Does It Work: Beginner Triathlete, Buckeye Outdoors, Daily Mile, and Training Peaks

>> 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:



2 main problems with this:
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:



Trying to enter a triathlon or a duathlon nearly started the website on fire. Really. It’s like I was asking them to rearrange the stars. It’s FINE for tracking weight lifting routines, runs, etc., but it’s not for multisport athletes.

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:



Some things I DON’T like about Training Peaks: The calendar (seen above) is a little “clunky” - it’s hard to glace at it and see what you’ve done recently. It’s also “tall,” so you can only see 2 weeks at a time (I like to see the whole month). It also takes a bit to load the calendar; I spent 5-9 seconds looking at this when I first logged in:


(that's the actual picture - don't sit here and wait for something to initialize)

Training Peaks: Grade of B-. It’s good for tracking workouts, mileage, and races (including multisport races), but the format didn’t quite fit for me. I wasn’t happy with the way the info is shown on the calendar. That’s just a personal preference, I know.

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:



The calendar is “clean” and minimal. If you want to see more on a workout, you can scroll over it. Here I am with my mouse over the run workout on the 9th, and you can see the details of that workout on the far right:



Buckeye Outdoors really surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it THIS much. I’d never heard of it before people started recommending it, and it sounded like something for fans of Ohio State that liked to canoe (or something like that).

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:



All the info is there that I want to see. Swim, bike, run, and strength workouts are all there in different colors. There are weekly totals at the end of the week, and monthly totals at the bottom. I can track my weight if I want to, and I have the power to make that invisible to other users if I’d like (you can see my weight on a few days when I weighed myself). If you want more info on a workout scroll over it, and more info will pop up. Here I am with my mouse over the 12 miler on the 16th, and you can see all my notes:



It easy to add races to your schedule, and then you can see who else is planned to do the race. (In fact, it was because I had the TC 10 Miler on my schedule last Oct that Emily [BikerGrrrl on Beginner Triathlete] knew I’d be running, and she snapped a photo of me that she sent to me.) You can read other people’s race reports if you find a race you’re thinking about doing. Here’s my race list:



At Beginner Triathlete, you can add equipment and note when you use it (Training Peaks has something like that too). I use it like most people: to track mileage on my running shoes. That info appears in your “blog” on Beginner Triathete. You can put whatever info you want in the header of your blog (I have my 2009 races listed, and I need to update it for 2010). Here’s my “blog” on BT, with a few things that I’ve noted:



A: Graph of my recent workouts by week (all run and swim right now...).
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.

45 comments:

MM 2:31 AM, February 04, 2010  

I use my own google document sreadsheet. But I tell people to use Buckeye Online or BT if people want interactive type things.

Oh, and to clarify, i said Aquaphor smells LESS like diaper paste...cause it doesn't smell like diaper paste at all.

Jen 5:29 AM, February 04, 2010  

Thank you. I am going to check out BT.

Kirsten 6:21 AM, February 04, 2010  

You forgot to check out RunningAHEAD.com! I know at least one runner who left Buckeye in favor of RA. I've been using it to log runs for almost 4 years and now also log bike stuff.

Carlee 6:46 AM, February 04, 2010  

Thanks Steve, currently I use my own spreadsheet plus a facebook app from brooks that works for me. Neither of them is great though and these look like good ideas to ty come next training cycle.

Jumper 2.0 7:19 AM, February 04, 2010  

I've been using Buckeye for over 2 years now! Really like it but maybe i'll start at BT to see if I like it better.

Matt Ellenberger 7:21 AM, February 04, 2010  

My two cents: I use Daily Mile, Buckeye Outdoors, and my own paper log.I've found, as you mentioned, that Daily Mile is pretty much another facebook. Its roundsup like you mentioned, which can be a little anoying. I keep mine for the social aspect, plus, I like the look. Yeah it may not be 'Professional' but its a change from the route calandar that buckeye has. One thing I hate hate hate is its near impossible to track milage on a pair of shoes. Its easy to add new equipment, but viewing it after that is a challenge. Buckeye Outdoors on the other hand, is damn near perfect. Its all my training dreams come true

drdaven 7:34 AM, February 04, 2010  

I just use my calendar at the office, but Buckeye and BT both look very interesting.
Thanks for the great review!

Kim 7:42 AM, February 04, 2010  

Through Jen Harrison, we all use training peaks - they just switched over to a new format and its taking some getting used to - but i can see my monthly workouts - you cant? i give TP an A-

crossn81 7:45 AM, February 04, 2010  

I'll ditto Kirsten. I love RunningAhead.com it might not have all the hippest social media interaction tools, but it is a great interface for logging data and has a very active discussion board!

Jennifer Harrison 7:58 AM, February 04, 2010  

THIS post is extremely timely for me, Steve. Tomorrow I have a 90 min conference call with Gear F (co-founder of Training peaks) because I HATE HATE the new format. TP made an "upgrade" and what you have listed here is their upgrade. It is a total mess for a lot of us.

I spend 40+ hours on TP per week...probably more to be honest...and I am NOT a tech person. I am a Triathlon coach. So, I do NOT need all the bells and whistles - it is overkill..and I am talking to Gear tomorrow b/c I was saying I would move all my business to another online log if I could find ONE that was as thorough as TP - like the "CLASSIC" version of TP.

I had never heard of the last log, so I will take a peek at that. For me, I need to be able to interact on the log and have a full time staff of support at that log..that is something TP does...and why I stay with them...plus I have 12 years of workouts written in TP, so that in itself is scarey to me.....

Because I am on TP all the time (and need a break from it), I personally use www.fitnessjournal.com and absolutely love it. Clean and simple. I just enter my workouts in there....my coach (is old school) and sends me my workouts via email (oh my gosh, i know!)....

Thanks Steve...:)

KayVee 8:05 AM, February 04, 2010  

I use both TP and BT. My coach uses TP, and that's the only reason I use it. I am not a big fan for many reasons. The whole "initializing" process makes me crazy. It frustrates me to no end to have to correct my Garmin data because TP can't get it accurate...they blame it on Garmin, but I have no problems uploading on BT. Most recently, when I enter my yards swam, say 2050, TP will just randomly change it to something like 2031. WTF? Plus, I really like the interaction on BT. BTW, these reviews are awesome!

Jen Worden 8:10 AM, February 04, 2010  

Steve, I've been following your series "Does it work?" and so far, this is the best! Maybe because training logs are so essential to the process and once you've committed even a week or two's worth it simply seems a horrendous task to find something that meshes better. I've only used TP, my coach uses it, and have found many of the contentious issues you did. I'll be checking out BT.

BTW would you be adverse to me re-posting this on LiveMultiSport?
I'd add an intro to you and give you full copyright etc. I think your review would be really helpful to our readers. Please let me know!

Steve Stenzel 8:11 AM, February 04, 2010  

Jen H, I know of a few people that have come over to BT from TP after their "upgrade." I didn't know the details of what happened there, so I didn't bring it up in my post.

I don't think BT has that "coaching" aspect that TP has - I'm PRETTY sure you can't leave workouts for a client in BT like you can in TP. So good luck working it out with TP!! Let me know how that meeting goes!!

Steve Stenzel 8:12 AM, February 04, 2010  

Jen W, feel free to post this info where ever you'd like! Hopefully it will help some people out! Thanks!!

Dave 8:21 AM, February 04, 2010  

Huh. I use TrainingPeaks, but I'm an Ohio State fan who likes to canoe. Go figure.

Greyt Times 8:26 AM, February 04, 2010  

Someone may have mentioned it above, but TP changed to this new format and most of us have not been happy about it. It was so much better before - a lot more like Buckeye Outdoors. For a while you could switch back to Classic mode, but that is going away too. Booo.

Nice post.

itsallrelative 8:28 AM, February 04, 2010  

I am a huge fan of BT...I have been actively using the logs for about 5 months and lurking around for at least a year. The site is very well put together - but truly the forums are what makes the site. Any advice you want or need is available. The people are very friendly and encouraging...one of my favorite features is the ability to "inspire" other folks on the site (attaching a quick one-liner to a specific workout for a friend letting them know something positive about their workouts).

Fantastic site, great technical support, and great people.

Thanks for the review!

Christi 8:40 AM, February 04, 2010  

Thanks for such a comprehensive study. I personally have been using a Excel spreadsheet that I created. I am very attached to it but have been thinking about using Beginnertriathlete. I guess I will give it a go and see which one works best for me. Thanks Steve!

Stefanie 8:41 AM, February 04, 2010  

I used to do a personal spreedsheet when it was just for running but since tri training I have used BT. LOve Love Love it!

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot 8:52 AM, February 04, 2010  

Steve - great review! I have tried TP, Wellsphere, and daily mile and had the same exprience as you did. And I only use BT now as well and it is wonderful. On BT I was able to upload my 1/2IM training program to the "planned" calander and then I am able to compare it to the "actual" calander. Very cool andpractical site!

If you don't mind I'd like to link to this on my blog! Thanks again!
Jeff

Laura 8:55 AM, February 04, 2010  

BT actually does do coaching, though it's not well-publicized (and - disclaimer - I've not used this service, though I've been a member on the site for about 5 years now).

Link to more information:
http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/cms/article-detail.asp?articleid=1163

And - I agree with your assessment. I've used TP - both old and new - because my coach had been using it, but was never thrilled with it. BT has had my loyalty for a long time now, both for the awesomeness of the tools and their responsiveness to users' needs.

Carolina John 8:57 AM, February 04, 2010  

I use a spreadsheet b/c it explains things exactly the way i want to see them and lets me get my totals. it's worked for the last year or so. bt looks good though. i like the idea of being able to share your log and view others race reports.

Emily W 9:13 AM, February 04, 2010  

Another feature of BT (with a premium account) is that you can load your own plan, or use one of theirs, and that unlocks a lot of power to compare actual versus planned, etc. In fact, I think the graphing is possibly the best feature. I agree that it's clunky to find what you need at first, but the cool part is that it's usually in there somewhere...

I just started with Training Peaks this week with my new coach. I will add my workouts and notes for her, but I definitely don't like it as much as BT. Although I probably have a lot to learn about using it and will need to watch the little demo videos.

kT 9:58 AM, February 04, 2010  

I have to confess, I use a 3-ring binder with monthly calendar sheets. And I'm a scientist, so I'm not tech-averse or anything. I guess the issue for me is that I don't actually total up miles (yds, time, whatever) on a regular basis. I record data about my workouts on the sheet, and I do go back and look at stuff for comparisons (like what my 100-yd swim split is this month vs. 6 months ago. Slow, in case you're curious.) I do have a coach--she uses the hard copy as well (though she may have an electronic version somewhere that I just don't see), and I meet with her one-on-one, so I don't need her to post workouts electronically.

So I'm curious what kinds of things folks do with the ability to total and track things? I'm obsessive about tracking certain things (like split or HR data on tests), just not about mileage totals. (My coach keeps track of that kind of thing in a global sense, so my mileage increases or decreases appropriately, but for me the intensity and outcomes are at least as important as the quantity in figuring out what's working.)

D 10:28 AM, February 04, 2010  

hah! I see Miss Daisy beat me to the TP rant. Everyone should just go read what she has to say and then assume I feel the same. SUCK IT, TP!

I totally agree with you on Faily... oops... Daily Mile too. I'm "only" a runner again and I still think it's crap (but not as crap as TP!!!). I'll make sure I head back there if I ever need a virtual hug though *snort*

I've used Running Ahead a bit and thought it was pretty ok. Doesn't beat Maggs log of choice though.

Alisa 11:00 AM, February 04, 2010  

I'm a BuckeyeOutdoor user. The only thing that I wish it had was an iPhone app! =)

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) 2:57 PM, February 04, 2010  

I love, love, love Beginner Triathlete! That site is what got me started in triathlons! The plans are awesome and the advice you get from the forums is priceless.

That being said, I also use Buckeye Outdoors. I like their little calendar. I also really like how you can post a snapshot of your daily/weekly/ or monthly workouts on your actual blog.

Runner Leana 3:15 PM, February 04, 2010  

I use Buckeye Outdoors. One thing that I'm not fond of is that the categories for different workouts is limited...so thinks like core or skiing go in the "Other" category...which then doesn't get totalled in the weekly report. I asked the site owner about this and apparently there is an upgrade in the works so users will be able to create their own category of workouts. That should be pretty cool!

I use SportTracks on my computer to upload my Garmin and save that data, then with the click of a mouse I can upload that Garmin data to Buckeye Outdoors which I think is pretty cool.

Kathy 3:56 PM, February 04, 2010  

I was doing triathlons when most of you were in diapers, so I don't have any problem admitting I LURVE me some Daily Mile. :) I've never been a runner, but started last year. I love the motivational aspect of DM, I love the challenges and the groups. But the friending thing is weird and i really have very little in common with many of my "friends" but I am getting to know more runners. When you're really isolated, like I am, it is nice to have some kind of community.

Oddly enough, the only other community that I recognized was BT. I started an account there a while ago but then forgot about it.

One place I love for gear tracking is mapmyrun. I hate DM's gear tracking, but the mapmyrun tracking is AMAZING. So I created my own spreadsheet as a backup to DM. I think I'll have to go check out BT again.

Chic Runner 5:20 PM, February 04, 2010  

I totally agree with you on Daily mile. it's so annoying and I don't need any more creeps creeping around! ha ha okay I'm being awkward now. But I use running ahead and just upload my garmin when I run. no other time to chart meh meh. :) Loved the post though!

Sparklinglady 6:05 PM, February 04, 2010  

buckeyoutdoors!!! i love it! and for those that mentioned it, you can use your iphone! just go to the site in the safari browser and the site reformats into an iphone format perfectly. its awesome. i also use a spreadsheet...

T 9:10 PM, February 04, 2010  

for a site to do the math for me (in terms of averages), i use the voomaxer app on facebook. other than that, i'm old school and use a notebook.

beginner triathlete sounds cool though, and i may check into that when i get into more serious racing.

michwea 9:17 PM, February 04, 2010  

Great post. Couldn't agree more with your choice of Beginner Triathlete. A little busy and clunky at first, but once you get your rhythm down, it's awesome. I still have accounts with Daily Mile and Buckeye Outdoors that I keep up to date (BT doesn't have a way to update Facebook or Twitter yet and Daily Mile does, and I've never gotten around to changing out the Buckeye Outdoors training log widget on my blog) but BT is definitely the best. Thanks for giving us the low down on upcoming enhancements to the blog functionality. Sounds sweet!

Borsch 7:15 AM, February 05, 2010  

I'm with you on the BT! I've used Buckeye a little bit but love BT's calendar the best, which is the more important part for me....

Adam 10:18 AM, February 05, 2010  

That settles it. I'm going to have to try buckeye.

Stuart 2:50 PM, February 05, 2010  

No SportsTracks?

I use ST and it writes to Buckeye, so it's all automated

Sheba 9:23 PM, February 05, 2010  

Lots of great info here. I was recently looking at Training Peaks, because my friend Jen uses it. I have an account on BT but haven't used it except for the information on the forums.

I have been using www.Sweat365.com for a couple years. It is more like a blogging site, with a focus on multi-sports workouts. Lots of multi-sports people so a great community. It aloows you to run a number of different reports to compare progress from month to month. They are still a new site and planning to add more features.

I also use www.Sparkpeople.com for the food journal, but I don't care for thier fitness tracking options.

Glad I found your blog, looks like lots of great stuff here.

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Calyx Meredith 4:49 PM, February 17, 2010  

I know I'm late to the party here, but did you check out workoutlog.com? It doesn't have the article archive like BT but is easy to use and very clear to see lots of workouts at a glance. It's used a lot by coaches around here. Would love to know what you think about it. Maybe you'll do a second round? Love all the new posts you're doing. (Erm, except for the gnarly injury photo one.)

Anonymous,  4:15 PM, March 09, 2010  

Hmm that's amazing but frankly i have a hard time figuring it... wonder what others have to say..

Cyborg Queen 3:45 PM, May 24, 2010  

I know I'm VERY late to this party, but I was just browsing your blog on "Does it Work" series, and saw this post.

I personally use TP and BT. I noticed that you may have made a boo boo on the TP logs (unless if they updated it before I used it, but I don't think so, because I've used it since January).

You can adjust the two weeks to 4 weeks so it doesn't look "long". Just go to settings/calendar and you'll see how many weeks you want to show up. Ta da. Didn't know whether you knew that or not.

Anonymous,  12:35 AM, October 14, 2010  

This is half entertaining. But then again I am extremely high right now

Anonymous,  6:56 PM, December 30, 2010  

Just popping in to say nice site.

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