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Set yourself up for success by tracking your training.
If you’re new to the sport or don’t currently use a training log, now is a great time to start. There are a number of benefits to building a training history and tracking your progress as you continue to build fitness.
Why use a training log? A log allows you to build a history that will help you chart a path toward success. It’s helpful for reviewing performance patterns and trends and pinpointing what worked (and what didn’t) in your training.
What do I record? If you use any sort of training metrics such as a heart rate monitor, a power meter or any other GPS tracking device, using it each time you exercise will allow you to track improvements. If you prefer to keep things basic and train by feel, simple notes about perceived effort, how you fueled, distance and time can be helpful when doing a holistic review of your training. You can also use training software to accurately create zones in each discipline and analyze your data for better context.
Which log should I use? Do you care about the social component, ease of use, analytic offerings? Do you have a coach? These popular options run the complexity gamut:
Google doc, Excel or just a notebook
If you want to keep things simple, log your training in a basic notebook or in an Excel spreadsheet. If you want to have interactions with your coach, using a Google Doc allows him or her to see your updates in real time and edit the plan as needed. Having your training attached to Gmail also means you can log in anywhere to see your workout.
In it for the social aspect or competition with friends? Strava blends the social side with just enough analysis to track your progress. It’s not the “log” to use if you want to plot out your next few months of training, but it works well for those athletes who track mileage with their phones to avoid the constant uploading. Plus, how fun is it to see if you beat your friend up that last climb? Strava.com
With robust features for analyzing data, Training Peaks is ideal for interactions and analysis between you and another person (your coach). It is well supported and features are constantly being added that make it easy to access data. The basic level is free, and the premium level (with additional features) is about $120 a year. Trainingpeaks.com
New Australian software company Today’s Plan can show you more than 100 metrics, ranging from general (average pace) to specific (peak five-second power output). In addition to allowing you to upload files to analyze, you can simply select one of the site’s training plans, which can sync with your calendar. Try it out for two weeks free of charge, and then pay $7.95 per month for an analytics subscription to track progress. Although it started as a cycling-focused platform—the Trek Factory Racing team uses it—founders are in the works to fully infiltrate the triathlon space this year. Todaysplan.com.au