Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Brief iPhone App Explanation and Training Update.

Lately I've been slacking on my running and instead focusing on my bike endurance and power, but today I went out for a long run at about threshold pace.  The next race on my schedule is a sprint right here in my hometown of Bozeman, MT.  I've already biked and ran the course just to get an idea of what to expect.  The run leg is a great mile out and back followed with a single loop around Glen Lake. 

While I was in WA this past Spring I met up with a friend who I've known since high school.  He talked me into doing my first criterium bike race (super fun) and he also introduced me to an application for my iPhone called Strava.  Little did I know then how useful it would be in my training.  The app can be used to track a variety of different moving workouts.  It measures distance, elevation, time, splits, calories burned, power and a bunch of other features.

Without explaining too much about the features, I'll just show you some examples of a running workout I did earlier today in preparation for my upcoming half ironman.

Once the workout is finished and sent to the Strava network, all of the statistics are laid out.  
The app has a bike default because it was developed for riding but you can change it
to a wide selection of workouts so that the stats are calibrated.
Distances, elevations and speeds are deduced through GPS, hence the nice looking map below. 

In the run format, the app generates this handy mile by mile table.  GAP is grade adjusted pace.  So when you tackle any kind of incline or decline it offers a pace that would be maintained on flats.

I thought this was a fun tracking feature.  Different distances are displayed with overall times and the average pace during that segment.  If you look at my 5K and 10K times you see medals attached to the left side.  Since I've completed these distances in faster times using the app, it notifies me when I've achieved a PR, best time, or bested a previous time.
 Okay this is where the app gets really fun. 
 Last week I ran this course and upon uploading the information for that workout, I created a "segment" titled Glen Lake Large Loop.  Now anybody who uses the app and runs this course will be placed an a leaderboard for their time in this specific location.  Something I didn't mention before is that anybody using the Strava network can create segments of their own.  Which means that you can search through the "Segment" network to find a hill, TT, loop, or stretch of road where others have been posted to.  When a PR is achieved the app notifies you.

Now I'm a poor college student currently so I haven't gone out and bought the premium version which offers heart rate monitoring and plethora of extra features.  Most of which can hone a training session or make it more fun.  Even in the basic form the user is encouraged to "follow" other riders/runners.  Last night I joined the local bike racing circuit and one of the local riders I follow from the area participated in the same road race as I.  So his stats show up when he completes a workout.  It's one way to compare my improvements other than solely against my past achievements.

So if you feel like getting more competitive with others/yourself or you would just 
like to track how far you went and how fast.  This app is free and easy to use.  

Going out for a hike?  Track your elevation gain and see it on a map.  
Don't have a bike computer?  Throw your phone in a pouch and 
see how fast you went down that big hill on the other side of town. 

 It's a lot more fun than playing Angry Birds on your couch.