Weekly Mailbag–June 12th, 2010

WeeklyMailbagIconHere’s this week’s edition of the weekly mailbag.  This is a weekly series where I feature a handful of the e-mailed questions I received from the previous week or so.  I try and pick a wide variety of questions. Some are technical in nature, some sport related, and sometimes all sorts of other randomness – as you’ll see below.

This week’s mailbag covers the following topics:

1) What to wear during first tri
2) Quarq Cinqo Power Meter Review
3) Using Garmin 310XT for power meter intervals

Question #1: What to wear for first tri
From Chris-

I’ve got my first triathlon (olympic) in a little more than a month and while I think I am physically and mentally ready I’m still missing something very crucial. I have no idea what non-professionals wear during their triathlons. Pretty simple/silly I know.
I’ve only ever seen the pros compete on TV once in a while, and didn’t know if people just in the race to finish it would or should wear things dramatically different?
Do people change into cycling shorts or running shorts during those portions of the tri?
Or do they just wear whatever they can fit under their wetsuit for the entire race?

Don’t worry, I had the same questions for my first triathlon.  On my first one I ended up wearing a pair of bike shorts, and then put on a bike jersey in T1.  During T2 I had planned to put on a running shirt, but ended up just running the 5K in my bike jersey because it was too wet/sweaty to get off.
Since then, I’ve gone mainstream and do like most do, which is just get a tri-suit.  The good news is a tri suit is really nothing more than slightly better designed bike shorts, and a tighter running/cycling top.  They come in one-piece or two-piece.  Most folks like two pieces, though you’ll see one-pieces out there in shorter events.  I prefer one-pieces for shorter events, and two pieces for longer events.
1) Tri Shorts: Simple bike shorts that have a thinner pad, and dry faster/better.

2) Tri Top: Sorta like a  tight tank-top that usually has a pocket in the back (make sure it does, very useful), and then some form of zipper on the front.  The goal is to minimize drag on the bike (bike jerseys create a huge amount of drag), and also minimize any issues during the swim with water drag
Most folks put on socks in either T1 or T2.  During the swim, if wearing a wetsuit, you’ll wear everything below the wetsuit and then just take off your wetsuit in T1.  If not wearing a wetsuit, then you’ll want to consider how ‘draggy’ your tri-top is in the water.  Meaning, if it slows you down a lot, you may want to add it in T1 instead.  In short though, everything is pretty much under the wetsuit for the race (even HR straps) and you just peel away layers as you go.
The most important thing is comfort though.  Last year at both Ironman Canada I switched into running in a simple running singlet for the run.  Just liked it better.  On the run it largely doesn’t matter what you wear since aerodynamics aren’t an issue anymore.
Hope this helps some!  And good luck!

Question #2: Quarq Cinqo Review

I’m a great fan of your blog btw and would like to credit you as being the best Garmin reviewer on the net. 
I was wondering if you would consider doing a review of the Quarq Cinqo.  Just wondering why you haven’t gone into reviewing your power meter. :D
Cheers mate. :D  More power.

(Quick side note: Start here for a power meter primer)

The Cinqo is on my list of things to review (albeit along with 37 other posts in the queue…).  And, realistically, it wouldn’t take me long to write.  I just need to knock it out.  That said, in short – I love it, and wouldn’t trade it in for anything.  There were some initial transmitter issues with respect to output power (not the watts type, but the ‘powerful enough to transmit 100%’.)  That’s since been resolved in all new units out there, and older units can get the transmitter swapped out pretty easily from Quarq.
I have a compact version, and love it 110% – but no matter which one you’re looking into I think you’ll enjoy it.  To me, the biggest thing is service.  They’ll overnight it back to you without cost.  And ya get a free water bottle each time. :)
The biggest limiter in me reviewing a power meter has honestly been the realization about how little about power I actually know.  I follow the Wattage Forum pretty closely, and even though I know a lot about the technology side of it, I don’t even skim the surface of the physiological side of it from a training standpoint.  That’s really been why I’ve shied away at this point, but back to the point…it is in my list.

Question #3: Using 310XT with Power Meter for intervals
From Brooks-

I’m looking at getting a Quarq power meter, and of course you need a computer device to actually read the power readings.  So as a triathlete, of course having the 310xt would be ideal for its all in one for each leg of the race.  However, I’ve been reading that the 310xt lacks the ability to “average” power and simply shows the actual readings (which apparently can be sporadic in terms of jumping from 191,222,197,208,182,241 etc.).  So what does that mean?  Is having “average” power that important in terms of being able to do intervals on the bike?  Obviously, it can be hard to keep a steady pace if the power is jumping all around every second.  With that being said, do you think there is any way that this can be fixed?

Indeed, the 310XT doesn’t have the ability to do any sort of power meter smoothing, which kinda sucks.  If doing intervals based on power, I think it would be extremely difficult to hold an exact wattage (especially a higher wattage) based on the jumpiness of the data.  While it’s sorta possible to pace by power using auto-lap set to a very low number, it would make your data hard to interpret because you’d have so many laps (such as if you set it for every 1K).
I would heavily look at the Edge 500 combined with the FR305 for the run, if cost is of concern (especially with the 305 generally found for $125 these days).  I think there’s a chance that down the road it could be fixed, but Garmin doesn’t seem to be showing a lot of interest in doing so – as I guess they primarily know they people will probably end up being either the device anyway, or buying two devices. :-/  It’s a shame, as this is the one beef I have with the 310XT (lack of 3s and 30s data smoothing for power meters), well, along with some of the smart recording stuff.
I actually have been wanting to put a post together showing what the two data sets look like side by side on video, just a matter of setting everything up and knocking it out.

Recent Mailbags:

Weekly Mailbag – June 5th, 2010

– Cleaning HR and Quick release Strap 
– Multisport Mode
– Splitting Data Files
– Using Edge 500 with Sport Tracks

Weekly Mailbag – May 29th, 2010

– Garmin 305 Mode During Swim
– Race Day Nutrition 
– Garmin 310XT Pin/Falling off issues
– Changing up things on race day

All past mailbags here.


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  1. Wait, did you do your first tri in real bike shorts? How did that go in the water?!

  2. Surprisingly, not too bad. When I was first starting out, I actually used to regularily swim with them too…funny me, I know. They do dry surprisingly quick.

  3. Please review the Quarq as soon as you can. I’m really looking forward to one of your “legendary” reviews on it.