So much of the training we have been doing is tied to data. From the very beginning we track our mile pace on the run, or how fast our overall pace is on the bike. We become obsessed with our 100m split in the pool and how that will translate to Open Water once the time comes. Pace watches are not just a nice thing to have, they have become a necessity, needed to track pace and heart rate over the course of a workout. Want to see a triathlete FREAK out? See what happens when his Garmin dies in the middle of a run or worse even, a race, or if s/he forgets to hit START after a water break and loses a mile of data. I’m telling ya people, the working status of your toys can be the difference between a good workout and a bad one. I have been guilty in the past of skipping an entire scheduled workout after work because I forgot to bring my watch. How sick is THAT??
Don’t Judge! You know you’ve done it too, or at the very least it entered your head to do it.
I think it is the people like me that are more attached to these electronic devices than the more seasoned athletes. It is because our whole psyche is attached to the idea of “improvement”. We need to see we are getting better, each race, each run, each lap in the pool. We are new to the idea of pacing, so we need the device to tell us when our swim is too fast, or the run pace has dropped too low. Whether our heart rate is in the right zone. Better athletes know these things by feel. So the idea of “running naked” (i.e. without any electronics) is not an issue for them. For us it is much different. At an event awhile ago that I attended with some local run bloggers, the owner commented that “It’s not all about a PR every time”. I glanced over at Beth Shaw and you can see in both our faces we were thinking the same thing …
Uh … YEAH it IS!
Oh, but it doesn’t just stop there … No No No
AFTER you have completed your workout you must record the data somewhere. Garmin is nice because it uses an ANT+ stick, so as soon as I walk in the door it sees the watch and uploads it to the Garmin site, where I can then look on my computer and analyze every detail of my run/bike/swim.
“Wow, look at my heart rate during this section! What happened there??” Select the section with the mouse and lo and behold the area shows up on the map where you were … “Oh Yeah!! That’s when that snake came out of the woods and scared the shit out of me!!”. This happened during the recent century ride when a pit bull tried to make me dinner. You can specifically point out in my data where it happened, because my heart rate jumped from 140 to 165. See? This is important!!
It actually can be useful, as I found during the first year. I noticed pace drops after 30-45 minutes of biking. Realizing I was not hydrating enough, my coach (the wonderful KC) suggested I set my watch (see? another good reason to have it!) to beep at me every 10 minutes, so I knew when to drink on the bike.
It has now become Pavlovian (big word eh? I’m very smart.). Every time I hear a watch beep I look for the straw. It’s scary. And embarrassing when I am at a dinner or function.
So, you have your data on the watch, and now it has been upload for review to the website, everything stops there right?
NOW you must report it to every social site where you belong. Facebook (all three accounts). Twitter (both accounts). FourSquare. Daily Mile. MyFitnessPal. Fitocracy. And now I am on Strava. They will dutifully notify everyone you know, have known, never met, of your workout and how much you sucked (or rocked) that day. I have heard some say (my family and friends included) that this is just a way of garnering attention. A need for an electronic “pat on the back”. A few “Atta Boys” for the collection.
My answer to them is …. “so?”
What these people do not understand is that it is much more than that. I cannot speak for everyone, but my purpose of doing it is to hold myself accountable. If I post on Facebook, or Twitter, that I have an 11 mile run on the schedule after work it will be noticed when people do not see a corresponding completion report come through. Don’t believe me? Try it. I had friends worried during the Florida Half Ironman in 2012 because they were following me on the website tracking and knew I entered the water but never saw me come out, to the point that they were texting each other about it. Some would say that is odd. I, however, think that is one of the coolest things about this community, that friends would care enough to not just track your race, but to get concerned when it isn’t going as planned (this was due to a timing issue by the way, and they relaxed when my bike time popped on the screen).
So I log … and I log … and I log ….
My weight each morning goes into MyFitnessPal and is reported via Twitter and Facebook if I lost weight. Luckily it doesn’t report when I gain weight so everyone thinks I am constantly losing weight. That rocks. Little do they know it’s the same 3 pounds over and over and over.
Each workout is uploaded to GarminConnect and analyzed to death. This now uploads to Strava, which also uploads my Suunto data if I choose to wear that watch. And yes, I have been known to wear the Suunto on my writst and the Garmin on my bike.
Cuz I likes the data.
Everything I eat each day is logged into MyFitnessPal which tells me my carb/protein/fat ratio. In that way if I gain pounds I can look to the diet the day before and see if there is a link (too much sugar perhaps?).
When I arrive at the gym, or at the trail, I log it through FourSquare. This not only tells my friends and family I am there and safe, it also lets them know someone is on the trail they can join in for a workout if they are in the area.
KC used to track my training schedule just by looking at Facebook, or the Shared Calendar on Google. I can set goals for 2013 by looking at the past two years performance in the same race and trying to beat my last time, because I have all my races in a nice spreadsheet which is formatted by splits, and pace, and T1 and T2 times.
If you need me … I am not too hard to find 🙂