Monday, November 03, 2014

Triathlon training logs: 6 popular options

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I want to get more serious about my triathlon training and I think I need to start keeping better records (and maybe even planning my workouts better).  The problem is, I have a terrible history with this. I have bought lots of those little weekly calendars with the goal of making them a workout log, only to abandon them in a few days.

I asked the women in the Athena Triathletes group I belong to for suggestions.  Here are some of the more popular ones and let you know what I have decided (for now) to use:

Garmin Forerunner 910: This looks like a seriously cool piece of equipment, and it also has automated workout logging. Most of the serious triathletes I know have something like this for collecting data on their workouts. It can be purchased with a heart-rate monitor as well.  I think this is super-cool, but it's $399 (and up), so it's not going to happen. And even though I love gadgets, I'm pretty clumsy with this kind of thing and probably wouldn't use it to its full capacity.

Plain Paper and Pencil: On the opposite end of the spectrum, this was a surprisingly popular method, especially considering that triathletes tend to love their gear. It makes sense, though, that with multiple workouts and multiple sports, a plain old notebook might have more flexibility to record any information necessary and, of course, the cost can't be beat.

Calendar or Planner: This is the method that I have tried (and failed with) the most often. There are so many beautiful weekly planners out there, why not just use one of these, which already have dated pages? The problem is that for some reason, this method just never works for me. One problem with these is that the weekends usually have the least space, when most athletes I know do their longer, more complex workouts on the weekends.

The Triathlete's Training Diary: Of all the pre-printed training logs out there, this was, not surprisingly, the most popular with triathletes. This is designed to prompt the athlete to record the data that could be the most useful in spotting problems (resting heart rate, weight, fatigue, injuries). Unlike some other training diaries, this allows space for two workouts per day, which is typical for triathletes juggling three sports plus strength and flexibility workouts. I was tempted by this option.

TrainingPeaks App: This app seems to be very popular because it not only allows an athlete to log any kind of workout with lots of detail, it also allows them to share their workouts with a coach or a training partner. There is a free version and a premium version, and though it looks like the free version offers a lot of features, including syncing information from a Garmin device, there are a lot of analysis tools that are only available in the premium version.

This looks like a great app and it is one of the options I am considering. I'm thinking that it looks a little complex for a beginner, though, and I might not need all the tools it offers.

BeginnerTriathlete App: I decided to start with the mobile app offered by, which was recommended by several of the athletes on the forum. I have always liked the BeginnerTriathlete site, which isn't the most attractive website out there but does have great information. It looks simple, while still offering all the features I think I'd want, including body measurements and self-ratings of sleep, fatigue, and soreness. It seems flexible enough to add any kind of workout. It also allows Garmin sync capability, so if I ever hit the lottery, I guess I'll be ready.

I just logged my swim from last night and I liked that it had an open notes field so I could put in the workout I did along with my general notes about how it felt.

I think it's more important to choose a method and get tracking than to choose the most perfect tracking method ever. What training diary do you use? Do you find it fun to log your workouts or does it just feel like a big chore?

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07