The Endurance Sport Training Data Dilemma

Today’s technology allows us to collect a lot of data during a workout.

The Endurance Sport Training Data Dilemma

If you’ve been reading this blog or anything on my website, you probably know I’m a fan of data. Why? As a coach, data makes my job easier. The more information I have about how a workout went, the better. The more insight I have into an athlete’s physiology, the more I can ensure they are training at the proper intensity for their goals.


Some athletes like to have the latest gadget to record pretty much everything. I certainly have my share: Stryd, Moxy monitorspower meters for my bikes, and Garmin 920XT to collect it all. But I also know athletes who compete or participate in events but use nothing more than a GPS to know how far they went. They don’t have interest in looking at graphs or charts; distance traveled is all they need.


So how much data should you collect? If you’re stuck in that data dilemma, here are a few things to think about.


  • If you have a coach, what data would they like to have?
  • Are you trying to improve with systematic approaches? If yes, you’ll need some kind of data for feedback to set up your training.
  • If you are looking at a particular data collection device because it seems cool, what will you do with the data? Collecting data is one thing, but it’s also important to act on that data if you’re trying to make improvements.
  • How bad do you want it? Typically, the more you are trying to improve or reach higher performance, the more data you’ll need. Yes, there are athletes who podium that might just use perceived effort to train, as there are recreational athletes who don’t care much about finishing time who collect a lot of data, but data becomes very useful if you’re trying to fine tune performance.


With technology constantly improving and getting more affordable, there is pressure to buy the latest thing. We can certainly get into a data overload situation. But maybe the latest thing is important for your goals.


Just like anything in life, if you want to make improvements (for sport that typically means get stronger and/or faster), you need to get measurements, enact a specific plan, and then remeasure. What specific metrics will make this happen for you?


The final thing I’d like to point out, especially if you are a data junkie, that it’s OK to leave the gadgets at home on occasion. It’s important to remember that we swim, bike, and/or run because we enjoy it! Be sure to be unplugged every so often and just enjoy the beauty of movement and the thrill of getting outside.



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Nicole Odell


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