Monday, January 3, 2011

Tracking Training

Tracking Training - Miles versus Hours
Although the number of miles ridden (per week) is the most common approach to measuring training, there are those who believe that mileage doesn't count as much as time. For example, compare riding alone at 15 miles per hour versus in a group at 20. Were both equal workouts with an hour of saddle time? Or was the 20 miles a better workout? There is no answer to this question, so you get to pick your own preference.

Using a training log
Keeping track of your training - and using the information to improve - is an improtant part of any training program. How do you use the information?? I'll reprint the comments of Fred Matheny (from - an excellent on line resource). I'll emphasize what resonates with me in bold.

From RBR's 12/21/06 Newsletter: Motivation & Inspiration: Best of Coach Fred. " How Do You Analyze a Training Diary?"

* Question: You've mentioned that you've kept a training log for almost 33 years. I'm curious -- what are your training totals for 2006, and how do you analyze your entries to help you plan for next year? -- Mark N.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Good question, Mark. Not many riders keep detailed training logs, which is a shame, and even fewer know what to do with a year's worth of information. Analyzing a training log is crucial to learning from your mistakes, understanding your successes and getting better each year. I'd like to see you and all RBR roadies start a cycling diary for 2007.

This task is easier now that computer-based diaries can be used instead of paper-and-pencil logs. (For an example, see With electronic diaries you can pull out average miles, average heart rate, number of hours at or above lactate threshold and much other potentially useful data.

But having said that, I admit to still using an old-school paper diary. I've gotten comfortable with this type during three decades, although I still find that turning all the data into actual improvement is more art than science.

You asked about my numbers. With two weeks to go in 2006 I've done 527 hours on the bike, 227 hours of other aerobic exercise (mainly hiking and snowshoeing) and about 50 hours of weight training. That adds up to around 800 hours of exercise. My totals have been pretty consistent in the last 17 years, averaging 650-800 hours annually.

But lump-sum hours aren't as meaningful as the hours spent near or above lactate threshold. In other words, quality is more important than quantity. And in this area my ability to analyze my training falls short. It's difficult to pull that information from a handwritten log. I rarely wear a heart monitor, and although I do have a power meter on a bike, I'm not always riding that one when I go hard. So quite a few power profiles of hard rides aren't recorded.

Periodically through the year, I read back over my diary to make a subjective analysis. I check the number of interval sessions I've done and their spacing. I look for rides that were hard even though no formal intervals were scheduled. Examples are spirited group rides, races and courses with lots of climbing.

I also check my body weight, looking for fluctuations that could indicate dehydration or overtraining.

But more important to me than intensity or hours is a subjective rating of my well-being. I find my mental state to be the best indicator that I'm on the right track or doing too much. Do I feel vigorous or flat? Am I eager to ride or am I going through the motions? Do rides feel so good that I extend them longer than I'd planned, or do I plod through a lackluster hour and head home?

Hard training doesn't, by itself, lead to improvement. Rest and recovery are the essential catalysts. If I don't rest enough, everything goes downhill. So for me, charting my mood against the objective numbers produced by my training is the most useful aspect of diary analysis."..... more

1 comment:

Scott Demel said...

Have you seen this? I find more with every read through it.

links below, all to the same basic posting, though I never found the "original"