I often hear friends say thing like this.

* What’s your average speed?

* What do you average on a Long Ride?

I can see why athletes would ask those questions but does it mean anything?

Now I’m not saying having a fast average speed is bad, In-fact it’s a real positive.


Chasing average speed in isolation is maybe not the best way to get faster.

I can hear what you thinking, how can going FASTER be BAD?

Let me expand a little

Average speed as a unit has so many uncontrollable variables that depend on its outcome.

Let’s take this scenario for example:

Rider A – completes a 60 mile flat route with no wind at an average speed of 20mph.

Rider B – completes a 60 mile route in strong winds at an average speed of 17mph.


Which performance was the best?

*** I HAVE NO IDEA!?***

Average speed as a performance metric in isolation is a bit meaningless.

To give it context it has to be paired with another metric.

Power or Heart rate


let’s talk POWER, A.K.A the force we can put through the crank on the bike.

For simplicity I’m going to use zones and take an athlete who can hold an average speed of 17mph in mid zone 2.

After a focused block of training that raises their functional threshold power.

Now they can now hold an average speed of 19mph in mid zone 2.

Yes, focused training can do that. I won’t get into the geeky physiological adaptions as to why in this post, I’ll write about that next time.

Using power and average speed and periodically testing these inside in controllable conditions on a turbo will give you a much better understanding your progress.

Notice I said inside.

So next time someone says what’s your average speed at X say this.

That depends….

It will drive them mad. LOL

As a side note let’s talk about your power zones.

These zones are individual and shouldn’t really be shared. They are only relevant to you.

Thanks for reading,

Billy Harriss BSc MSc, Head Coach 
Level 2 British Triathlon Coach 

The 7 Most Overlooked Areas of Performance

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