How you measure your performance matters
This past weekend I was curious about something - how does my current Ironman Wisconsin training compare to my Ironman Wisconsin training from two years ago? Thankfully, with the help of Training Peaks data, specifically the dual calendar function, this comparison was made possible. However, there is one key component from my data now that isn’t as robust as it was back then: subjective data. How we measure our performance matters, in all things. It is easy to get trapped by the numbers - worrying about splits and watts and training volume. Those things certainly provide part of the content, but the subjective data provides the context. How we manage and deal with our perception of our daily effort is just as important as the results of our workouts. One of the hardest parts about coaching in the modern age is the shift from written training logs to digital training logs. The workouts are “recorded” automatically, but when we take the time to consider all the other factors that surround the workout as well as our levels of motivation, confidence, and overall feeling good/bad during the workout, it actually registers in our brains. For this reason, group training can be helpful because we often discus these things at length during and after the workout with our training partners. Unfortunately, a lot of training is a solo mission and telling your significant other or your coworkers about your average pace or an interval split during your morning training session can feel like braggadocio. Training Peaks has made recent strides with the writing of workout comments and inputting RPE (rate of perceived exertion) by using smiley faces along with a scale of 1-10 to help increase the rate of logging training. Having a coach to go back and forth with these comments can also be helpful. Thankfully, for my own sake, the comments I made in years past (although not as in-depth as I recommend and write now) are still beneficial in deciphering the data leading up to IM Wisconsin ’17, making for easier comparison and peace of mind as I train for IM Wisconsin ’19.
As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured, gets managed” and the saying applies not only to business, but to triathlon training and life. For those of you who aren’t journaling - start today. To take a step back from just training, we are also easily consumed by the numbers when it comes to: salary, working hours, house price, cars, clothes, etc. But when we journal, we realize that these things might not always make us feel any better, or sometimes they make us feel worse! Journaling might work the other way as well, forcing us to check in with how much (time, money, attention) we are actually spending on certain things. Just like training, the goal is awareness without obsession.
As you head into your week, I challenge you to log your training with comments every day (especially during key workouts) as well as write a short journal of the days occurrences and how you felt about them. What happens in our daily lives affects our training and vice versa, the two are highly intertwined, so it will be fascinating to see what you notice!
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