If you know Watts good for you
There is an array of product and software to help you train and race (and rest), and you can spend as much time analysing the data as it takes you to ride a race or go out training.
If you want to do self-coaching, then Training Peaks is a free resource you can use to set your training and race schedule, and review afterwards. It is an online and mobile software platform that helps you plan, perform, and track your training as you prepare for your race events. This powerful training platform allows you to easily create structured workouts, precisely track your progress, and ensure that you reach race day in peak form. It sets out all the information very clearly and in an easy-to-understand format, educating the user for future training and development.
If you decide to hire a professional cycling coach, they are likely to run the upgraded Training Peaks resource. You will need a heart rate monitor, power cranks or power pedals and a computer, so it can be expensive initially, but is a good investment, as it’s a sure way of you improving as a racing cyclist.
If you watch elite racers as they cross the finish of a World Cup Cyclo Cross or World Tour race, you will see they press the session finish button, as the data is downloaded to a phone, iPad or laptop for instant or later analysis.
It will help you to know your functional threshold power (FTP) as this metric is what you can set all your training and racing against. (If you do track racing, there is a rule forbidding you to have a computer screen visible when racing, but it’s also a bit busy on track to be checking numbers!) Check Coach Google for measuring your FTP. Using your FTP for time trialling is now probably an art form, and you’ve got time to monitor and manage your outputs. Ask a club member who time trials and has a computer in their “cockpit” for advice.
For a self-coached rider, you can monitor your own heart rate values (HRV). This can help you decide if you need an easy day or have recovered well and can handle the added stress of a high-intensity session or race. Have a look at https://www.hrv4training.com. There are other providers, and you can take your pulse each morning with the camera on a smart phone or get a pulse monitor with blue tooth connectivity.
One article that you can get more HRV info from is: https://www.myithlete.com/how-to-handle-an-unexpected-ithlete-hrv-reading/
Referring again to World Tour riders, you will see them constantly checking their heart rate zone and wattage when in attack mode or climbing a mountain pass, as this keeps the rider in control of a sustained effort with the right calculation to get them to the finish, or the top of the mountain! It’s just as important a Wheelers racer to ride to a sustainable HR zone!
There are many books and articles that can help you with this topic, and knowledge is power (and so is Watts!) After all, you don’t know what you don’t know, but its fun finding out!