Why So Many “Plans”?


For the last few weeks, I have had the honor of vacationing in Santa Fe, NM for rather cheap.  A good friend needed someone to take care of their house while they were away and I said “yes.”  So, I have been able to clear my head in the “Land of Enchantment” and take in both the physical beauty and the spiritual beauty of the place.  Lets just say I don’t want to leave.

As my brain turns back toward reality, I was thinking about the different things I need to start tracking as I head back to the real world of crime, concrete, smog, and sirens.  I made a list and was shocked at the amount of planning I was considering, let alone tracking and refining.   Oh yeah, these don’t even take into account the checklists which would proudly support the plans.

Some of these “plans” include:

  • nutrition/meals
  • exercise
  • time management
  • to do lists and actions
  • contacts
  • hobbies
  • PRM (personal relationship management)

Suddenly it hit me as I chowed down on a spicy fish taco (the gas hit me later) that I was building the manual to life.  What??  Really??  Have I reduced myself to the point that I need these “documents” to manage my life?  Maybe I have.

Read about my horrific year so far, A Significant Detour

life pulls in too many directions, make a planThen I thought of a client of mine from my house sitting days in SoCal who tracked everything through Microsoft Outlook.  Not only did he have detailed contacts up the wazoo, but he had calendar reminders, repetitive tasks, and even files embedded into this instance of Outlook.   His life, his household was managed through this interface.  It was brilliant, but also touchy. I realized how touchy it was when he asked my how to backup his outlook.pst file.  Even more touchy when a new version of Outlook came out and the import was corrupted.  But such is the digital life.  Living at the perils of ones and zeros, power outages, and corrupt files.  On the other-hand, the analog life is clunky, slow, non-searchable (is that a word?) and given character as you spill coffee on the paper.

You may be interested in reading my post, Just Push Through It!

It is possible to manage a complete life within some type of productivity tool, digital or analog. (more in this later).  Sometimes life is simply that complex.  It isn’t so much that one has failed to keep track or manage things on their own.  Feeling the need to plan everything, or most things, is simply a strategy to relieve stress.   When one records items on a piece of paper, they relieve the brain from having to remember them.  Writing things down (or typing them into a program) is freeing yourself to enjoy many other things the world has to offer.

So, let’s get planning!  Go mad with the lists, the calendars, the reminders, and the non-sense before we miss another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

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!