5 Tools for Tracking Your Workouts

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There are few people who run simply to run.  Most runners are seeking to improve their performance and the only way to do that is to track your workouts.  Countless tools are available to help you track your performances, but today I am going to highlight 5 that I have used:

1. The Clipboard. This is the low tech option available to everyone.  All you need is a pen, paper and a hard surface to right down your workout.  Currently I use this work my strength training.  I am going through P90X right now and they have kindly made the workout sheets available online. The benefit here is that you can quickly  enter your data. The workout sheets also let me quickly compare this week's performance with last weeks performance, however because it is on paper I manual have to calculate my improvements over time. I take this into the digital age there is also an Excel spreadsheet available to help you track all of P90X data.

2. Nike+. Nike+ connects your running shoe with your iPod, giving you feedback as you run (mainly your distance). Certain Nike shoes have a space in the heel where you place a small sensor (which cost an extra $20) that will track your footsteps. Along with the sensor there is a piece that plugs into the bottom of your iPod nano (yes, it must be a nano, it doesn't work on the larger iPods). There are plenty of companies out that have made gadgets that allow you to attach the sensor to shoes other than your Nikes, freeing you to wear whatever shoes you want.  The only down side I have found with Nike+ is that the distance is not always accurate.  For more info on the Nike+ system check out their website.

3. Running Ahead. This is a fairly simple workout tracker. While the name implies that it only applies to running there are some built in features for cyclists, popular gym workouts like Body Pump and Body Sculpt, and yoga.  It is easy to use and syncs with many Garmin devices, making even easier to upload your runs.  I don't use this program anymore, I think any other one is better, however, for the beginner, this is a great place to start.

4. DailyMile. DailyMile is like Facebook for runners.  It allows you to upload your workout using Garmin or Nike+ devices and connect with other runners.  It tracks your weekly and total stats and provides you with fun information, such as how many donuts you have burned off or the number of TVs you have powered.  There are also some great widgets that you can attach to your website (I have two on mine). While it may not be the greatest tool in measuring your workouts, it does provide a great community and allows you to see what others are doing with their training.

5. TrainingPeaks. Training Peaks has replaced Running Ahead as my primary workout tracker. First, it tracks everything.  Not only will it track your workouts, it also tracks meals. It has an extensive library of foods so that you can get accurate counts on everything that you are eating. For the workouts, Training Peaks syncs with the vast majority of workout watches including Garmin, Polar, Suunto and Timex. It doesn't hurt that Runner's World uses it as it's tracking system. In some ways there is almost too much available.  If you new to running you may only want to use the workout function, however, as you try to improve your performance the other features become highly valuable. The great part is, you only have to use what you want. Also, the internet version is FREE!

So what have you used to track your workouts?

6 comments:

Scott Ayres said...

Great list.. Any iPhone apps you would recommend to track workouts?

JD said...

MapMyRun has a great iPhone app. My mother-in-law uses it quite a bit. I use to use the MapMyRun.com before I got my Garmin watch which tracks my distance and pace as I am running. I think thier app for iPhone allows you to do the same.

lara said...

I need to start running.

JD said...

I only started back to running a year ago. Over the last year I have lost 20 lbs. My mother-in-law is the one who is amazing though. Over the last few months she has lost 100 lbs and ran 13 miles for the first time two weeks ago. She plans to run the st. Jude Half Marathon with us in December as her first official half. All of us have to start somewhere.

Evhen said...

RunKeeper (http://runkeeper.com) is a fantastic iPhone app. I use it all the time for my runs. I've tried iMapMyRun as well and prefer RunKeeper.

JD said...

Thanks Evhen for your input. I am out the loop a little bit on this one since I don't have an iPhone. Should I get one (hint to family) I'll keep RunKeeper in mind.

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