Archive for September, 2009

Fitness tracking and working towards a goal.

Friday, September 11th, 2009

It’s common for people to set themselves goals for the year, particularly in sports. I’m not very good at this, but at the beginning of the year I set myself two, to run 40 minutes for a 10km race, and to run 90 minutes for a half marathon. Neither were particularly tough goals, in fact I completed the first without training for it more as an incidental. The second I’ve yet to be motivated to attempt, particularly as it does require me to properly train for it.

I’ve spent the year essentially goalless, but still pretty committed to getting fitter, getting better, and training. It’s tough to know if the lack of directoin has held me back at all, but without goals you only do what you enjoy. Fortunately I enjoy training, so have done a fair bit. Recently though I’ve started to lose my way.

I raced the Pearson Jaunts 5 day stage race at the end of June, it would’ve made a good goal for the year, but I only became elligible to race it a couple of weeks before as I moved up to become a 3rd Cat rider. I had a pleasing race, although finished well down after a bad time trial, and a mechanical which lost me a lot of time on the first road race.

What knocked me back though, was a crash a couple of days later, when I got taken out in the sprint of another road race, when I was perhaps on course for my best finish. Since then I’ve not trained enough, and I’ve slowly been losing fitness, which has resulted in another crash as I was straining too hard to not get dropped when racing well above my level.

As a data geek, aswell as now a fitness geek, I keep records of every workout I do, for this I use SportTracks. A great piece of software, with many plugins available created by the large developer community around it. Training Load provides a visualisation of fitness and fatique.

The output of the training load plugin is something like this:
My training load showing a gradual rise with setbacks until June 2008 and then tailing off

The red line is my “fatigue”, this is basically the amount of exercise done recently, the blue line is my “fitness”, this is the amount of exercise done over a longer period. (I use 11 days and 45 days for the two values) Each workout or race is given a score based on how stressful it is, this is based on time spent in various heart rate zones. It takes some care to set up your zones to be meaningful, fortunately Maryka on the Sport Tracks forum has posted a how to and although I also tweaked them some more, they end up extremely close to the values WKO+ gives me using Power. Heart Rate is a surprisingly good proxy, well within the general inaccuracies of the method.

You can see my fitness slowly rising from a low start (it wasn’t quite that bad before really, I simply didn’t collect the data) I dropped back a lot in July 2008, as me and Maryka both took a break after her Ironman. December 2008 I had another big dip as I was waylaid with flu, and simply Christmas and the cold weather getting in the way. A big rise at the end of January after a week in Lanzarote hard training. And you can see my poor performance with training since July.

In 2008 I managed to keep increasing fitness through the autumn because of the Nice-Cannes marathon goal in November, and whilst the goalless, just training to train drove my fitness well up until June. I think I had better get a goal again now, otherwise it will just drift down, and as it does that, my happiness will drift down with it, and my weight drift up.

So I’m looking for a goal, something to get me through the winter fit, any ideas?