The Coffee Stop - Watts and Wearables

Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge Sporting Director, Jenni Green is joined by Performance Through Science coach, Steve Saunders to demystify the role of wearable technology in the objective and subjective feedback that you can get from your body and different devices, and why watts are such an important indicator of performance.

A lot of people aren’t understanding what they’re using it for… they’re all wearing it because it look a point and, it’s a talking point – are they understanding how it fits into the training program?

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

Watts the big deal about wearables?

If you’re trying to figure out whether you’re on track for Cycle Challenge, you should probably measure the numbers. Using your wearable is a sure way to determine whether the numbers coincide with the numbers and how you’re feeling, and of course, whether it’s affecting your ability to recover after training.

Get in tune with yourself with subjective feedback

Subjective feedback is the ability to know exactly what you’re feeling, acknowledge if you’re pushing your body too hard or if there is room to train harder and, then responding to your body’s feedback.

You’ve got to be aware of how you feel because that’s going to affect your response to activity. If you’re not acknowledging that, you’re not giving yourself the time to recover, in which case you’re not going to adapt and, you’re not going to get the benefit of that training session. That subjective acknowledgement is phenomenally important.

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

Confirming the subjective with objective

If your body is giving you an indication that you’re driving yourself too hard, using your wearable’s objective data is the best way to confirm whether you need to make a change.

That congruency between objective and subjective confirm… you don’t feel well, objective data can help you confirm.

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

There is no absolute answer, there is no absolute rule except, you need to trust your intuition but, use the technology to double check it.

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

You need to know that your subjective analysis of what you’re feeling like at that moment and how your performance is sitting needs to be lined up with how the data is coming through from your objective mechanism.

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

So, when do you make the move from RPE (rate of perceived exertion) to heart rate and, then from heart rate to watts?

If you understand your program or the program is written out well, you’ve done one of three things – you’re overdone it, you’ve underdone it or you’ve achieved it.

Steve Saunders, Performance though Science (PTS) coach

As a coach, Saunders suggests watching a four-day trend before making a decision based on your wearable’s stats. If you’re not feeling great, your coach will generally tone down the program and, if in the four days you’re still not seeing an improvement – it may be time to find out what’s going on.

Listen to Steve’s full conversation with Jenni in TheCoffee Stop... and, if you have any questions, please send them to

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