(Article written for City Fitness - July's national newsletter).
What works for you?? Longer sessions or short intense workouts?? Take some of the guess work out of your training and record what you do. (This means Excel and not Facebook!!). By recording what you have completed for your workouts, you create a level of objectivity that can clearly show where you got things right…or wrong.
The nature of your training will allow for differing types of data to be recorded. Cyclists (for example) will have a huge amount of data at their finger tips. This can include distance, time, speed, cadence, altitude climbed, wattage, and heart rate. That’s a lot of potential data, and noting too much can mean valuable information is lost amongst meaningless data later.
The key is knowing exactly what data is important to your sessions, and noting those points only. While this may mean some information is not recorded, it’s a better scenario than losing focus on what you achieved. Several key questions exist, and data can show a snapshot of how you achieved that area of your training…
- “What did I do??” – Note the activity. (This may also note variables that can influence pacing, such as windy or wet weather).
- “How long did I train??” – Time is recorded, with key portions noted if applicable. (eg. Hill climbs).
- “How far did I go??” – The distance is recorded.
- “How intense was the session??” - Usually measured by a heart rate monitor, although wattage (via a power meter) can also measure this.
One of the major benefits of recording your sessions is the mindfulness that will exist for your training. You are less likely to simply do the same training every time if you are recording the session’s outcomes. This applies to indoor sessions also, for example if you normally do a 30 minute spin level 12 for a warm-up for your Centergy session, and decide to give it a nudge and choose level 16, then the outcome can be recorded. This may be you being smashed for the class that followed, or conversely could have left you feeling invigorated. Note the efforts in terms of numbers where possible - so the workout type, duration, distance covered, and level selected. This approach can be used for everything from cycling and running, through to weight training and
Over time the data collected will gain meaning. This is as long as you can later read the data easily. A good example is my assessing of the data for a local hill, where I did 2 sessions of a dozen hill repeats several months apart. The pace was intended to be ‘steady’, (not an all out effort), with data on each climb noted. I knew I was faster when I did the second set of climbs - the average time being just over a minute faster per climb seemed to indicate this was the case. However the reason WHY was the big question. Did I weigh less?? Did I have a tail wind?? Maybe I just gave a bigger effort for the second session?? Having recorded the time, heart rate, cadence, and wattage for every climb had been invaluable. I had an additional 10% in wattage, with a slightly lower heart rate. (10% is huge – it’s like going from a 4:00 marathon, to a 3:36 marathon for no additional effort!!). The faster cadence on the second session also reminded me that I climb faster in a smaller gear.
Hill Repeats (Early in the season)
Average time - 12:58
Average heart rate – 151
Average cadence – 45
Average wattage – 251
Hill Repeats (Several months later)
Average time - 11:55
Average heart rate – 149
Average cadence – 50
Average wattage – 277
A great deal of time can be spent training, and by recording what you have achieved you have the ability to later review your progress. Does it instantly make you faster?? No. However, you will have the ability to see what is working for you, and you’ll potentially be saving yourself a huge amount of time, effort, and money(!!) by identifying what seems to be working, and proving this by testing and retesting aspects of your training that bring you success.