Endurance athletes often measure their endurance performance or fitness by measuring and tracking Functional Power/Pace Threshold (FTP). If you practice testing your FTP enough you’ll likely make improvements. But the test doesn’t tell you how you’ll perform in your next race. FTP is best used to get a baseline of your fitness and set your training zones. As your training progresses your training zones will adjust indicating changes in fitness. The athlete needs to consider other key measurements to get a better understanding of how they may perform at their goal event.
Below are some key measurements I use with athletes to improve endurance performance. This is not a complete list, but these are areas that are often overlooked.
Power to Weight
One great measurement of endurance performance is the power to weight. The lighter you are and the more power you can produce the faster you will go. Combining weight loss with power gains can produce some huge gains on racecourses and segment times. However, weight loss is not always good advice for athletes that are already at an ideal weight. Though many amateur athletes are able to spare 5-10kilos (or more) which can make big gains in speed.
TrainingPeaks has a good way to measure your power profile to give you an idea of where you are compared to your peers. You can use the power profile to view your power to weight in various power segments
Your performance in your event is likely contributed to how efficient you are in your sport. Your efficiency or economy is measured by your power/pace and heart rate. The more efficient you are the greater your performance. You should measure your efficiency over a similar course and duration to your target events.
Tracking efficiency requires you to record your power/pace and heart rate. TrainingPeaks records efficiency as Efficiency Factor (EF) which you can review and track with each workout.
Segment Power and Times
Tracking your power and time on segments is a great measurement for your endurance performance. Ideally, you want to compare your power and times on segments that matter, such courses that are similar to your goal event.
Strava is a great tool for tracking this type of improvement. The Strava activity includes your power/pace and times compares to previous attempts and with other people. However, you don’t need Strava. You can also use your fitness tracking devices with a lap button. Pressing the lap at the beginning and end of your segments and comparing the time and power/pace will see how you are improving.
Tracking your FTP is still a key measurement for establishing training zones. However, FTP is not the only measurement you should consider for improving endurance performance. Making the above-mentioned endurance performance gains are not easy and how you make the gains depends on your sport and race course.
Check out our coaching program to work with one of our coaches to improve your endurance performance.