Ask the Coach – Online Data Tracking
Kera asks: I have just started using my garmin 305 and have been uploading it to mapmyride.com. Is there something about Training Peaks you like better?
This question came about after I posted a workout of mine that I had uploaded to TrainingPeaks. I use TrainingPeaks as both an athlete and a coach because I find it fits my needs with how I like to keep track of my data. But let’s look at some other of the free options with regards to the following features I think are important:
- Ease of use, simple and clear interface
- Data entry – manual or upload from device?
- Summary information/graphs/totals
- Nutrition logging
- Social networking features (helps with motivation and accountability)
- Training Plan integration
1) MapMyRide.com (also MapMyRun, MapMyTri, etc). MapMyRide/Run/Tri started as an application where people could map their exercise/training routes and share them. I use the site to map out potential rides or to search for new places to ride. They also have a training log feature that links in to social networking sites like twitter and facebook. You can also have friends through the site. Although I haven’t used the training log except for uploading a file to test it out tonight, it seems straightforward to upload data and log comments. But I didn’t find a link to a summary page, where I can view workout totals over time on MapMyRide. But MapMyTri does have it. One good thing about these sites is that you just create one account and can log in to any of the MapMy”” sites. The data is there that you upload but the interfaces are slightly different based on the needs of the athletes. This site is always a little slow to load for me, but perhaps it speeds up with less ads if you purchase the Gold version? I didn’t see nutrition logging or training plan integration. Cost is free but upgradeable with payment.
2) Active Trainer We all know active.com as that is the place where we register for a lot of our events. They also have many training plans for purchase, useful articles from sport experts, and of course also a training log. You can buy training plans from them and they integrate straight into the calendar. Regarding their training logs, it seems easy to use if you are just adding workout information. There are calculators and other slightly more advanced tracking (more than just workout totals) that you can use. Heart rate zones are available to track and you can also track daily vitals. Summary reports are available through a Reports link. I didn’t see a social networking share link or a place to upload device (heart rate or GPS) data. Nutrition tracking appears to be a separate feature. Cost is free but upgradeable with payment.
3) BeginnerTriathlete.com This site is another huge resource for triathletes. There are forums, training plans, articles, and training logs, gear reviews, and routes. You can easily log swim, bike, run, and strength workouts in the calendar, along with other sports. The same page prompts for health and daily vital statistics. A lot of data entry has fields prompted, but I didn’t see a way to upload device data. Weekly, monthly and annual totals and trends seem easy to track with buttons to click on. There is also a place you can put goals, personal records, HR zones and equipment, save links, and blog. You can also log nutrition on the same calendar, but I didn’t dig deeper into this feature. I didn’t see any facebook or twitter links, but BeginnerTriathlete.com is its own social network. Cost is free but upgradeable with payment.
4) Daily Mile This site is definitely for the social networker. Workouts are logged and shared on the site and you can get Daily Mile friends. Workouts are shared on a feed and are easily shared on facebook or twitter. Training statistics are easily viewable and this interface is probably the simplest to use. It also has the fewest ads. Not as prominent but available are routes, forums and challenges among users. You can also “motivate” others by sending them a brief message with a cute icon that posts to their “wall of motivation.” For the athlete who likes communicating with others and some data but nothing complex, this is a good site. I did not see any nutrition tracking on the site. I also don’t see a data upload feature. Cost is free. I didn’t see an upgrades option.
5) TrainingPeaks I use this site because of the good integration for coaches and athletes and the data analysis it allows for is very useful. Data entry is straightforward with either manual entry or upload from a device. Nutrition is easily tracked and meals can be saved. There are multiple display options (calendar, spreadsheet) and a customizable dashboard for the data that I want to see. This site is probably the most complex with the most available features, but I found them easy to use. Graphs and maps and data from workouts are clear. Training and meal plans can be purchased and are integrated into the site.They just upgraded the social networking features which allows more automatic sharing of workouts and meals if you so desire. Cost is free but upgradeable with payment.
There are other sites out there for use, but these are some common ones. I went to Runner’s World magazine to see if they have a training log, and sure enough, they do. In fact, theirs is powered by TrainingPeaks. (Another thing I like about TrainingPeaks is that the look can be customizable for your business branding.)
But if you are looking for a place to keep track of your workout data, think about your needs. Do you want a free interface or are you willing to pay for upgraded features. Are you logging lots of device data? In that case the device file upload would be useful. Are you looking to share your workouts with other users? Or easily on facebook or twitter? Do you want to be able to track nutrition data? Talk to other athletes and visit the sites to see which suits your needs the best, as there is definitely one out there. Even the “old fashioned” pen and paper method can work!
What do you use to log your data – leave your comments below? If you have other questions that you would like to see answered in the ‘Ask the Coach’ column you can post them in the comment section. You can also contact Coach Nicole on facebook, twitter or via email at email@example.com.
Coach Nicole is the founder and head coach for NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness, a Colorado-based endurance sport coaching company. She is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and also coaches triathlon for Team In Training. Learn more at http://neoendurancesports.com/.