I’m afraid to admit that there was a time when Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition calendar served as my training diary. A decade or so later, my friend Tony Svennson passed along his Total Triathlon Almanac, a fantastic triathlon-specific diary that allowed you to easily keep track of your swim, bike and run workouts, log your morning pulse and keep track of your race performances throughout the year, too.
As my teenage children would say, actually writing down what happened in your workouts is “so last year.” Now all you need to do is download your workout data from your watch, heart rate monitor, bike computer, iPod or use the adidas micoach to keep track of, and analyze, your training.
Here’s a look at a few of the options available if you’re looking to keep track of your training this year:
Industry leader TrainingPeaks is used by many coaches as the way to provide training programs to their athletes. The company offers a number of options, among them the online TrainingPeaks Personal Edition, which easily allows you to monitor your fitness and health trends, track your workouts, nutrition and weight, upload heart rate and power data and even plan your workouts and exercise plans. The data is kept online on the TrainingPeaks servers, which has its benefits (you don’t have to worry about losing it if your computer crashes), but can be an annoyance if you’re not online when you want to check out your training. The professional edition of the program is used by coaches and personal trainers to monitor and prepare their client’s training and physiological data. The TrainingPeaks wko+ program is a desktop version that allows you to record all your data and keep track of it all on your computer. TrainingPeaks is compatible with just about every training device on the market.
Like TrainingPeaks wko+, Sporttracks is a program that allows you to download gps and other data and then stores that information on your computer. A popular program with Garmin users, the latest edition, Sporttracks 3, has a number of workout tracking features. You can show gps routes through a variety of maps, chart workout trends over time, log detailed pace, elevation and HR graphs and define other categories and customize other data. For runners there’s an easy tab that allows you to track the mileage you’re putting on your shoes.
Polar Pro Trainer 5 and polarpersonaltrainer.com
It’s not hard to be a fan of Polar’s various products, and those are supported with some excellent software that allows you to download your workout information in a variety of ways, either wirelessly or through an infrared connection. Once you’ve got the information there, you can either use the Polar Pro Trainer 5 software, which will store the data on your computer, or use polarpersonaltrainer.com, which will keep the data online. The comprehensive Polar ProTrainer 5 is incredibly thorough, allowing you to keep track of all of your training based on heart rate zones, speed, distance, time and increasing/decreasing heart rate. It allows you to plan workouts and upload them to your watch or bike computer, then download the data and thoroughly analyze it all afterwards.
The online Polar Personal Trainer is an application that provides a wide selection of training programs geared towards your fitness level and goals. Once you’ve followed one of the suggested workouts, you can log your training info to create a diary. The data can then be stored and viewed either weekly or monthly, so you can easily track how well your performance is improving.
Timex Ironman powered by TrainingPeaks
The latest Timex heart rate monitors and new gps Global Trainer allow you to wirelessly connect your workout information to an online account developed for Timex by TrainingPeaks. The first step involves downloading the Timex Device Agent software, which allows you to download your data and also manage all the settings on your watch, too. The Timex Trainer software includes specific training plans developed by Dave Scott and Gale Bernhardt. Even if you don’t want to upload any of those workouts to your watch, the Timex Training software allows you to track just about every aspect of your daily training and nutrition regimen. We’ve always liked Timex’s fairly simple and straightforward interfaces and their software is equally easy to use.
With the micoach system you can plan your workouts, then follow along as voice prompts give you feedback and information while you’re out for your run. Once you’re finished, you can then upload your workout data to the online workout manager, which provides extensive tracking options. Extremely simple to use, the micoach program is best suited to those who routinely run with music. Now there’s also a micoach iPhone app, too, which provides even more options and information.
Combined with an iPod or iPhone, the Nike+ system allows you to track your workouts and log just about every bit of information you would care for. You can track all the data on your iPhone or use the online program.