Ever since I first started my blog, I have had a few questions about how I track my workouts. So, I decided I would include some information on how I do it. Apologies in advance for getting my geek on.
Garmin Forerunner 405
My workouts begin and end with the Garmin 405. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and I can’t imagine training without it. Prior to the Garmin, I would manually map my runs using www.mapmyrun.com or the like. However, I usually never timed my workouts unless I remembered my stopwatch which almost never happened.
I have the heart rate monitor kit for the Garmin, but I am not very consistent in using it. Most of the time, I just exercise for fun even if I have a goal in mind. If I plan on doing a heart rate based workout, it makes it seem like more work than fun.
I found SportTracks shortly after getting the Garmin. The major complaint I have with the Garmin is that the software it comes with is horrible. It tracks your course, but the map it displays your course on has almost no roads on it.
SportTracks has a slew of features that make tracking workouts a breeze. It interfaces with most GPS devices to directly import the data. The Garmin 405 originally had a few extra steps to working, but as of the latest version it is finally a one step process. Some of the other features from SportTracks that I use extensively are:
Along with recording each workout, one or more pieces of equipment (shoes, bike, clothing, etc) can be tracked alongside the activity. This way, I can easily tell when I am reaching 500 miles in pair of shoes or if my bike is due for maintenance. The one shortcoming is that you can’t add something like a maintenance plan for a bike that will alert you when something is coming due.
Splits, Heart Rate, and Graphs Oh My
SportTracks includes a ton of options for graphing – from splits to heart rate to elevation. The main graphs I use are the splits and elevation charts. It is interesting to look at a strong workout and see decreasing splits or to see how much a certain hilly section of the course affects my time.
For a full list of features, check out SportTracks demo page.
SportTracks also includes a slew of plugins to extend the functionality beyond what the original developers offer. I don’t use many of the plugins, but the main ones I use allow me to export the workout data to other sites (specifically RunSaturday and BuckeyeOutdoors).
BuckeyeOutdoors and Run Saturday are the main web based exercise sites that I use. While I use SportTracks for the initial tracking of all of my workout data, it doesn’t offer an easy way to share that data online. By exporting the data to BuckeyeOutdoors and Run Saturday, I am easily able to include workout data in my blog without too much effort.
BuckeyeOutdoors is responsible for the fancy little widget in the right hand sidebar. It easily displays a summary of my week’s totals along with a link to my full training log. This is especially nice for when I am away from my computer and don’t have access to the SportTracks data.
Run Saturday isn’t as tightly integrated as it requires adding code to each of the individual post in which I want to include the data. However, by adding some simple code to the post, I am able to embed maps or summary data from the workouts.
An example of a map embedded from Run Saturday
The finally aspect of tracking my training is the actual blog. I am using a self hosted version of WordPress. I’m a geek by trade, so I liked the idea of having full control over the blog rather than running it on Blogger or WordPress’s hosted site. It is a bit more work to manage it myself, but I consider it fun.
I use Windows Live Writer to do all of my blogging. Windows Live Writer (WLW) is arguably one of the better products Microsoft has released. It can be used to post to a wide variety of blog platforms and is very user friendly. It makes including pictures and videos a breeze. WLW also supports plugins to extend its functionality. The two plugins I have found helpful are the Google Picasa Plugin and the Text Template Plugin. The Picasa plugin also easily linking to Picasa Web Albums which I use for hosting my pictures. However, I use the Text Template Plugin the most. It allows you to save sections of text that can be reused in future posts. For example, I have a “Race Results” template that inserts a table formatted for entering each of the details of my race results.
Well, hopefully I haven’t bored you too much with this non-training post, but I thought it would be fun to share how I track everything and how it all comes together. I’ll try and keep things less geeky and more exercisey in the future.