I think this is the latest I have ever been in writing my blog but alas here we go. This week I got the suggestion for this weeks topic from my friend Mike 'Robo' Robinson. Robo is attempting his first Iron Man this weekend at Iron Man New Zealand and I think he will dominate. He is one of the hardest working athlete I know so if you get the chance visit his Instagram and wish him good luck.
So many people especially people new to the sport train themselves without a coach. They like to make sure that triathlon is a good fit and also see what they are capable of. They are also probably more concerned with finishing than going fast. What I want to write about this week is how beneficial it is to keep track of your training when you train without a coach.
There is so much technology out there these days. Whether you use Tom Tom, Garmin (I think the best) or even just your phone, you are able to collect all kinds of information from your training. Why is this important? It gives you the opportunity to look at performance and measure success and failure. When I first started training I had nothing. The first piece of equipment I got for myself was a Garmin Edge 500 for my bike. Well, once I started using it I was instantly hooked. It is amazing how motivating it can be when you are out training to know that there will be a record of your performance. You might be tempted to slack off or cruise but you know that you will have to look at the file and now... Starve... come on, everyone else will see it too.
Soon after I got the Garmin Edge 500 I downloaded an app on my phone called Endomondo. I would use this app every time I ran and would be excited when I would get to the end of the run to see whether my speed or time was faster than last time. In a sense it was like I was racing myself. As I started to use these tools more and more I found that the way I trained also changed. When I was a bit tired I would push myself to do a session. Not because I thought it would make me a little faster but because I had genuinely started to care (and become obsessed) with my training log. Seriously, ask my wife and she will tell you all I talked about was how many kms I logged that week or what my average pace was. I was hooked. After 12 months I invested in the Garmin Forerunner 310XT and this meant that I was able to not only see my distance, pace and time, I was also able to measure my heart rate. This was the next evolution in my training. I used to run into T2 and throw the Garmin on and just use it on the run. But again I found it had a big change on my training and performance.
Now I can assure you that this weeks entry is more than just a pug for Garmin products and Endomondo. I found the data that I had incredibly motivating. Not only that, when I did sign up with a coach I was able to provide him with all of my past training data by simply telling him to check out my Endomondo profile. But what about for you reading this. How can you use technology to improve your racing or your weight loss? It is simple. Technology holds you accountable. You cannot cheat it. It is FACT. About 6 months ago I got a Samsung Gear Fit with my new phone. Big deal right? What I discovered was:
- It is useless as a training tool
- It made me motivated to walk
I hate walking. More than almost anything. But since I got the watch and it gave me my 10,000 step a day target. I found myself walking around the block to hit the number. Maybe I am a little OCD but if you are reading this and lack motivation maybe it is something worth considering.
If you are an athlete training by yourself. You can use the data to develop effective training plans. You can go jump in the pool and instead of just swimming. You can analyse past performance and decide that if you want to improve you have to hit a certain number. It means you can plan your training in a sustainable and smart way which will not result in injury or sickness. It means you can check your heart rate before your session and see how it responds during your session and tell you if you need to continue or take it easy for the day. Basically it can do as much or as little as you want it to.
Since I have become a little more serious with my racing I have had a Garmin Forerunner 910 and not I have the Garmin Forerunner 920XT. I love it. It is the most important piece of training equipment I have. I am able to tell my coach exactly how fast I went. I am able to ensure that my heart rate stays within the zone prescribed and I am able to race smarter because I know how my body works. I also have a sweet training journal that literally goes back years!
While technology will never replace the expertise that a coach has, it is still an incredibly important part of training these days. Through utilising that technology in conjunction with the many different training programs you are able to develop as an athlete in a sustainable and smart manner. You may be like me and find it incredibly motivating too. So have a look. Whether it is just an app on your phone or a basic heart rate monitor. Give it a go. If it works for you great! If not, there are probably many poor triathletes on line who are waiting to pick up a bargain!
To my racing now. I have my 'annual' Olympic Distance race this weekend. Tri the Gong on the NSW South Coast. Last year I went 2:14 and I believe that I have made huge improvements over the last 12 months. I am hoping to go sub 2:10 but am really really hoping to run sub 40 for the 10kms. Tune in next week to find out how I go.
I do need to state here that I am a massive fan of Garmin and they are the only products I use. I am sure there are other products out there that do similar or the same things that my watch does. But I am happy to recommend Garmin to anyone. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.
Stay safe, train smart and remember to TRI!