Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sport Tracks, Strava and Trainer Road

Sport Tracks

If you want to record and analyse your bicycle rides or runs, you'll need some sort of GPS enabled device. I have a Garmin Forerunner. After my ride I can upload this to my PC and analyse the data using Sport Tracks.

Here is my last ride up a local hill called Fyrish. Whilst out on the trail you can hit the lap button, but you can also add the lap positions using SportTracks. I also have a record of my heart rate and what zones my heart rate was in throughout. This particular ride has some tough parts which would have been spent in Zone 4 and 5.

Here's the profile of the ride which also shows the grade in percent and my heart rate.

There's also a section where you can generate reports and charts of your rides. Here's a nice one showing what heart rate zones I spent my time in during 2013.

You can also get plugins which extend the useability into whatever analyses you want. One I have discovered recently is training load. A wonderful visual interpretation of your training. This extra plugin is $12.

What you get here is basically, Blue = Fitness Red = Fatigue Green = the balance between the two. The orange spikes are my workouts and cycles. You can see how my fitness has progressed since September and my week off at Christmas time.

The full version of Sport Tracks is now $35, it was cheaper many years ago. There is no subscription just a one off payment.


You can also upload your rides to Strava. They have a bot that will automatically highlight an interesting part of your ride and make it into a segment. This could be a hill. Anyone else who rides that hill will be added to the leaderboard.
The good thing is, you can also make your own segments so if they missed your favorite offroad hill climb or downhill you can just add it yourself.

You can see the list of all the segments I covered on the ride.

This is the Car Park To Monument segment. It's the biggest hill climb on the ride.

Strava can also provide more in depth analyses based on your power meter reading and heart rate but you have to pay for them and there not as good as the the Sport Tracks tools. 

Trainer Road

This is my latest discovery and a real help if you struggle with the boredom of indoor Turbo sessions.

For six dollars a month you get structured sigle workouts or whole workout plans lasting several weeks, you can even make your own workouts and add in video workouts from the likes of Sufferfest !

Set the bike on the trainer, plug in your ANT+ dongle pick a workout and away you go.

The plans are based on your personal LTHR or FTP, this is basically the amount of power you are capable of delivering over a period of time. If you don't know it, then sit there fitness test, The Rubber Glove.

From that moment forward ALL your workouts will be derived from your FTP. Power readings can be taken from your chosen power meter or derived from virtualPower, that is related to the speed of your Turbo Trainer. This is very dependent on your turbo set up and tyre pressure, consistency is the key.

Heres a quick view of some of my workouts whilst following a program based around threshold power.

Whilst training you can have Netflix or Youtube running on screen. Or you can choose a Sufferfest video to ride along with. They have one for rubberglove. The videos are perfectly synced and start when you start pedaling.

All of the above tools help me to stay motivated and when I'm not out or on the Turbo Trainer I can spend hours analysing my rides :)

The Fight Against Degenerative Knee Pain

Over the years I have enjoyed many outdoor pursuits from running to rock climbing. I have had some minor knee issues since the mid nineties but always overcame them. The knee pain started getting the better of me in the mid noughties accompanied by shoulder and thumb pains.
Several visits to the physio later we realized the knee problems were of a degenerative nature, basically arthritis.

Here's a look at how my cycling was affected after managing to get back on the bike and put in some mileage in 2008 then suffering constant pain and swelling over the next few years.
All this time ( since 2008 ) I had been using a piece of software called Sport Tracks to record my rides, this is done by taking a GPS device and in my case a heart rate monitor on all the rides.

I hate to be a plot spoiler but you may have noticed that something happened in 2013 ! Well lets just see how bad it got by looking at the record I kept that year. The daftest thing like bending the knee too much whilst crouching down would results in a wee of limping and my knee swelling up up like a football !

I tried to cycle more in 2013 and it did seem to help a little, sometimes my knee was so swollen that I cimply couldn't turn the cranks. Running had been completely abandoned after even the shortest run left me crippled.

I slowly increased my cycling mileage but I was still in a lot of pain and could not stand on the pedals, I needed a wee boost to help me out so arranged for a cortisone injection in September 2013.

Eureka. Cue the mileage increase, the fitness increase and the muscle increase !

I re-discovered Strava. The first time I tried it I wasn't sure that racing on certain segments every time I went out was going to be enjoyable, but now it was the perfect training motivation for me. I uploaded GPX files that I had from 2008 and tried to beat my times. I would just take it easy on the non segmented parts and go all out on a segment. My mileage (Km) increased.

I knew the cycling was working and helping to keep the pain and swelling away even though the effectiveness of the injection must have been slowly wearing off. I needed something else to make sure I could cycle with the winter weather approaching.

I needed a Turbo Trainer. I had one years before and sold it as it was so boring cycling in the house. I then discovered Trainer Road. This is an excellent online tool with workouts and full programs.

All this time ( since 2008 ) I had been using a piece of software called Sport Tracks to record my rides, this is done by taking a GPS device and in my case a heart rate monitor on all the rides.

All of the above, Sport Tracks, Strava and Trainer Road have helped me in my battle, there's also the work on the road and trail but that's the fun part.

Its now January. I have minor niggles and can still feel pain whilst cycling or even walking down the stairs, but its nowhere near as bad as it was and I don't have the frequent swelling to deal with anymore.

I'm still beating my times on Strava segments from 2008.

I'll do a separate, more in depth blog on the above tools and how they can be used together to keep you cycling.