If it weren’t for the data analysis of exercise, I would have no interest in it at all, as I am an engineer (computer) by trade. This data is to be used to improve one’s self, it is called self quantification, a process of trial and error to a point of fine tuning. The first time I began logging was when I began weightlifting for size and strength, where I would need to track my macro nutrient intake (carbs/fat/protein), and my workout progress based off of preset templates. Eventually I found what worked, and of course you do peak at some point, so you go back to your log and adjust for a new training or diet cycle. Once you are in the routine, you can easily eye out the result – how many calories a handful of chicken has, how much weight I can deadlift tomorrow. It will never be perfect, that piece of chicken might have been soaked in oil you cannot see, or suddenly you are tired to lift the expected weight tomorrow – but it is generally consistent most of the time.
I moved to the endurance sport world, and still log – it really helps with all the data collection devices such as GPS watch, heart rate monitors, etc. Unfortunately there is a faction of people who insist not to log. Perhaps they want to avoid the mundane task or know that it can predict an outcome and fear that – but regardless if you do not conscientiously log, your body does. There are athletes that say if your effort was more than 80% or so, its junk miles and it doesn’t count, but it does.
Logging is a mental exercise, yes we must train our brains too, unless you want early Alzheimers. You can watch the famous movie The Notebook to see how terrible it is. When you do a run, it is best to be mapping the route and time in your head in case your watch fails. So you can easily go home, and use a tool like gmap-pedometer.com or mapmyrun.com to get some accurate measurements. The longer the distance, the more you need to pace yourself appropriately and understand when to hydrate and eat, it will all come down to math; You need to do on the fly. Some people have the notion that weightlifting and endurance sport are nothing but dumb muscle. You would be surprised that many people competing at the top level have engineering masters degrees, Ph.Ds, etc. Both power lifter Jeff Volek, who has contributed to much in exercise science, and long distance runner Meb Keflezighi, who earned a degree mid-training, besides pushing their “dumb muscle”, they are sharpening the one smart “muscle” at the top of the head, the brain.
I wrote this article, when I saw my wife post the previous one – it seems like a newbie article, because she already has encountered and used that knowledge in the past. She took a hiatus from training, and now is stepping back into it, but regrettably did not log. So now, she must start at level 0 again and work her way back up, this means reliving all the frustrations to get there. This is the case in which life comes to waste relearning something – as you could be using this time learning something new or expanding what you know. Perhaps this is why many people burn out from sport. I am a futurist, who believes in the singularity. The human race should be striving to retain knowledge and add to it. The ultimate tragedy is the absence of existence.
A log, is your ultimate coach. On a running holiday party discussion, the talk of Ryan Hall came up. How he has performed greatly in the past without a personal coach, but recently has been suffering with injuries in attempt to defeat the ever so strong camp of Kenyans defeating Americans in the marathon. We must remember that in the original movie Spirit of the Marathon, Deana Kastor too, was suffering through injury yet won the Chicago Marathon. When you are at that elite level, you ride a fine line where you begin to emaciate that bone density decreases and what not. As amatures we must be careful to not be armchair quarterbacks judging these elites on what to do, rather learn from what they did.
To me, “A” coach is a scapegoat. If their training failed to produce said result, you can go and say it was they who failed, and not you. Where am I going with this? I think the data logging he does(?), should be analyzed by an array of coaches, rather than one. Based off of feel he who is in charge of deciding which advice to take. this should be via a coaching team of runners, nutritionists, therapists (ART performed at Function Smart Fitness), etc. You do not need to be an elite athlete for this to happen. Sharing your log can help you gather more options, and it can help others who may be interested in seeing what is a potential track to reach your achievements that they would like to mimic. Now I’m not saying all coaching is bad, as there are cases when someone must be there to visually analyze and correct your run stride, swim stroke, or Olympic clean & jerk, whatever your sport may be. With our sharing of information, we can all improve, and hopefully go beyond where humanity is right now, and break records, together!
This is my current log: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/training/index-weekly.asp?memberid=184946