Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Techno Road Runner

I've always kept a training log. I go back and look at things from time to time, but most of my thoughts actually come out of just sitting down and writing how the day's training went. In the field of engineering, a key practice is the 'retrospective'. It's a time when you reflect on the past and try to learn something from it. It's not really specific to engineering. I think it's a good thing to do with any endeavor that you might take on in life. Specifically for running - it creates some 'quiet time' to collect my thoughts and benefit from the following:

  1. The experience of writing it down takes me out of the discomfort and emotional aspects of the workout itself, and puts you into more of an analytically detached mode where I can critically look at what went right or wrong and what is working vs what isn't. 
  2. I can keep track of splits, PR's etc - and see either improvement or degradation based on training.
  3. I can write race notes to reflect on later, and this helps in future race planning (for example - I learned a lot from Bolder Boulder 10K that I then applied to the Loveland Classic 10K. I can also go back and read a race that I'm going to repeat - like Georgetown 1/2 - and that will help me better recall the course and prepare.
  4. Writing it down leverages the 'guilt' factor, especially with a coach. I know someone else is going to see whether I completed the workout and hit my splits - and I better have good reasons for not doing it. Sometimes in the middle of a tough workout - I push harder because I don't want to have to report weakness :-)

When I was bike racing, I kept a written log. I went through a spectrum of very structured to just writing whatever.

For the past few years running, I've printed off a table of workouts and kept it on the inside cabinet door. I also use that to track the mileage on all of the shoes I have (more on that later).

I've tried using some of the advance programs out there like those available from Training Peaks, Runners World, Active.com, etc.. but for me they just require a bit too much work and are far too detailed and structured. The graphs and tools are great - I'm just not *that* analytic!

Since enlisting a coach in January, I decided to come up with an easy way to share my training log. I've been using Google Docs - which worked pretty well, but now recently I converted over to using a Blog.

I started playing around with the idea a while back in my head and it actually came out better than I had thought. I think the Blog format works really well because it's simple, can be read from computers and mobile devices easily, and can even RSS feed to my coach's eMail if she wanted. Because you can customize the page, it also allows me to add some structure to it - more than just a collection of documents. The navigation to any month or week is much easier, and I can include static pages on my racing calendar and PRs - as well as other things that I haven't quite thought of yet.

It's not incredibly interesting to read - it's meant more as just a communication mechanism between me and my coach. My intent for talking about it here was just to share one approach that seemed to work out pretty well for logging workouts. If you start reading it on a regular basis, I'm flattered and have at it - but I'm warning you; it's boring, dry stuff..... Ok, now I'm nervous!!

Anyway, here it is:

http://kevintraininglog.blogspot.com/

Related topic - Managing the Training Calendar
For upcoming training, my coach sends me a schedule over eMail. I then just break it out into 'All Day Events' on Google Calendar by day - one for each workout. That allows me to push them automatically to my iPad, work computer (Thunderbird and Outlook both support Internet Calendars) and sync them to my Android phone natively. It's pretty nice to have my workout schedule always handy like that, but maintained in just one location. If my coach (or others) wanted to see my upcoming workouts, I could always just share the calendar with them and they could easily incorporate. In fact, if I was a coach, I'd really look at standardizing a Blog template and using Google Calendar to centralize all training info for my runners. But I'm kind of a geek.

Let me know if you want any more information on the technical details and I'm happy to help with any of these!

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