Triathlon Training Dashboard: Chart Two


In my first installment on the topic of creating a triathlon training dashboard, I discussed a few issues surrounding the data, some challenges with metrics such as tracking intensity and some feedback on a popular online workout tracking solution.

In the time since I published the last post, an entire triathlon season has gone by and I am a little more experienced on the fitness and triathlon analytics front.  So much so, I created TrainingMetrix, LLC, a company dedicated to producing simple, yet sophisticated, analytics for athletes, triathletes, beginners, and anyone interested in fitness analytics in general.

The Purpose

Now that the shameless plug for my company has been accomplished, let’s get back to our second installment of building a training dashboard in Excel. The concept behind chart two is simply a check to see if the amount of time you are investing per day to accomplish your goals is appropriate.  The question is, “How much time am I investing each day toward my triathlon goals?”

The Chart

Chart two for the triathlon training dashboard is “Average Workout Time Per Week” seen below:

Excel ChartAs you can see, the data shows that I only spend about 20 minutes per day training.   What does this mean?  Well, it means that my triathlon goal is only worth 20 minutes per day to me, at least according to my actual time since August 1.

Chart in Context

Of course, the question will come up regarding how much time should I spending working out per week?  For a full distance triathlon, such as an Olympic, about 12 hours per week is normal.  This translates to 1:42:51 per day.  Compare this to my 0:20:26 average and it is clear that I won’t be finishing any Olympic distance triathlons anytime soon and the goal is to start increasing the daily workout time to a minimum sprint distance of 8:00:00 per week or 1:08:34 per day.

Note that I have not created a stacked series by sport, I am only looking at overall time per week.   The high level metric wouldn’t show the same meaning broken down by sport, which make it difficult to conclude “yes” or “no” to the question of investment.   In the context of sport, the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I discussed in the first installment is appropriate for more detailed sport analysis.

But Wait…

But, you might asking yourself why the “Weekly Training Summary” chart I presented in the first part of this series wouldn’t accomplish the same task.  I thought about this as well and I think both charts deliver separate meaning.  The Weekly Training Summary chart gives perspective on where I am spending time and how it is trending over time against distance.  The “Average Workout Time Per Week” chart takes a simpler approach by asking “how much time am I investing in my training on a daily basis.” Both are similar, but they tell different stories.

The Next Installment Is…

With TrainingMetrix coming up to speed and I continue to experiment with fitness and workout analytics, there is a lot on this topic still to come.  In fact, I would like to address the issue of tracking workout intensity over time in a simple, yet sophisticated way that anyone can do without expensive software.

Until later…  Happy Triathloning!

Putting Ironman in Perspective


I want to be an Ironman.

Over the past three years, I transformed myself from a cubicle dwelling office potato to a sprint triathlete.  After finishing my first practice triathlon three weeks before my first real competitive event, I knew I had the multi-sport bug.  Life was never going to be the same again!  That was the goal, after all.

Looking back over my past eight sprint finishes and now, looking forward to the future, there is one place for me to end up.

Enter the Ironman.

To be an Ironman means that you have mastered the art of multi-sport endurance.  Swimming 2 miles, cycling 115, and then finishing by running a simple marathon.   This is not your typical walk in a park…  at least for many people on this planet we call Earth.

Sprint Triathlon vs 1/2 Ironman & Ironman

The triathlon chart above compares the distances of my previous sprint triathlons to distances of the Half Ironman (70.3) and Ironman (140.6).   My reaction to seeing this chart was along of the lines of, “I think the journey has really just begun.” My longest sprint was the UCSB Triathlon in March 2010 with a distance of nearly 20 miles, just a fraction of the 140 miles of a full Ironman.

My super hairy, audacious goal (shag) has been set…  see you at the Ironman finish-line in a few years.  But which one?

 

Mapping 2010 Workouts


One of the cool things about using a GPS enabled heart rate monitor, such as the Garmin 305, is that you can easily map your workouts.  Not only does this provide you with pace, distance, and elevation data, but it also gives you an entirely new source of motivation and inspiration.

Take the images below, for instance.  I took all of the data from Garmin Training Center and imported it into Google Earth.  Suddenly, in front of me was an entire year’s worth of workouts and races.   Wow…

Greater Santa Barbara and Goleta Area

You can see in the above map how concentrated my workouts are in certain areas of greater Santa Barbara/Goleta.  The waterfront of SB, to Goleta, the airport, and UCSB.  Included in this map are the UCSB Triathlon, Santa Barbara Triathlon Chardonnay 10-miler and my Jesusita Trail runs.

Looks I got around on foot and the bike, but one thing bugs me… how isolated the groups are. Perhaps, in 2011, I will have to bridge the gaps.

Carpinteria

I had some issues where Google Earth would not draw Carpinteria routes with Santa Barbara.  So, the above map is the area just off the right of the Santa Barbara/Goleta map.  Workouts in this area include the turn-around for long bike rides via the 150 and the Carpinteria Triathlon course.  Most of these workouts originated at East Beach in SB, but some started at the Carpinteria State Park.

Oxnard, Ventura and Points South

This area is where 2010 began, with the Boney Mountain Trail Run, which is mapped in the lower right of the map.  We also have the Ventura Triathlon, Strawberry Fields Triathlon and the Camarillo Duathlon (not as an official participant) mapped out as well.  Pretty exciting.

2011 Inspiration

Looking at these maps has already provided some inspiration for 2011.  As I noted before, I would love to start connecting the gaps between Goleta, Santa Barbara and Ventura.  This is going to mean climbing some gnarly hills, many, many more miles on foot and on the bike.  But then endurance athletes are known for their insane abilities.

I seriously can’t wait until next year, when I can review the 2011 maps and see where I have been.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get some training in outside of California!

Pace Strategy: A Saturday Run Workout Example


Pace strategy during any event, be it a triathlon, basketball game, or speed skating, plays a very large part in the outcome of your event.   Perform at a lower pace and you might be out run by your competitors without the ability to make a come back.  Perform too fast and you may exhaust yourself prematurely.   Finding the balance is where practice and analysis comes in.

My Run Workout

Saturday’s run was an endurance run, meaning slow and steady for a longer distance.  I was a little nervous going into this workout since the longest I had run following the sprained ankle was a 5k (33min).  This workout was expected to last one hour and cover at least 5 miles, hopefully more.   I wasn’t sure if my body was able to go the distance.

Pace, what is that?

I started out like I usually do, letting my body go as I don’t have much reference for pace when starting out.  It always feels like I am running slower than I really am.   And like usual, I was fast. Check out the split times in the chart below:

Let’s take a look at some highlights that you can see in the chart above:

  1. The first half of the run had a more sporadic pace than the second half. In fact, the second mile was more of an interval workout with fast pace for 0.25 mile and then a fast walk.
  2. The third split (2.35), was painfully slow as I was exhausted and walked up a long, shallow hill to Shoreline Park.
  3. In the latter half of the chart (3.35 and above), the more consistent helped moderate the heart rate, which was slowly climbing.
  4. The slowly climbing heart rate in the latter half of the chart, indicates that I was running above my true endurance pace.

One chart, lots to digest.  I think it proves that pace strategy is the largest determinant of success in running.  Had I taken it slower on the first half of the run, the latter would have been a lot easier and I wouldn’t have felt so exhuasted.

Why did it happen?

So why didn’t I take it easy?  Two reasons:

  1. I just started and didn’t have a sense of pace. – Yep, when I first start running, my body wants to go and it feels like I am running slower than I really am.  It takes a mile or two before I can start to moderate my own pace based on feel.  Solution: Run for ten minutes prior as warm-up and use my GPS to measure my pace initially.
  2. I listen to my iPod.  Listening to techno (Scooter’s “Jumping All Over the World”) gets me pumped up and I want to run at the same pace as the music.  It is rather hard to separate the body from the beat.  Solution: Find a slower paced songs for an endurance run.  Something like Podrunner mixes might work.

The next time you go out and run, keep in mind your pace strategy, it’ll save your run.  In fact, it could even save your triathlon.

2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon Results Plotted!


As an Analyst, I love data and I love understanding patterns.  So, after finishing my 7th triathlon, the Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint, recently, I decided to do some analysis.  Check out the scatter plot below: (results here)

If you participated in this event, can you find yourself in the chart?

Seems like that group placing at the end really set themselves apart from the rest of the finishers.  Regardless of their finishing place, I am sure they had fun and I congratulate them on finishing the triathlon.

Another interesting thing is how tight the top 50 finishers are. From swim to T1, through Bike, T2 and run, the difference between places is just a matter of seconds.

Also, look at the distribution of T1 vs T2 times.  T2 seems much more consistent across the participants than T1.  Perhaps changing shoes is a much more consistent event than, say, removing a wetsuit and getting dressed.   Fascinating…

One of things that I keep hearing about this year’s event was that it was slower.  I personally took four minutes longer to finish the “same” course as last year (however, I had the flu).  So, the Analyst in me wants to prove or disprove this feeling.  Was the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint slower than 2009?  You’ll just have to check back and see.