Reviews of new training tools

I’m trying out some new tools this year. Let’s discuss.

First up – Strava, for tracking my training.

Hm. I don’t know where all of these magic segments start and end, so I’m usually just pleasantly suprised when I upload my Garmin data and find that I am on a leaderboard (or not) for a particular climb. Maybe this will become more obvious when I learn the routes in my area better… but I really hope I manage to NOT get sucked in to researching the start/stop of each segment prior to a ride. Seriously, I do not have time for that shizz.
Other Strava feedback:
  • I wish I could enter my non-GPS stuff on the mobile app. Chances are good that I have my phone with me at the gym when I do a treadmill or spin workout, but I have to wait until I’m at an actual computer to manually add that workout. I can totally do this now!
  • I do like that I can add my swim/spin/treadmill stuff at all – does help me to see what I’ve done over the past week in terms of total time spent training (minus strength/core/PT  including strength/yoga in the generic “workout” sector), but I don’t think this is really the intention of the product.
  • The social component of Strava – where you can follow people and comment on their activities is much more fun than expected. I’m helped by having a few buddies that seem into making comments and hope to do more of this myself. It feels great to have a friend give you kudos for a training session!
  • Wish I could enter a swim session in terms of yards, instead of converting yards to miles, since the website then converts to yards anyway!
  • I’m not using the premium features, but the idea of a “suffer score” seems like it could be an interesting carrot for some athletes looking to rank their workouts.
iPhone music app – Songza.
I frickin LOVE this app, which allows you to select from many curated playlists. Activities include “cardio,” which equates to some great, uptempo, fun music. I could not do a treadmill, or self-taught spin, workout without this app (thankful my gym has wifis).
  • I have not yet found a limit to the song-skip (thumbs down) feature. This is helpful, since I seem to like about 2/3 of the NPR workout mix.
  • Doesn’t appear that you can download entire playlists, but you can buy songs off the app. There are some songs that I hella wish I had on my shuffle (Running mix is circa 2008. Ouch.)
  • No ads in between songs (I don’t remember if I paid for it or not, but if I did, I guarantee it was not more than $2.99)
Triathlon speed/pace/time monitor system.
Historically, I’ve just worn a standard Ironman Timex on my wrist, clicked “lap” for each event and used whatever bike computer I had – be it a basic wireless computer, or my Garmin. Then I did Ironman and used my Garmin throughout. I really liked having my pace on my wrist for the run and now want to try it for other races – but other races don’t come with a transition volunteer to help you get your watch on your bike, or back on your wrist for the run. PLUS, I’m getting greedy and want a cadence monitor on my bike.
I was thinking about adding a cadence sensor to my Garmin and setting it up for transitions.
Here’s the how to from GPS/tri training equipment reviewer DC Rainmaker. Cons, as I see them?
  • h/t Brett – do I want to fumble with a little piece of equipment while I have cold hands after the swim? Shaky hands after the bike? What if I don’t lock it in properly?
  • The plastic strap for the 310XT looks uncomfortable on my smallish wrist
  • The clip on the new strap makes the computer sit up even higher on your wrist, which would take some getting used to on the run, and annoying as heck with a wetsuit for the swim.
So…I just installed the Cateye Strada Double Wireless. This tool is supposed to track your cadence AND speed – hence the double in the name.
  • Got the cadence piece to register, not the speed piece
  • I’m a little uneasy about having components just zip-tied to my frame and crankarm – there’s a magnet on my crankarm and a sensor on the chainstay.
  • I’m not sure if the speed isn’t registering because I didn’t correctly allow the sensors to get ID’d, or because they’re too far away 
  • I may be spoiled by the easy UI of the Garmin. I really hope that once I get the speed function working, that the time/speed/average speed/distance will just scroll on its own. I do not know if it will do that!
  • UPDATE: I took this off my bike because I was having a tough time getting the infos to all connect. Will either be selling to someone with more patience, or trying it again sometime (7/26/13).
My tri club has put our IM training plan into Training Peaks, so I may give that a shot. Comments to follow.
Other tools you want me to discuss?
Reader (only?) and former training husband, Ryan, reminded me that Strava is not a substitute for my blog and that he actually enjoys reading my posts. Awwww. Thank you!