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Essential Tools for Tracking Your Training Progress

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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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