My Planning Tools

images (43)I have discussed my training and overall plan development in past posts, but rarely have I explained what tools I use to track my progress an for setting monthly and weekly goals.  Part of the reason I am writing this post stems from quite a few new GPS enabled fitness gifts received over the holidays.  Additionally I would like to share the processes and tools I employ currently for reaching my overall fitness goals.

One thing  to note is that I deviate from preset time periods like a year, so my training year currently, according to my plan and schedule, extends from October 2012 to the end of October 2013.  When possible I divide all periods into shorter two to four week periods, each with a distinct and unique set of goals based on predetermined training goals and reflective input generated from previous training phases.  The break up of my training phases stems from the Joe Friel Triathlon Training Bible.  Please note that I am not a licensed trainer, and I do not have any specialized degrees pertaining to sports or athletics.  This system and the culmination of tools developed from my identified need and its what I currently use.

I employ numerous tools to track workouts, weekly progress and monthly progress.  Each tool has a function and unfortunately I have not found a single tool that functions completely on its own.    The following are the components I use currently.

Spreadsheets 

As I mentioned in the plan, the first step I did was to use Freil’s season planning spreadsheet to create a season and my training plan.  I currently keep this in an workbook project as the first spreadsheet page, but one of the tools I use, Training Peaks provides this functionality but costs extra.  This spread sheet is my plan for the entire year and I broke it down starting in October 2012 extending to the end of next October 2013.  I use this as my base outline for all training and to  set up my monthly and weekly goals per phase.

Click for larger view

Click for larger view

The next pages are my summary progress pages divided up by phases identified in the planning spreadsheet. I use these pages as a way of tracking each phases duration (volume) and distances.  This allows me to compare each week to see areas of progress and needing additional work.  Accompanying the summation of the phase I list all my runs and biking sessions with associated vital information.  I generate one page per generated phase.  External to Strava and Training Peaks, this is the lowest level I keep track of data.

The totals column of this sheet, for duration and distance goes into a 2012/2013 training summary page.  This matches the planning worksheet and keeps tabs on each phases total numbers in a comparative format.  Additionally the bike and run data entered into the summary pages are transferred into similar training year sheets.

Click for larger view

Phase Summary Sheet: Click for larger view

The spreadsheets provide a means to make comparative analysis as I progress through each phase, as well it provides a method of weekly comparisons.  These spreadsheets provide the foundation for all comparative analysis I perform when setting any and all goals. I can determine where I am improving and what needs more work.  This functionality Is what both Training Peaks and Strava both currently lack, in either free or paid versions.  Those two applications are still  useful and provide functionality needed to provide the data for the spreadsheets, as well as some other additional functions.

Season Training Summary

Season Training Summary

Training Peaks

Main interface.

Main interface.

Part of the reason I use training peaks stems from their relationship with Timex and the software support for the Global Trainer watch.  Training Peaks provides the primary interface for workout data directly taken from the watch.  There is allot of potential power to this application, but most of the extended functionality comes at a heft cost.  Planning is one of those features that is not allowed.  Basically, Training Peaks provides a way to view summerizaitons of each weeks activity duration and distance totals. Additionally the software provides a view of laps and routes generated from the uploaded data file.  There are some interesting numbers included, such as Tss which is a true measure of difficulty based on various factors.

Training Peaks generates weekly duration and distance.

Training Peaks generates weekly duration and distance.

Weekly distance and duration tracking as well as great basic analysis tools makes this one of the defacto tools for me. At the lowest level I get great simple analysis functions and I can track my runs, heart rate and even equipment usage.  There is allot to like with this software, but additionally there is allot to be desired.  One of the biggest drawback to this tool lies in a heavy fee to unlock additional features, some  included for free in Strava, as well as an inability to share and view other users workout data.  Additionally, there is no way to compare performance numbers and the free version offers few extra useful graphs. This biggest dissapointment lies in the additional cost to normalize elevation data, something that Strava includes with their basic service.

Strava

I mostly use Strava for its normalization of elevation data and for the social component. In Strava I can share workouts with my brother or anybody I want and we can give comments, hints and tips based on the data.  When I upload my workout data from my watch I convert it into a Strava friendly format and upload it at the same time. I often base most of my cycling numbers from Strava instead of Training Peaks as it provides an easier comparison and the elevation data is normalized.

Strava’s short comings mainly lie in their lack of planning capabilities   Each workout is added into monthly totals, but weekly totals are not provided.  The overall level of detail to the workouts is not as in depth as the information I am able to pull out of training peaks.   I currently use Strava as I said for the social aspect and because I prefer its data when it comes to cycling as it normalizes the elevation data for free. One cool thing with Strava is that they include challenges that users can sign up for as well as a low monthly cost should you decided to upgrade.

Conclusion

If you look at my solution from a smaller to larger perspective, the data would move from Training Peaks and Strava for daily and weekly numbers to the spreadsheets for phase/month and yearly comparative numbers.  Currently this solution works pretty well, providing the ability to compare various time periods and phases of training.  I have found this system to be invaluable as it allows all my training plans to be based on previous phase’s numbers and performance.  I would love it if one application had most of the functionality,but I doubt that will ever be the case.  I know currently both Strava and Training Peaks are working to progress their software offerings. In some ways it is convoluted, but it gives me what I need to stay focused and heading towards my end goal.  What do you use to plan and track your training?  Til next time.

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11 comments

  1. I am majorly impressed, not just just your dedication to your training sessions but also your dedication to your planning of said training sessions!

    I don’t plan and track my training well. I mainly go by how I feel, with a little bit of extra effort added to push myself. I did try scheduling and planning my sessions for a while but found it took a lot of the fun out of it, especially when he improvements were slow to be seen. And a big part of me is in it for the fun 🙂

    1. With three sports to train for and no base athletic fitness, I had to find a way to quantify my training. Using this system, I have been able to stick to a program and it gives me the feeling of control. I am still having fun, but allot of it is in the quantification and seeing how my planning pays off at the end of the season. Thanks

      1. You’re clearly seeing the benefits – it really is impressive! And if it’s fun on top of that then it’s a win all round 🙂

      2. Thank you and thank you very much for sharing.

  2. Impressive data. I keep an excel sheet as a sort of workout log but it’s more qualitative than quantitative. I use Mapmyrun to keep track of my runs, but I primarily use Daily Mile to log all my workouts and keep track of my weekly miles. If I was swimming and biking too I would probably have to come up with something more sophisticated like you have to keep track of progress. Very cool share!

    1. I have looked at both, but i do not use my phone when running. I believe using something and having something in place that helps you get where you want to be, regardless high tech or low tech, is awesome. Thank you for sharing. Good to hear other products and things people use.

  3. Well…this is quite impressive..are you also an accountant? You have to love numbers to track like this…wow! But what a way to see dips and such. You’re doing a great job…great advice here.

    1. It was not easy coming up with this method of tracking.I tried allot of things before settling on using things this way. Now I am just a creature of habit and will ride that habit to my first triathlon. Thanks.

  4. Hi, I use Garmin Connect to track my runs. I also use a spreadsheet but nothing as detailed as what you have. I could probably benefit from paying more attention to details.

  5. […] My Planning Tools (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com) […]

  6. hello,
    where can I find the Freil’s season planning spreadsheet xls, the link isn’t valid for now?
    regards
    fred

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