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Essential Tools for Tracking Your Training Progress

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Essential Tools for Tracking Your Training Progress

If you do not measure you cannot improve. This is a simple truth but very often overlooked. Even with the best intentions, you will plateau very quickly if you don’t have measurements to support you when you plan your training. If you just recently started training it may not seem like a big deal, as focus is often placed on making sure you keep training. If you start measuring your progress early on, you will thank yourself for it later, and remember that it’s never too late to start.

one workout away from a good mood

    A very common misconception is that you will remember everything that you do, and that those memories are enough for you to make proper adjustments. This is definitely not the case: your memories will be colored by a lot of things, such as your mood, the weather, your workload etc, etc. When you try to think back to see what has worked for you, there is no way you can make sound adjustments based only on memories.—this is where numbers become very powerful: hard-recorded numbers and facts don’t lie!

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    Gather your facts!

    The number one thing you need to keep on top of your training is a journal. A journal will take the stress out of remembering every training session, and it will fill up with with solid facts that you can refer back to. When you want to look back and see what has been working for you, all you need should be in your journal. Below are some ways of keeping track of what you do.

    Pen and paper

    The old fashioned written journal is still a good tool, and it works for most people. Simply keep a notebook where you write down every gym session, every run, or Pilates session. Write down as much information as possible: what you did, when you did it, what it felt like, etc. The more information you gather the better. The pen and paper approach has one big drawback, and that is in the analysis phase: your notebook will not be any help at all when trying to figure out how everything fits together, so you will have to figure that out yourself.

    Spreadsheet

    One step up on the technology scale is to use a program such as Excel, or Google docs spreadsheet. You would basically collect the same information as with a written journal, but the spreadsheet itself will make the analysis much easier if you track relevant data.

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    Download Work Out Planner Spreadsheet

    Online tracking services

    To make it even easier to track relevant data, you can leverage the knowledge of experts who have already done the job for you. You simply open a free account with RunKeeper or Endomondo (for running, walking, cycling, etc.) and enter your data there. Analysis is also made a whole lot easier as the makers of the online service have done a lot of thinking for you. Once you have created an online account, the next step is to use your smartphone (providing you have one) as your data entry tool. Just download the app and get cracking. The great side effect here is that your smart phone becomes your stop watch, and the built-in GPS tracks your speed and distance. That’s a lot of tracking with just one device.

    RunKeeper –  More than 14 million people who are using this app to build a training community.

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    Endomondo – Make fitness fun with this personal trainer and social fitness app.

    GPS

    If you prefer not to use your smartphone, a GPS watch or similar is crucial for tracking your running routes and speed. You can of course do this by mapping out and measuring your routes and using a stop watch to time yourself, but although this works, using a GPS tracker means that you are free to improvise your route. Uploading the GPS data to your computer and online accounts is very easy as well.

    Heart rate monitor

    Heart rate monitors are great for knowing how hard your body is working and if your training is in the correct zone. Together with a smartphone and an app collecting data connected to GPS coordinates, keeping track of your speed and progress is super simple.

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    Foot pod

    The foot pod is a great tool when you are working on getting your running cadence up to the right level. When connected to the GPS in your smartphone, it offers lots of opportunities to see how your technique progresses through a session.

    Conclusion

    Having a journal is essential for putting all of this together, and if you go the smartphone route, you have a great way of consolidating your data. A lot of your work with summarizing your info is made very easy and almost automatic if you use your smartphone as the hub.

    What do you use to keep track of your training progress?

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    Last Updated on January 27, 2022

    5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

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    5 Reasons Why Food is the Best Way to Understand a Culture

    Food plays an integral role in our lives and rightfully so: the food we eat is intricately intertwined with our culture. You can learn a lot about a particular culture by exploring their food. In fact, it may be difficult to fully define a culture without a nod to their cuisine.

    “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825).

    Don’t believe me? Here’s why food is the best way to understand a culture:

    Food is a universal necessity.

    It doesn’t matter where in the world you’re from – you have to eat. And your societal culture most likely evolved from that very need, the need to eat. Once they ventured beyond hunting and gathering, many early civilizations organized themselves in ways that facilitated food distribution and production. That also meant that the animals, land and resources you were near dictated not only what you’d consume, but how you’d prepare and cook it. The establishment of the spice trade and the merchant silk road are two example of the great lengths many took to obtain desirable ingredients.

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    Food preservation techniques are unique to climates and lifestyle.

    Ever wonder why the process to preserve meat is so different around the world? It has to do with local resources, needs, and climates. In Morocco, Khlea is a dish composed of dried beef preserved in spices and then packed in animal fat. When preserved correctly, it’s still good for two years when stored at room temperature. That makes a lot of sense in Morocco, where the country historically has had a strong nomadic population, desert landscape, and extremely warm, dry temperatures.

    Staples of a local cuisines illustrate historical eating patterns.

    Some societies have cuisines that are entirely based on meat, and others are almost entirely plant-based. Some have seasonal variety and their cuisines change accordingly during different parts of the year. India’s cuisine is extremely varied from region to region, with meat and wheat heavy dishes in the far north, to spectacular fish delicacies in the east, to rice-based vegetarian diets in the south, and many more variations in between.

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    The western part of India is home to a group of strict vegetarians: they not only avoid flesh and eggs, but even certain strong aromatics like garlic, or root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Dishes like Papri Chat, featuring vegetable based chutneys mixed with yoghurt, herbs and spices are popular.

    Components of popular dishes can reveal cultural secrets.

    This is probably the most intriguing part of studying a specific cuisine. Certain regions of the world have certain ingredients easily available to them. Most people know that common foods such as corn, tomatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate are native to the Americas, or “New World”. Many of today’s chefs consider themselves to be extremely modern when fusing cuisines, but cultural lines blended long ago when it comes to purity of ingredients.

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    Black pepper originated in Asia but became, and still remains, a critical part of European cuisine. The Belgians are some of the finest chocolatiers, despite it not being native to the old world. And perhaps one of the most interesting result from the blending of two cuisines is Chicken Tikka Masala; it resembles an Indian Mughali dish, but was actually invented by the British!

    Food tourism – it’s a whole new way to travel.

    Some people have taken the intergation of food and culture to a new level. No trip they take is complete with out a well-researched meal plan, that dictates not only the time of year for their visit, but also how they will experience a new culture.

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    So, a food tourist won’t just focus on having a pint at Oktoberfest, but will be interested in learning the German beer making process, and possibly how they can make their own fresh brew. Food tourists visit many of the popular mainstays for traditional tourism, like New York City, San Francisco, London, or Paris, but many locations that they frequent, such as Armenia or Laos, may be off the beaten path for most travelers. And since their interest in food is more than meal deep, they have the chance to learn local preparation techniques that can shed insight into a whole other aspect of a particular region’s culture.

    Featured photo credit: Young Shih via unsplash.com

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