Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pysching out the bullys

Mighty Mo plays flag football and practices twice a week at the game field. Depending on the night at least one other team will be there as well. Usually there is a team there that is coached by the prototypical guy you would never want to coach your child. Tall, fat, loud, hard on the players who are only seven and eight years old.  Accent puts him from New York or New Jersey. Not a knock, just an observation. 

This coach he is always yelling in practice about what is done wrong in the plays. Rarely does he praise what is done right. He is the kind of coach always using the word, "gentlemen" as if it softens the decibels or the criticism. At the end of the season that team is middle of the pack. So the hard riding has not exactly played out for them. 

Conversely, Mighty Mo's team is one of two undefeated teams in the same 7/8 age group.  They have a shot this weekend for winning the whole 7/8 division in football. His team has played together for three seasons with the same coaches, some of us have played together for four or five seasons on other teams. In fact in the winter off-season, the team wanted to hang out together still and joined a basketball league just to keep the comradery going. 

So far this has nothing to do with my post. 

Last night I needed to get in a run and decided I would do it while Mighty Mo was having practice by running around all the fields. I'd done this before. I ran for the whole practice, an hour, getting in a little over six miles. I had to run by this coach and his team on each lap of which 3 laps equaled a mile. So I went past, 18 or 19 times. At some point I got the impression that the coach was waiting for me to stop, as if my stopping, even because I went my planned distance or time, vindicated to him that I was a quitter. Each time I came by he got louder, as if trying to crowd my space with his voice. Some parents started looking at me for long periods of time as I ran down and past them and I got the impression that at some point during a break something might have been said about me. 

At some point, forty or so minutes into my run, I had flipped my switch from not really loving my run to loving it, accepting it, and knowing I could do this for hours and I didn't want to stop. (For me the first ten minutes of any run is a gamble if I keep going).  Mighty Mo's team finished practice first and it worked out perfectly for me distance wise and location on the field. I had to look towards the verbose coach a hundred yards away and he was certainly eyeballing me as if to confirm that he had silently bet I couldn't run the whole time and was disappointed that I did. I tossed him a head nod but he turned and walked away from me.  

I love to prove people wrong like that. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

How do you track your workouts?

My preferred online training log, Buckeye Outdoors, suffered a catastrophic failure this month due to storms and flooding and I lost almost two years of training data. Some of this has been backed up by monthly screen scraps but honestly the last six months I have been slacking and its all gone. I have no idea how many miles or hours I have invested in my fitness for 2011. I am a little bummed but it is not something I dwell on much except that I miss the affirmation it provided me and the ease of processing. 

Now I am looking for a different system, maybe change things up. Here is a list of possible ideas.
Spiral notebook-there is always something affirming about putting pencil or pen to paper. The vast majority of my over two decades of exercise recaps are in some form of paper. From time to time, I still transcribe my bike computer or watch data to a notepad for future uploading online, so it is a medium I still use. To the right is just a few years of training logs. I have a full box of them elsewhere. The pro is I prefer the stubby pencil and paper medium. The con is that I rarely review my data or forward totals. 
Journal or diary-Whether it be 3x5 note cards, legal pad or DayRunner, which I called 'My brain', I write almost everything done, with as many head injuries as I've had you would too.  This is hand in hand with spiral logs. The pro is that with a page a day,  I can list all my daily activities including workouts and I am very comfortable with it. The con is that something I really like, DayRunners are generally heavy and large at dimensions of 5"x8"x2".  And again, I have to manually figure ongoing totals. 
Weekly or monthly calendar- I would probably go with a one piece calendar for the whole year. I can mark in totals along the side as the weeks progress. The pro is that I can see trends much better which is important to me including days off, upcoming events. Its a great perspective. The con is that as someone who is used to writing lots of information I will barely enough room in the daily block to list Type, Time and Distance. And again, manual totals. 
Phone application-I have always tried to convert from notebooks to handheld tracking and it has never worked out. I've scanned iPhone apps for two years looking for something I would use for workouts and business and no apps have appealed to me. That doesn't mean I know everything and I'm interested in digging deeper here. The pro is that I always have my iPhone with me and input is super easy. The con is that based on my last two online training websites, I am trusting less and less the ability to have recall with data. 
Computer spreadsheet-I would love to be able to use a decent excel spreadsheet but I don't have the creativity or ability to create my own. The pro is that is can be saved and printed out for back up. The con is that it based on previous attempts I can add all kinds of data but get lost in the trees so to speak because it just looks like one long page of stuff. 
Training website- Before Buckeye, I used Training Peaks and Workout Log. All were excellent sites dedicated to tracking fitness. All have flaws in either cost (as in I don't want monthly fees) or they loose all their data. Not opposed to a dedicated site and I might go back to one as they are very easy to use and review, the easiest of all options but loosing all that info because I stopped my membership or the site crashes are starting to be deal breakers. 
Watch upload site online or on your computer-interestingly enough I just switched to a Garmin training watch. Garmin and other fitness watches like Polar have software that allows you to upload your watch data to a online site or a software program you load onto your computer. Using Garmin Connect has been an amazingly good experience for me and tracks more data is a visually pleasant way that I've ever had before. Regardless of any future method of tracking, I must or will continue to upload data from my Garmin to this site. The con is that, what if I stop using Garmin?

Lots of options here. I suppose for next few days I will simply upload to Garmin Connect and use some sort of stubby pencil and paper routine. Depending on how feedback is on what you think, I could change that. 

So, what do you use?