Monday, January 24, 2011

Fitness Metrics Part Two

In Part One of the Fitness Metrics series, we looked at all the different data you can collect about your workouts, including running pace, weight, body fat percentage and more.

Lots of good stuff.

In order to make sense of all that data coming in, you need a reliable way to track it. Depending on your personal preference there are tons of different options available to help you log everything. Here are a few that I'm experimenting with.



Daily Mile:

Lots of fitness bloggers swear by Daily Mile to track their fitness metrics and it seems to be really popular, so I decided to open an account to check it out. So far I've only logged one workout, but I really like the big, bold graphics Daily Mile provides you to give feedback on your workouts and the mileage you've run. I also like that you can customize the form when you log a workout to include information about the weather, your perceived level of exertion and more. Those are all major factors that play into the success of a workout and it's important to track them. In the past, I've never been good at sticking with a tracking system like this, so I'm curious to see if I'll be able to get into the habit.

Garmin Connect:

I love Garmin Connect because it's so easy. Any time you download information from your Garmin device, you can upload it to the Connect site, which will give you instant feedback on your pace, the total distance you've run over time and more. I like that you can pull reports with all sorts of information and export them to an Excel spreadsheet for further number crunching. The obvious drawback here is that you can only track workouts where you've worn your Garmin. So if you take a BodyPump class or decide to run without your Garmin one day, the system can't track that.

Spreadsheets:

Spreadsheets are one of my favorites ways of tracking fitness metrics, and Google Docs is by far my favorite spreadsheet program because you can access your spreadsheets on any computer anywhere. You can input any data you want into a spreadsheet whether it be weight, body fat, the number of hours of sleep you get each night, etc and have the program generate all sorts of charts and graphs that show trends over time. Spreadsheets are a great visual kick in the pants because the charts and graphs make it very easy to see trends over time.

Paper Log:

If tracking your fitness metrics on the computer isn't your thing, you can always use a simple paper log. There are tons of different varieties available at bookstores, and Runner's World sends on each year if you have s subscription to the magazine. I've never used my paper log before, but I'm going to try the Runner's World one this year to see if I have better luck sticking with a paper log or a computerized method. On paper you have the flexibility to jot down whatever metrics you want to keep track of. The major drawback though is that you can't generate any sort of chart or visualize display of that data over time.



At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what tool you pick to do your tracking. The most important thing is that you select something that you can stick with and that fits into your lifestyle. A fancy system won't do you any good if you're not actually using it to capture and track your fitness metrics. Pick something that works for you and begin logging that data.

Coming next in the Fitness Metrics series, we'll take a look at what to do with all this data we've been collecting and logging. We'll look at ways to analyze it and how you can use it to improve your fitness and your training.

How do you currently track your workouts? Are you a paper or computer tracking person?

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