap function of your device, the rest is all about the riding and the effort you put in.
If you would like any help with any aspect of your training, please do not hesitate to get in touch
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