My year in workouts: insights from the 2FNS tracking system
So it’s New Year’s: the time of year for looking back and planning ahead, and this year, thanks to Jon and everyone else at 2 Fat Nerds, for the first time in my life, I have an entire year of better fitness and exercise habits to look back upon and celebrate!
But, the thing that’s maybe even more exciting, since I am a nerd, is that now I also have an entire year of sweet, sweet data to sift through and analyze, and it’s all right there in our ever-improving tracking system.
The system has all kinds of neat features, and once you get on a roll with a few weeks or months of workouts in the books, the graphs can become quite helpful for spotting patterns and setting new goals. My favorite out of all the graphs is actually one that I convinced Jon to develop (my lazy idea, his hard work): it’s the Intensity of Workouts graph, which you can find in the ‘Workout Overview’ section’s drop-down menu:
While the default overview graph shows how much AFP I’ve earned each workout day, which is useful for seeing my total productivity, the intensity graph takes exercise duration out of the equation. This leaves me with a measure of how hard I am really working each time I lace up my running shoes or head to the gym. And now that I have a full year of workouts in the system, I’ve got a graph that looks something like this:
How neat! It might not look like much to you, but to me, those clusters of dots tell the story of my first year as a slightly-more-fit nerd:
I was apparently a rock star in February and March, having just gotten bitten by the 2 Fat Nerds bug and preparing earnestly for my first ever ‘official’ 5K in April. That dense cluster of workouts on the first third of the graph, right around 0.8 to 0.9 intensity, is a combination of outdoor jogging, elliptical cross-training, and, on the days when it was really cold outside, treadmill running.
I didn’t sustain the effort in the weeks after that first 5K. Even though I had already signed up for that next milestone, the 10K race in June, apparently I let finishing that first race become my excuse for allowing myself to slack off for basically the entire months of May and June. The result was a really, really disappointing showing for the B.A.A. 10K, in which I walked most of the way between the 5th and 6th mile markers and finished about 15 minutes later than I had hoped. But, based on the graph, this result really shouldn’t have surprised me too much: I did almost nothing to prepare!
The Chain Game got me logging workouts again, but at first, those ‘workouts’ were not exactly rigorous. In an effort to not let the team down during the June/July chain-building challenge, I began entering things like ‘House Cleaning,’ ‘Walking,’ and, famously (or perhaps infamously) on June 20th, ‘Sauna Sitting’ to represent a particularly hot night on the softball diamond.
Buying a bike enabled me to shift gears, and string together a very successful 20-week workout chain that spanned late summer into early fall. Check out the neat row of workouts around the 0.65 to 0.7 range, circled in green! Biking to work three to four times per week in the nice weather was a really great fitness solution because my commute became my exercise time. I was chugging along just fine, until…
Colder weather forced me to switch strategies again, which you can kind of see in November, with the little group of workouts around 0.55 intensity. These were mostly cardio videos at home, which I busted out on Monday and Tuesday nights in last-ditch efforts to forge my weekly chain link. Happily, my fitness base from all of that bike commuting, and outdoor running maybe once every week or so, was solid enough that I was able to make a relatively strong showing at the 5K I ran with my family on Thanksgiving.
So, that was my year at a glance. What did I learn from all of this, and how will it inform my planning for 2013? Stay tuned!