In part one of these series we discussed what’s generally important when tracking training data. Here we explore the most important training data to track in each sport.
Which Metrics Matter in Each Sport?
Which ones matter and which ones are just extra noise? Here’s what to track in all three sports.
In cycling the gold standard of measurement is power which is objective. Secondary, or ideally in conjunction with this metric is heart rate. Input and output will show you the work and how you’re responding. Speed is a terrible metric to use. There is little reason for a triathlete to look at speed unless they have some sort of bet riding on the line.
Use power and heart rate during training. During your race, go primarily by heart rate and have a power range your will seek to adhere to instead of arbitrary magical number.
There are also a few practical details to adhere to in order to make sure you can trust your data:
Always zero your power meter. Failing to do so with make your data invalid and invariably lead to the aforementioned “I once did something I didn’t really do” scenario.
Select include zeros in your measuring device. Sure, it looks cooler to have a higher number without zeros but the fact is you did coast so it’s telling you a white lie.
“Keep your power curve clean” by only including data from one recording device. Many devices are precise to themselves but their accuracy from one to another varies. It does you no good to hit 200 watts on a 20 minute benchmark effort, then hit 220 watts on your indoor trainer. Not only are you not necessarily not better, you won’t even know if you’re better which can be worse.
While the technology exists to track every lap of your swim, to utilize drill mode, to play swim GOLF with reckless abandon without having to count strokes, and myriad other functions, do you really need it? Let’s be honest. It’s anathema to suggest to a ‘real’ swimmer that they use a swim watch. So I would say it depends. I don’t usually a push using a watch to a former high school or college swimmer who can lap me on a 200. But using the basic functions of a swim watch can help you drive yourself to work towards continuous improvement.
If you swim alone alone and tend to be the type of person who times hundreds by gazing at a distant wall clock with foggy goggles after leaving on the :37, then reports their 100s as ‘about’ 1:30’s, then you could probably benefit from a swim watch. If you swam as a kid and can recite your lifetime PRs in different age groups and regularly swim in a masters or other structured program with other motivated adults, then it might not be necessary.
Running watches have come a long way since the original Garmin and are a pretty common technology for runners whether they consider themselves ‘serious’ or not. I will typically advise competitive people to ditch the watch if they tend to worry about hitting a certain pace on their easy runs. I love it, but it can be bad if you tend to get overly caught up in running faster than your friends. Run easy without fear. And don’t be the person who has to explain why they’re not hitting their race pace on easy run in the title of their workout session.
So while the technology is out there to track literally every step, stroke, heartbeat, mile, etc., it’s not of equal importance. Take the time to truly look at what data is important, and how you mentally and physically respond to using data. Meaningful data collection and analysis can drive your performance to a new level.