Thursday, February 12, 2009

Go Vote &Training Gadgets

OK... before I get into this post I want to rally some support for my homeboy Luke. He is trying to win an entry into the Breck Epic stage race. It's going to be a killer race. I have been lucky enough to train and race (and trade sports nutrition product for wine... his family owns a winery!) with Luke the last couple of years. I have seen how hard he has worked to transform himself from a triathlete (xterra/ironman) into one hell of an endurance mountain bike racer. He's worked his ass off! Big things are in his future. I have no doubt.

Just check out the race page, Luke's profile and blog, and vote for him!

MJ commented on my blog last week asking me to post about the tools (gadgets) I use to collect training data and analyze it. So here it is.

The two things I use are a Garmin Forerunner 205 (it was a 305 until I "lost" it) and PowerTap. I use the Garmin for all my running and mountain bike workouts and the PowerTap is on my road bike. I find both of the pretty useful but I am definitely not a slave to the numbers while training and use the date more after the fact to track progress... or lack of.

I also use a couple of different programs to track my training and analyze the data.

1. (online training log): I have been using Training Peaks for 3 years now so it has all my data from pretty much when I started training. I use it to schedule my training and it's really easy to use. I also like the fact that I can upload the data straight from the Garmin and PowerTap so I don't have to manually enter any bike or run data.

2. Garmin Training Center: This is the software that comes with the Garmin. It's ok. I just use it check the mile splits of a run or the total elevation gain from rides and runs. It's also where I get a lot of the graphs that I post on my blog.

A typical run. This is from the lululemon run on Wednesday night. The girls go for it!

A mtb ride. Also from Wednesday.

3. Training Peaks wko+ (formerly cycling peaks): This is the software I use with Power Tap. I used to also upload my run data too, but that became too much and I don't really think rTSS is useful as it's pretty generic. There a lot of customizable graphs so it's really easy to track your cycling progress based on power numbers over of the course of time.

4. I also upload some my workouts from my Garmin to Motion Based. I don't use it to track my training or analyze any workouts, but it does provide some good graphs and lets you share you workout data online.

1. Garmin Forerunner 205


First of all, I never display on the pace on the Garmin while running. The only thing I display is total, time lap time, and sometimes distance. Most of the running I do is off road on undulating trails so pace to me is irrelevant. I'll check out the mile splits after the fact but don't put too much thought into it. When I do an interval running workout I don't base it on pace, but on RPE. I know what hard is, what race pace is, and what easy is. I don't don't need satellite connectivity to tell me how hard I am working. When I do test workouts I turn off the auto lap (set for 1 mile) and just use the lap timer to get the splits whether it be a hill climb or some kind of interval.

moutnain bike.
I pretty much use it as a glorified bike computer. I just display time, lap time (if I am doing intervals) and distance.

2. Power Tap

This has been a very useful "gadget for me" in terms of tracking my progress. I have been using it for a couple of years now, have collected a lot of data, and the numbers don't lie. I really like this for hill repeat workouts too. Having the power displayed and a goal in mind gives me a carrot to shoot for. All is display is current power, cadence, and time. When I am doing a hill intervals (such as the one I posted last week) it makes it really easy to know if I am going hard enough, riding with the right cadence, and doing the right amount to work. I just lock in at my desired cadence/power and go.

Here's a custom PMC (Performance Management Chart) with some additional peak power numbers . This is stuff is cool to look at and does offer on insight into my training, but I don't have the time to sit down crunch data... nor do I want to. Training is more fun!

Other than hill workouts and tesing a good example of how the power tap helps is on a tempo ride I have added to my weekly schedule. I am pretty good at climbing whether it be long grinding climbs or short power climbs. My weakness in cycling is sustained power on the flats and rollers. On a lot of my road rides I just cruise. So with this workout I have been trying to push the pace a bit. So every week I am going to shoot to finish this loop a little faster and with higher average and normal power. I know it's nothing groundbreaking of sceintific, but I think it will do the trick. I am calling this the "Cru Jones paper route workout". Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean.... "and when I make 7:15, I'll shoot for 7:10".

Here's the data from the last two weeks. it shows some improvement.

Distance: 26 miles
Work: 914 kj
Duration: 1:34:33
Norm Power: 191

Distance: 26 miles
Work: 940 kJ
Duration: 1:32:59
Norm Power: 196
Power (avg): 172

That's it for Gadgets. They definitely help with tracking progress over time and test workouts, but I think stressing about the "numbers" too much during a session is a bad thing. Enough of this... time to go run.


beth said...

good one. i'm always impressed at your consistent ability to track and show progress. its like a data diary.

on the flip side of our household- i need to eventually convert to this stuff if i want to get better (i use only a watch and i estimate a lot, no HRM, no powertap, no Garmin and the only graphs i ever use i steal form james if we did the same route.) I DID use a HRM/Garmin while marathon training and it made me faster. it also made me feel "pressure".
i need to track my bike progress (or lack thereof!) and stop hiding :), but i still have the "can't afforf a power tap" excuse! okay. i'm late for work.

Sean Crichton said...

"I didn't know I was a run on the race track for them funny little bicycles"
"Beam me up, Scotty"

Oh and watch out for that garbage truck - it'll throw you off every time!!

Jason said...

Ya I have been following your blog for some time and have been meaning to ask the same question in terms of your gadgets. Good read! Somewhat along those lines, how is your nutrition going? I remember reading a while ago about your nutrition and was wondering if you planned on switching things up for the upcoming season or to sticking to what you have done in past? IE. more carbs, fats, or protein??

Luke said...

thanks bro...i appreciate it!!

Pedal Circles said...

I'm jealous of your power tap!

Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...

awesome post man!

using the gadgets for help and not being a slave to them is pretty smart!

what wheel do you have your PT built in and do you race with it too?

Shan said...

Voted for Luke - DONE!

Good idea on not looking at the pacing with the Garmin. I find that sometimes it is all over the place (or my pace actually IS all over the place), and I find it distracting when I am trying to keep a consistent effort - perceived effort and feel are a lot better for that (for me).

Great post! I'd love to have a powertap someday...

MJ said...

Thanks for the details - sounds like you've got it down to a pretty easy-to-maintain practice for collecting the data.

I need to sit down and learn how to use a bunch of the features of my Garmin and find the cd-roms and get with the program. I did the usaul thing where you just grab it and push buttons until it sort of works...

I voted for Luke too... hope he gets in.


j.p. patrick said...

Whew! Those damn Lululemon girls are fast! I love my Garmin so much! Like you, I have it set to capture mile splits. I have total time, distance, pace per mile, and HR shown on the display. I like the "beep" feature when you pass through a mile and can look down as it displays the last mile in the center for a few moments. I was a slave to that beep in Portland as I watched it slowly drop as I started to struggle!

Ryan Denner said...

voting - done!

I "use" the same toys, but also dont "use" them at the same time (geez, i have been hanging out with CV too much)...

Zippy said...

Word. My Forerunner 305 and Training Peaks have really helped me improve my fitness.

Wish I could afford a Power Tap. :(

Sarah said...

I will totally go vote.

This was a great post. It makes me feel a little better about my stance that one should NOT be a slave to the numbers because ultimately one should know their body and know how to LISTEN to their body, not the numbers. So very cool!

I would like to get a power tap someday because I think it would help my cycling but I STILL don't have a garmin!

FatDad said...

Word. Walsh, you're the man when it comes to graphs and gadgets.

Adam said...

Interesting. I haven't used any of the online tracking tools but I like how they are there even if my laptop gets hit by a bus.

Although, I will admit, I AM a slave to the data!

Bill said...

Sounds like we look at the same things.

But toss Garmin Training Center (GTC) out the window. A free application called SportTracks will let you analyze the same data a gazillion different ways. It's what GTC should strive to be. And did I mention it's free?

Anonymous said...

Try SportTracks. It`s the best program for the Garmin Forerunner.