Week 18, Day 3: Short Run / Running Tech Stack

Today's Run: 5 Mile General Aerobic

Another General Aerobic run today. Just five miles (eight kilometres). One thing I've found about runs this short - when I've been sitting at fairly high mileage for a while - is that the challenge isn't to do the run but to avoid going out too hard. Today was no exception. The first couple of miles I found myself feeling strong and running faster than I should have. But I settled in and finished the run fairly easy.

At this early stage in training, partially because I took so much time off before this, my average heart rate is sitting a little higher than usual, and consequently my BPM during the run were higher than ideal. But I'm okay with that for now, because this should all even out after a week or two as I get back into the routine. Nothing much more to add about the run itself today. Just a few relatively easy miles. But I'll use this opportunity to describe, and reflect a bit on, the increasingly complex number of apps I've been using to track my progress over the past little while.

Running Tech Stack

Before Garmin (BG), I typically ran with my phone, using Nike+ Run Club or Strava to record the run. This meant no heart rate data. Almost the equivalent of going back to my high school days using a Casio and a pen-and-paper log. But things have changed rather dramatically, almost to the point of being unwieldy. Let me see if I can list everything I now use:

Running TechMain Purpose
Garmin ConnectGPS tracking, shoe mileage, sleep, heart rate, training status, stress, steps, calories
StravaRecord of activities, social networking, segments and personal records, shoe mileage
Training PeaksTraining and events calendar, training plan construction and details, weekly training compliance
SmashrunExtra metrics and records not tracked by Strava, Garmin, Training Peaks, or NRC.
DressMyRunWeather-based equipment and clothing management, planning daily timing of runs.
MyFitnessPalCalorie / nutrition tracking, interface between VeSyncFit and Garmin
FacebookSocial networking and event planning through the Milton Running Group and race pages.
VeSyncFitTrack fitness scale measurements: weight, body fat, muscle mass, etc.
Nike Run ClubLegacy from the old days.

/ This is a rather long list, and many of these apps offer overlapping features, but I've found that most of them offer at least one unique useful thing that aids my training in some way. Either that, or in the case of a few of these there's only one way to get information out of one ecosystem and into another using some other app as an intermediary. E.g., VeSyncFit data syncs with MyFitnessPal but not Garmin; but MyFitnessPal syncs with Garmin, so all three are required to make the data transitive.

I also wouldn't say that all of this is necessary. I could probably stick to just Garmin Connect for 99% of what I need. But it's been really interesting generating massive amounts of data and trying to put it all together in a coherent picture that might shed light on current or future training progress. If I were to try to cut back, I'd probably stick with just Garmin Connect and MyFitnessPal. But in order to do that, I'd either have to enter weight / fitness-scale data manually in Garmin Connect, or I'd have to shell out for a Garmin scale - ecosystem loyalty is expensive!

Training Peaks has been excellent for implementing and following training plans. It's got a far better interface than Garmin Connect, and makes modifying entire weeks or shifting things, planning for future events, straightforward.

Roughly, the way I tend to put all of this together is as follows:

I wear my Garmin watch pretty much 24/7, so it records all my fitness activities, sleep, heart rate, and so on. Most activities are immediately automatically shared to Strava and Training Peaks.

I create and manage my training plans in Training Peaks, which automatically sends and updates planned activities to Garmin Connect (and my watch).

Completed runs are automatically synced from Strava to Smashrun, where I can see things like my top 20 quickest runs of a given run's distance.

If I'm unsure what I'm going to wear for a run, I'll check DressMyRun just to get a sense of what should work.

When I'm trying to manage race-weight or training nutritional needs, I'll log food and water intake in MyFitnessPal, which syncs automatically with Garmin and Training Peaks. Otherwise, MyFitnessPal is just for interfacing between my off-brand fitness scale and Garmin Connect.

VeSyncFit is the tracking app for the fitness scale. It's not the most accurate thing in the world, but I like having automatic rough numbers for weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, BMI, etc, especially over time.

Nike Run Club I keep around because it's what I started using originally. It automatically syncs with Garmin, and I suppose eventually I'll hit Nike's highest mileage level-Volt-an arbitrary achievement, but not nothin'!

That's pretty much it as far as apps. Next short-run day I think I'll list out my winter gear in a similar way. Two runs down, 100+ to go!