In today's world, with the numerous types of wearable exercise trackers, you may wonder why bother with doing so?
The fact is that tracking exercise data can provide you with motivation, knowledge and history. I personally track my fitness data on my Garmin VivoFit Active HR. My watch gives me lots of helpful data to analyze and compare, including calories burned, steps, intensity level, cadence, resting heart rate, as well as speed, pace and elevation. I use this data to compare how I am progressing during workouts and track how I’ve done in similar workouts, or races, in the past.
One example workout I've done throughout the summer is called “1 mile repeats”. This workout is where you run 1 mile on a track or around a neighborhood, rest (approximately 90 seconds) then run another mile trying to hit the same or about the same amount of time. Once the workout is complete, the data can be downloaded and analyzed on the device of your choice. Then you can compare your stats with future “1 mile repeat” workouts - preferably hopefully done on the same course for better tracking.
Below are my stats from 1 mile repeats I did recently, you can see how I’ve improved since doing this workout two months before:
TIME: 6.27 6.16 6.17 6.15 6.15
TIME: 6.28 6.22 6.28 6.18 6.21
When I see improvement, it does 3 things:
- Verifies my training is working and builds my confidence levels
- Provides extra motivation to continue doing what I am doing because results are extremely motivational
- Gives me important information about my upcoming races. For example, I know that I can push myself a little harder on my next race because I know that I can sustain a faster pace during a similar workout.
As a competitive athlete, I expect to improve my fitness levels as the season progresses. The numbers tell the truth and allow me to build my confidence and make any adjustments as I deem necessary. I have a very good idea that I am on track to run my upcoming races faster than I did last time because of what the stats tell me. If I had no statistics to compare, I would be running blind and unable to predict not only my expected finish time; but I would also have trouble determining what pace I should strive to maintain on race day.
Another tracking tip I recommend, is to stick with many of the same races each season. This will allow you to test yourself and see where you are compared to where you were. One thing you cannot plan for are course changes. It happens, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it! It does however create a tracking challenge, because one flat 5K course is not the same as a 5K on a hilly course.
On September 9, I competed in the Reston Triathlon. In the 9 times I’ve competed in this race, the course has changed 5 or 6 times. The distances have changed (sometimes longer), the routes have changed and twice it went from swim-bike-run to run-bike-run due to weather.
I still love the event, but it does make it difficult to compare one year to the next. Nevertheless, I continue to track my stats no matter what. My stats show me the pace I was able to keep for each event. Even though some of the distances or routes change, the pace is something I can compare from one year to the next.
I hope that you’ll read this and consider tracking your stats or pay closer attention to what your stats are telling you. Sometimes, working or competing against others can be demoralizing, even detrimental to your goal. For me, no matter who shows up on race day, I know I’ll be there and if I can beat myself, I know I am getting better. If I am not able to beat my previous results, I can look back at my training and see what I can improve on. When you compare your own stats and performance it can be indicative of your training, drive expectations and increase motivation. Measure yourself against yourself and be your own competition!
Tom Kalka is the President and CEO of Sergeant’s Fitness Concepts. In addition, to being a successful business owner and fitness instructor, he is a loving husband, father of 3 and dog owner. When he isn’t helping others achieve their fitness goals or training for his next race, he enjoys spending time with his family, volunteering at local community events and supporting military veteran organizations.
Keep up with Tom, see his latest stats and athletic achievements on www.Athlinks.com.