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Fitness Points

I keep thinking about something else from the weekend. My friend dichroic has a different relationship with rowing than I do, in large part because speed and success in rowing are pretty strongly tied to height. While I have never been an especially strong or fast heavyweight rower, I've been tall and strong enough to generally keep up with the pack. As a result, when I go to race, more often than not I have a better chance of getting in a "good" race, defined as getting to push myself to the max while surrounded by competitors also pushing themselves to the max. Since P is much smaller in stature, she is rarely so lucky, especially when you consider that the pool of competitors for women's master's rowing isn't all that big to begin with.

But one thing that I admire about P is that she still manages to keep herself motivated and moving. She's much better than I am about being consistent with her training, and to some extent is more of a "numbers" person than I am. For example, both she and T kept track of their daily steps and commented on how they did way more walking on Saturday than usual.

This brought me back to something I've thought about a lot. One of the tools that all three of us use to stay motivated is the rowing logbook provided by Concept2, the company that manufactures rowing ergometers and other rowing-related equipment. There are multiple benefits of the logbook, including that sense of satisfaction one derives from seeing the meters add up over the course of the year. Concept2 also hosts various challenges, such as the Holiday Challenge, which has been very useful over the years for getting me on the ergometer at a time of year when it's tempting to just sleep in and eat all of the cookies.

But I've always been slightly frustrated by the fact that I can't log other activities with the same platform. The Serious Double here in Berkeley manages their training program around completing a certain amount of work within certain intensity ranges each week, but if I want to switch over to that model I need to figure out how to translate bicycling into that system. Even if I do, I won't necessarily be able to gain the social benefit of tracking my fitness in a forum where I can compare my activities to those of teammates. There are plenty of bicycling-specific forums, but then my rowing effort is invisible, and my main focus these days is on rowing.

On the flipside, scrottie has pointed out that, for him, quantifying everything can really suck the fun out of activities. And to some degree, I can see his point. For me, there isn't much point to trying to track how many "steps" I take every day, and I hardly noticed the amount of walking that constituted a lot of walking for P and T. And I'm not entirely happy about what happens to me, psychologically, when I am on a brevet versus just out on a long bike ride for funsies. So maybe I should just let the matter go for the time being and not worry about it too much.

I am thinking, though, about trying to figure out a modified version of the rowing marathon training program to start boosting my rowing fitness over the upcoming months. It could be interesting to try it in the context of completing more of the workouts on the water instead of constant erging.



( 11 remarks — Remark )
Apr. 18th, 2016 05:10 pm (UTC)
THat was really a problem for me when I was doing a lot of lifting as well as rowing. For a while there I was using Fitocracy, which is great for lifting, but it had a couple of issues: first, I was still using the C2 Logbook, so I was having to double-log my rowing, and second, it didn't handle rowing nearly as well. I wouldn't have been able to look up my best half-marathon for the year, or my total meters this year or whatever. Also, I have C2 data going back to 2001 (though I didn't start logging all my water and erg meters til 2004 or so - I was using paper logs before) which makes it really hard to switch to a new platform.

I'm OK with tracking stuff, but I don't think the tracking drives me. I do it *after* the workout as a matter of interest - but I don't, for instance, look up the last piece I did at the same distance to try to match or beat that. I do try to stick to a training plan, but I really have to because I'm so not a distance person naturally. I do watch steps, largely because my current job is sedentary to a degree that bugs me, so it helps me to try to shoehorn in more walking. (But even when I had jobs with more walking, regattas have always meant more walking and even running for me than normal days - I just didn't have numbers for it before.)
Apr. 18th, 2016 05:11 pm (UTC)
Whoops, obviously that was me.
Apr. 18th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC)
I'm also really curious about thinking more about the best way to compare various kinds of effort (e.g. how many "steps" kayaking is worth, heh, or biking, or walking, or climbing up the 5 flights of stairs to the lab).

My main thought is that the thing that probably makes the most sense is to use heart rate as a common metric across activities. I kind of shy away from using heart rate data, though, because I've seen some things that indicate that it can be more effective to train via "perceived effort" for sports that don't have good power output measures (i.e. cycling). I suppose this is because heart rates can shift around due to a number of different factors (i.e. fitness level).
Apr. 18th, 2016 06:41 pm (UTC)
I have a strong suspicion my max HR has gone down with age, too - it's probably been 15 years or so since I checked it rigorously. THat would account for why it's always lower than it "should be" according to my training plan, even when I'm pretty sure I'm at the effort level I should be at.

I can see where keeping track of data too religiously can be as bad as tracking weight for someone with eating issues. I find it interesting, myself, to have the data, but mostly just to know what I've done - more of that "looking back from halfway up the mountain" thing. I probably should use it more than I do for future planning.

Rowing has so many components, too - this past weekend, I really felt like my head wasn't at all ready to race and my technique is probably off due to lack of water time, but my body was actually in pretty good shape in terms of strength and endurance. Sort of odd.
Apr. 19th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
Maybe it makes sense to log some things and have others be just for fun garbage miles. Rowing training coupled with hipster bike touring makes a lot of sense. I like the idea of mixing some hiking in. Nature away from the highways of the brevets would do me a lot of good. On the other hand, the odometer you had and only paid serious attention to at the end of the year was pretty non-invasive. Sitting at the top of South Mountain and taking about nothing but miles and rear ratios is a waste of a good view. Silence would be far better. I may have wandered to the far side of the summit a few times.
Apr. 19th, 2016 04:31 am (UTC)
Gotta agree with Scott - I'm not a fan of a computer in my face telling me numbers. I've banished computers from all my bikes. However, I find MapMyRide useful when I run... mostly to make sure I don't overdo the mileage so that my knees stay healthy. It amuses me to use such a program this way; to make sure I don't run too much.
Apr. 19th, 2016 06:34 am (UTC)
I have many friends with FitBits, so I looked into it. Here's what I found. It might be a way to do it, and still log everything else you do, as well. Not sure how helpful it would be, but since I looked it up, I figured I might as well share. The FitBit does a lot these days.


Apr. 19th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)

This gives me some interesting ideas. I suppose that different people are interested in recording different kinds of information with activity trackers, for different purposes.

For me, probably the more interesting piece would be getting a good measure of power production across activities (work/time), so I could compare between them. Power production isn't exactly the same as "calories burned" but should be a good proxy for it. As it stands, most tools estimate power production while rowing (devices known as StrokeCoaches).

Of course, both of these things require specialized hardware that has to be installed on the exercise equipment.
Apr. 19th, 2016 08:51 pm (UTC)
It's a money sink, to be sure, but hey, it's an idea!
Apr. 19th, 2016 06:29 pm (UTC)
Is there a way to compare calories burned to kwh electricity used per month?
Apr. 21st, 2016 09:34 pm (UTC)
There could be, if one had a reasonable estimate of the total calories burned. From there, it would just be a matter of converting all of the energy rates of interest into the same units.

Are you thinking of the total amount of electricity used by a household, or some other bit of energy use (i.e. energy used by the fitness tracker)?

I've always appreciated fitness equipment that doesn't require an external power supply. It took them a while, but Concept2 now has monitors that recharge off of the energy from using the rowing machine. It's possible to convert that energy into useable electricity, but it's uncommon to do that. I've mostly seen that with bicycles. I was part of an art piece once that included a rowing machine hooked up to a set of lights that backlit photos:

( 11 remarks — Remark )

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