A number of posts back, I talked about the creation of a triathlon training dashboard that would help me track my workouts and training status. I viewed the creation of this dashboard as an essential part of my training, after all keeping logs and journals during any fitness journey can provide inspiration and help identify key areas of focus. Keeping track of your workouts, goals, and performance is a very important part of triathlon training.
As an Analyst by day, I understand the importance of tracking metrics that drive success as well as drilling down into the meaning behind them. Just like when I drill down into Sales to understand a change in pattern, drilling down into my own life and training is just as important to help me do my best at the next triathlon.
The original goal of the dashboard was to summarize all of the different components that drive performance in a triathlon or workout and track them as I worked toward my goals. My thought was to take these key metrics of workout intensity, duration, nutritional intake, and even life components like stress and sleep quality, record them in Excel and have them automatically roll-up into a series of charts. The training dashboard would then be a combination of nutrition and workouts in a single view that helped me understand how I was tracking toward goals. And, if I was off pace for goals, a drill down capability to figure out where I was going wrong… was it nutrition? was it lack of sleep? what was causing my lack of true performance?
While the dashboard I was building in Excel was always considered to be a work in progress, it never developed much beyond helping me understand:
- how much time was spending on training by sport
- how my running pace and cycling speed was improving
- what my focus was for the week
- when my next race occurred
The bulk of my nutrition and workout data was still being analyzed in Training Peaks as Premium subscriber. While the Training Peaks solution offers a great way to summarize and share workouts and nutrition data, it does not do a very good job of putting it all together. Each area of focus still reside in their respective charts and it is very difficult to correlate a poor diet back to a decrease in performance.
As I continue to develop my personal Excel training dashboard, I must recognize where I have been struggling and why it is not easy to create a brilliant dashboard for triathletes or any other athlete for that matter. Here is why:
- Capturing workout intensity is a mathematical formula that is very difficult to capture. In fact, Training Peaks developed their own proprietary formula that uses a number of data points to calculate a Training Stress Score (TSS) that rates the workout. The best I have come up with is a factor of time and heart rate. This is the biggest obstacle.
- Capturing life variables such as stress, sleep quality and positive visualization in an objective manner is difficult. While I can easily record a point score for each variable in Excel and average them in my dashboard, the score I assign is based on a relative feeling against yesterday or the day before. Since I have never experienced “worst” stress, how do I know what it really is?
- Normalizing component scores so they roll up into a single score. My life metrics, nutritional scoring, and workout intensity scoring are all on scales. To roll them up, I need to make sure each metric is weighted correctly.
Solving these issues will help me cross some major hurdles and reinvigorate life into my existing dashboard. I hope to, in the future, automate and possibly market the dashboard to my readers. I really think that Training Peaks and other solutions have yet to truly deliver on triathlon training analytics, let alone deliver a meaningful triathlon training dashboard. After all, Training Peaks was built for cyclists, not triathletes.
*Update, 10/24/2011 – After working on various training dashboards in Excel, I decided it was time to share them with the public. I founded a company called TrainingMetrix, LLC, with the purpose of bringing simple, yet sophisticated training analysis to athletes of all types, include triathletes. Check out our community for more information.
If you are interested in helping me out with this project and/or interested in testing a beta dashboard, please email me at: aricrmh ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com.
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Stay tuned for more exciting things to come!