Training Log Online Options

| May 12, 2010 9:00 am
Training Log Online Options

by Franz Kelsch with contributions by Steve Saeedi – last updated: May 12, 2010

Years ago, as runners and cyclists, we would sometimes keep a training log in a notebook, or maybe one of those free booklets that Runner’s World magazine gave free if you renewed. I started to keep my workouts in an Excel spreadsheet, which I keep up through today. Computer based programs were released and as manufactures starting to sell devices which provided for data upload, they usually included some program to work with their device.

There has been a recent explosion in the number of websites that allow you to track your workouts online. With the growing popularity of GPS enabled devices for cycling and running, most of these sites allow you to upload your workout directly from the device, making the process much simpler. Why would someone use a web based approach to a training log? There are a several of key advantages to using a web based program. First it is device independent. To this day, Polar still has not released a Mac version of their training program. Some programs have been released only on a Mac. None of these work on mobile devices, such as smart phones. All these limitations are solved by using a web based approach.

There is the additional advantage with the movement to social networks. If I put my workout in my own log, it is not visible to anyone else. With the web based options discussed here, you can share those with your friends who are using the same web based application, over social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and embed code inside your own blogs and websites. The social aspect is enhanced with many of these sites offering a Leader board so you can compare your training with your friends or even all users of that site.

Just a couple of years ago web applications were very limited. That has changed significantly and some of the best web based applications, such as Strava, using Ajax features to give you the feel you are using a local based program. In addition, most all of the web applications are free to use, funded by advertising. So is there any downside to using a web based application? The answer is yes and it is common to the movement to the cloud for both data and applications. Your data is stored somewhere else. It is often impossible to export it out. If the site shuts down then you have lost all your data. So you may wish to keep a local copy of the data using the program that came with your device. My Excel spreadsheet has lasted for well over 10 years, as technology has come and gone.

We are looking at the following web based applications. This is not an all inclusive list, but does include many of the popular sites that allow tracking of workouts.

  • Garmin Connect – A free only site geared to those using Garmin GPS devices but does allow manual input .  Also allows for GPX update of Garmin and non-Garmin workouts. Also provides elevation correction for devices that don’t have elevation or barometric altimeters. Can export activities in any number of formats.
  • Strava – A subscription only site that allows GPS upload and manual that automatically shows how you are doing compared with other users climbing the same hills.  For devices that don’t have power meters, Strava will calculate and chart wattage for devices that have barometric altimeters. Cannot export activities.  They recently released an iPhone application.
  • Plus 3 Network – A free site that allows both GPS upload and manual input.  It has a unique aspect that let’s you earn money for your selected cause, based on your miles.  Each of the optional causes has a sponsor who pays the money.  You earn money based on your miles and/or time depending on type of workout. Cannot export activities.  They have an iPhone application.
  • Daily Mile – A free site that is more geared to runners. Allows both GPS upload and manual input.  A Facebook type social network approach to sharing your workouts.  Cannot export activities.
  • Training Peaks – A free site, with premium option, that allows GPS upload and manual input.  Some very detailed analysis tools.  You can print workouts but not export the data.
  • Ride With GPS – A free only site (provision for donations).  Excellent mapping tools.  Allows upload of GPS files for plotting courses and downloaded of courses to GPS devices.  For devices that don’t have power meters, the site will calculate and chart wattage for devices that have barometric altimeters. You can export individual workouts in a number of formats.
  • Map My Ride and Map My Run – Free sites, with various premium options.  Geared toward those who wish to map out their running and cycling courses that can be downloaded to GPS devices.   They do support upload of workout information but do not support uploading from a Garmin Edge 500.   Heavy advertising on free sites is intentionally annoying to encourage you to pay for on of the premium options.  They provide iPhone applications (both free and paid) that allow you to use the iPhone’s GPS to track your route and upload it.

Below is a summary table followed by a detailed review for each site with many screen shots included.

Web Based Training Logs

Website Site Garmin GPS Suport Polar HRM Support Allows Export Price Social Network Estimates Power Tracks Gear Map Drawing Exports to Device iPhone Android Support
Garmin Connect Yes No Yes Free Good No No No Yes No
Strava Yes No No Paid Good Yes Yes No No Partial
Plus 3 Network Yes No No Free Poor No No No No Yes
Daily Mile Limited No No Free Excellent No Yes No No No
Training Peaks Yes Yes No Free/Paid Good No Yes No No No
Ride with GPS Yes No Yes Free Good Yes No Yes Yes No
MapMyRide Limited No Yes Free/Paid Good No Yes Yes Yes Yes

Garmin Connect

If you connect a Garmin device to your computer (either Mac or PC), and click Upload, the workouts are automatically sent to Garmain Connect.  The map of the course and workout details are shown.  You can view the data by splits and also on some of the included graphs.

There is a player option that shows your workout parameters as the pointer moves along the course.  You can easily share your workout on Facebook and get some code to embed the workout in a website or blog.

You can search for other posted routes in your area and download the route to your Garmin device.  There is a nice calendar view that makes it easy to find a particular workout.  It shows the total miles per week, but it adds cycling and running miles together.  There is not tracking of miles on a year to date basis.

The data closely matches the input from the Garmin device, including your split times, calorie estimate and distances.

Strava

This is the only site being reviewed that has no free option, which will make it not an option for many users.  It accommodates other types of workouts but is best suited for cycling.  At this point, it is the only site, other than Garmin Connect,  that will upload Garmin Edge 500 files by simply clicking Upload.  Other sites require browsing to the FIT file or do not support the Garmin Edge 500, one of the newer Garmin devices.

If you drag the pointer along the elevation profile at the bottom, it will show you location on the map and some of your key data at that point in the workout below the map.   This site has a Leaderboard that ranks all users on a week to date based on such things as miles and climbing.  One of the unique features is it will use the uploaded GPS data to see that you climbed a particular hill and show how you compare with others who did the same climb, and provide for an automatic KOM listing.  Below shows the ranking in Strava for the Metcalf climb (in California).

There is also a map for the hill climb and if you run the pointer along the profile, it shows where you are at that point in time compared with the KOM leader.

It is easy to share your workout with Facebook. The site will estimate your power output along the course, unique amongst all the sites reviewed.  You can get graphs for the whole ride or for a particular split.

There is a unique calendar view, with a graph of  miles for each day, with a link to the workouts that day, making it easy to find a particular workout.  It shows your total miles, but adds running and cycling miles together.

You can track which bike you are riding, but beyond that there is no way to track equipment usage.  Strava users can join clubs and see how they are doing with other club members.  You can also have selected Friends.

A unique aspect of Strava is it’s estimate of average power output for the entire ride, or one segment, such as a climb.  Another nice feature is to find local routes, climbs and other athletes.  This could be of great value to someone cycling in an area they are not familiar with.

Plus 3 Network

This site is unique in that it now only allows you to upload your workout, but has a sponsor/cause system so you earn money for your selected clause, paid by the sponsor.

As you do any activity (run, cycle, walk, even volunteer time), you get earn “Kudos”, and therefore more money for your cause.  If you upload a GPS file instead of manually inputting your workout you get more Kudos per mile.  The site does have some graphs for your workout, but only for the entire workout and not by split.  It offers a calendar view of your workouts, but there is not a good way for you to see such things as your accumulated miles over the year or month.  It adds all miles together, regardless of the type of sport.

The site supports some social network features.  You can request another user to be your “friend”.  The site provides a leader board that starts each month and shows how many “Kudos” each person has earned.  You can compare yourself against your friends or everyone on the site.

The social network features are limited and it is not easy to post your network to Facebook.

Daily Mile

When you enter the site you feel you might have entered into Facebook by mistake.  The site is heavily oriented toward social networking.  Many people (including myself) post a lot of work out information on Facebook, but having a site dedicated to those who really might be interested could be useful.

The site offers good tools for showing your miles per week, month and for the year.  They have a calendar view to find your workouts.

There is a leaderboard where you can compare yourself with just your friends, or all users of the site.

The site provides for GPS upload but does not currently support the Garmin Edge 500, so I have been unable to test the mapping features.  You an attach gear, such as running shoes, or a particular bicycle to each workout and then track the mileage on that particular piece of gear.  There is no way to export your workouts.

Training Peaks

Training Peaks probably offers the most features of any of the sites, so many that you can get lost in the site.   It allows you upload GPS data (including browsing to Garmin Edge 500 FIT files) and manul input.   It also allows uploading of Polar HRM files, one of the few websites that supports this.  There are three main views of your workouts, Calendar, Spreadsheet and Dashboard.

The dashboard allows you to add “pods” and track nutrition.  The site allows you to view your data over many different data ranges, such as last 28 days, last 14 days, this week last year, last two years and many more.  For those who are interested in how their training is racking up, this is an excellent site.  It is also the only site that makes it easy to see how  much of your effort is between different sports, while most sites just add all miles together.

There is a very detailed map and graph view.  The graph is very detailed, almost too much so.

You can easily share your workout with others, such as Facebook.  It will even create a shortened URL to use.   You can attach gear, such as running shoes and bicycles to workouts and then track the mileage on that gear.  There is no way to export your data, other than to print it.  I did not evaluate the Premium options because the costs for premium seems to high for post users.

Ride with GPS

This is a free site with excellent mapping tools but none of the annoying advertising like Map My Ride/Map My Run.  It does ask for donations.  You can view your workouts in table or calendar view.

You can upload data directly from a GPS device, or use their excellent mapping tools to draw the course.  If you draw a course, it will create the turn by turn route sheet, although it has errors at times.  Unlike MayMyRide, everyone an print the route sheet.  It has good provisions for embedding the map in a website or blog.  It is also easy to share your workout on Facebook.  Although you can manually input a workout, it wants to know the route, so this site is not recommended for those who do not have a GPS and don’t want to draw out every route they use.  This is understandable because the site is more oriented to mapping than to tracking workouts.

For your workouts you can view the map, workout data, and some graphs.

It will show your activity totals by week, but combines miles from various sports.  There is no feature to see your miles over the course of a year.

MapMyRide and MapMyRun

This site allows you to draw a map of your course, or upload a Garmin GPS file or Polar HRM file.  It does not currently seem to support the Garmin Edge 500 so I had to export to a TCX file to upload.

The main screen has four sections, nestled in excessive advertising.

This screen capture shows how cluttered the screen can be.  The map of your workout is small compared with the excessive advertising.

If you click on the map from an uploaded GPS file, or one you draw, you get a good map view and a nice profile view at the bottom that shows you the percent grade along the route.

The MapMy series as several iPhone applications that allow you to use the GPS in the phone to track your ride/run/walk and upload via the 3G network to the MapMyRide website.  You can export routes, including the ones you draw, to various formats.  MayMyRide has strong mapping tools and allows you to draw maps even on bike trails, something most mapping websites do not support.  A new Leaderboard is being added.  There is strong support for sharing your information via social networks or embedding some code in a website or blog.

There are three paid options, $30, $60 and $99 a year.  Of all the sites, MapMyRide seems to be the most commercialized, which has some advantages in terms of features, but with the downside of the constant nagging to get you to pay something.

5 Responses to “Training Log Online Options”

Online training logs « amanda russell sent a pingback on May 30, 2010

[…] Online training logs Posted in advanced athletes,beginner athletes,coaching/training notes,cycling,running,swimming,technology,triathlon by AJ on May 30, 2010 People have been asking about ways to log training.  So I was going to do a write up on all the options out there, but just came across this: http://www.blog.ultracycle.net/2010/05/training-log-online […]

[…] years I have kept a detailed log of all my training.  Even after writing an article about online training logs, I still keep up my Excel spreadsheet.  Today I upload my GPS data a couple of websites (Strava […]

Indoor Cycle Training Guy wrote a comment on December 5, 2011

It seems that Strava has really hit a home run with the features associated with identifying ride segments, and tracking and comparing individual performance on those segments.

The cycling club I ride with has always been into some serious hill climbing but the virtual competition aspect is driving many of them to chase after our local Strava King of the Mountain awards. This feature is definitely inspiring a lot of additional training and effort.

[…] Even after writing an article about online training logs, I still keep up my Excel spreadsheet. For over a year I upload my GPS data to a couple of websites […]

Peter wrote a comment on October 23, 2012

When I first purchased my Forerunner 410 in November 2010, I thohugt it was the best thing ever. For the first three to four months, I was thrilled with it. Unfortunately, as my marathon training progressed I started to notice the watch doing some odd things. At first it would occasionally reboot for no apparent reason. Over the following weeks, the problem got worse and worse. As it did, the battery life also started becoming unstable. Sometimes the 410 would work OK, but the best case battery life dropped to 4-5 hours instead of the 8 I got out of it during those first months. In the worst cases, I would take the watch off the charger in the morning, shut it down until my run, and had a dead battery before I had gone one mile. The display that shows the battery life remaining is pretty much worthless now. And, it still suffers from reboots for no obvious reason often at inopportune times, like during my marathon. If you only do short to medium runs length runs, or are very fast, then the fact that the battery life seems to have problems might be acceptable for your situation. If you’re planning on doing runs of several hours, won’t be able to recharge it before every run, or won’t find reboots during runs/races acceptable, then you might want to look for something other than the 410. When it works right, it really is a great tool for training. But, if you need a device you can count on, you might want to wait and see how the reviews look on the new Forerunner 610 or consider going with one of the older, cheaper, and more proven devices like the 305. If you’re still on the fence about purchasing a Forerunner 410 (or 405/405cx for that matter), I’d suggest you visit the Garmin forums (forums .garmin .com) and take a look at the posts by various owners who are having similar hardware/software related problems so you can make an informed decision. Edited 5/1/11 At this point my Forerunner 410 has become totally unreliable. I had taken it to Nashville to use during the Country Music Marathon yesterday. It had been fully charged and shutdown before I left. When I turned it on an hour or so before the race, it immediately said low battery and shut itself down. I charged it again when I got home. This morning it read 100% charged and I shut it down. This afternoon when I tried it use it, it again said low battery and shut itself down. I’ve again contacted Garmin about the problem. Maybe they’ll replace it this time instead of just suggesting things like firmware updates and charge/discharge cycling.