Have you ever stopped to consider why you use technology in your athletic life? Here’s my answer.
1. Learn Faster
I came to sport late in life, starting triathlon when I was 30 years old. Over the first six years of my career, I took my Ironman time from 11 hours to 8:29 and won Ultraman Hawaii. Technology, most specifically my heart rate monitor and power meter, played a fundamental role in helping me beat my competition, quickly.
2. Create Visibility
For Errors Did you see the movie Days of Thunder? In the movie, Robert Duvall checks the max revs on the tachometer after Tom Cruise blows his engine out. I use post-session analysis of power and heart rate to do the same thing for my own training.
3. Quantify Work
Triathlons are 1-17 hour time-trials where there is a HUGE performance benefit from energy-pacing towards your run. Trouble is… how do we know what we have to work with? Enter your power meter. For “fast” Gordo, an Olympic Distance race requires ~2,000kj of total work (swim/bike/run). An Ironman is going to require ~7,500kj. There is a big difference between rides of these two energy amounts at any work rate. When long-course triathletes fall apart using top-down pacing strategies, don’t just blame nutrition. Review their average weekly kilojoules as well as quantifying the output from their longest training days. Work before work rate, is a key aspect of my approach to long-course triathlon.
4. Learn From Success
As a coach, it is easy to get into the habit of looking for errors and mistakes. Spikes are easy to see on TrainingPeaks. Tools such as WKO+ let us calculate decoupling with ease. Be sure to spend time reviewing your successes – learn from what works.
5. Learn Feel
When I started exercising, I expected training to be quite painful and I received what I expected: Pain! By using my heart rate monitor, I figured out a safe level of effort that would enable me to complete my sessions. As my knowledge increased, I was able to interpret the science to what I actually saw in my own performance. The training zones that you read about have a physiological basis. Understanding how science feels does not come naturally for us. Most specifically, most athletes will notice a loss of rational capacity when their heart rate crosses about 155 bpm. Technology can help you see when you might be losing your mind (we all do).
6. Superior Communication
The auto-notify function on TrainingPeaks is a great tool for initiating coach:athlete communication with remote relationships. However, most important is a reliable log of what you actually did. It is amazing how we ALL tend to remember our best sessions as our standard workouts! Being able to see what we actually did last year, or the year before, can go a long way to settling the mind down.
Quantify, Assess and Apply!