>> Thursday, February 04, 2010
Note: Choosing an online workout log is a VERY personal choice. If I have bad things to say regarding your website of choice, it’s nothing personal against you. This whole process of finding an online log is really specific to one’s personality, and what works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. But here’s my 2 cents:
Back in August of last year, I put up a post asking for recommendations on different sites for tracking mileage. I had a "physical" day-planner that I had been using as a log, but wanted to try something new. I noted that I had a Wellsphere account, but didn’t like that for tracking miles. If I had to give Wellsphere a grade, it’d be this:
Wellsphere: Grade of F+. This may have changed since I deleted my account, but I had to round every workout to the nearest mile! REALLY?!? This site was horrible, and the layout made it really difficult to get around. Sucktastic.
Oh, and I DID consider just tracking everything in a spreadsheet file on my own computer. Some bloggers sent me some VERY COOL spreadsheets files all set up by day, month, and year. Everything was totaled up automatically, pie charts would appear at the bottom, etc, etc. They were pretty sweet. But I decided I wanted to work online. Plus, I was afraid that the file could suddenly go corrupt and I’d lose all my training info. (I guess I have more faith in unknown online companies to not lose my data...*gulp*)
Personal Spreadsheet: Grade of ??. You could make this as simple or as complex as you’d like, so it’s tough to give this a letter grade.
So in that post back in August, people were recommending some great sites. I listened to what people were saying, and in September of last year, I started 4 new accounts with Beginner Triathlete, Buckeye Outdoors, Daily Mile, and Training Peaks. I started tracking my workouts, mileage, and races with those sites. I QUICKLY found ones to work better for me than others.
Here’s my review of all 4 of those from worst to best (in my opinion):
Daily Mile: Cute design. It’s like Twitter (or a Facebook Group) where you can add workouts. That’s great, but I don’t need ANOTHER place to chat with “friends.” Great for runners only or people tracking their “workouts” (but not for people tracking their “training” [unless you’re a runner]). Not great for mulitsport athletes. Take a look at this screenshot:
1. “5 months ago”? How about an actual date?
2. See the triathlon in the middle of that image? It’s labeled as a “fitness workout” (with no way to store my splits). That’s a little insulting. (But at least it got a bit smiley face! Sheesh.) You can’t add a triathlon, duathlon, or brick workout.
It’s “cutesy,” but a little unprofessional. When you enter a workout, you can give it varying degrees of a smiley face:
Daily Mile: Grade of D. (This is a little awkward because “Team Daily Mile” retweeted my tweet that linked to the “foam roller” post yesterday. Sorry.) Like I said, it’s fine for more casual athletes, or those that are runners only.
Training Peaks: Very professional. Many coaches like this because you can leave workouts in OTHER people’s log telling them what to do each day. Nice. You can track your equipment usage. It’s easy to get around, and easy to enter workouts (it’s all pretty intuitive). It totals your weekly mileage. Here’s a screenshot:
(that's the actual picture - don't sit here and wait for something to initialize)
Buckeye Outdoors: The calendar was JUST was I was looking for, and it was super easy to add a workout. You can quickly see what you’ve done, and the little multi-colored symbols helps make it clear right away. Here’s a screenshot:
Buckeye Outdoors: Grade of B+. No major complaints. Tracked everything I wanted it to quite well (even intervals). It’s possible to print out “reports,” but the printout is a little awkward and not in that same calendar format.
Beginner Triathlete: I didn’t like the name; I don’t see myself as a “beginner” anymore. But I liked about everything else on their site. Here’s a screenshot from last month:
B: My “Equipment” list, showing that my main running shoes have exactly 251.55 miles on them (and 52.43 miles on my racing flats).
C: “Personal Bests” that link to my race where I set that PR.
You can add workouts much like you can at Training Peaks. And the calendar is nice and easy to use like at Buckeye Outdoors. So, for me, it’s the best of those 2 sites. But the forums are what sold me on Beginner Triathlete. The forums are SOO extensive. There is a LOT of good info in there, and it easy to add your own question. (There are forums for “triathlon talk,” “classifieds,” “strength training,” “IM specific,” state-specific forums, etc, etc, etc, and even a “cup of joe” forum for anything non-triathlon related.) Anyone can respond to any issue in any forum, so you have to take all advice with a grain of salt. But sometimes you’ll find the person responding is a 9:20 IM athlete (really, there are a few that I’ve “met” on BT, and that have offered me advice, and one of them is ALWAYS on BT).
I contacted the “owner” of BT and told him that I would be talking about what I liked about BT. I asked him what’s in the works at BT. He actually shared a special username and password with me so I could login as a beta tester and check out what’s on the way! Cool!! They’re planning to add more functions to each person’s “blog.” One of the biggest ones is a “Goals” page where you can add weight loss goals, speed goals, fitness goals, etc, and then track your way towards that. Thanks for letting me check that out, Mike!
Beginner Triathlete: Grade of A. It’s not 100% perfect, but I do really like it. And it’s possible to print out a weekly calendar with all your workout notes if you want a hard copy (similar to what Buckeye Outdoors can do, but easier to read). One downside to BT is that some of the settings take a bit to find when you first set up an account - it’s a little “clunky” and takes a moment to find what you’re looking for in the settings the first time or 2. (But entering workouts is a cinch.)
I’ve been using BT since I first checked it out in September of last year. I LOVE throwing my workouts up there ASAP after a workout - it makes me feel very accountable and it makes me want to work hard. That sounds stupid, but it’s true. It’s like some form of subconscious motivation.
Check out the sites I wrote about here, and maybe I’ll see you on BT!
Daily Mile: D. No thanks. Not for triathletes IMO.
Training Peaks: B-. Not bad. Good for working with a coach.
Buckeye Outdoors: B+. Nice calendar. Easy to use.
Beginner Triathlete: A. My site of choice.
What’s your preferred way to track your mileage? Do you use one of these methods? (And like I said at the top, I don’t mean any personal disrespect if you use one of the methods that I don’t care for as much. I hope we can still be friends.) And don't forget to check back at 2 am and 2 pm every day this week for more “Does It Work” posts. Click on the “Does It Work” tag to see all posts in this mini-series.