In a recent article by the New York Times, the use of activity trackers for marathon training was discussed, with the author ultimately concluding it wasn’t for them. While some interesting points were brought up, such as the importance of focusing on how you’re feeling, recovering, and eating, instead of relying on a tracker are valid, there was much left out of the discussion that is worth considering.
First, data should provide evidence to back up decision making, and shouldn’t be used primarily to make training based decisions. However, using the data alongside other metrics such as diet and recovery may provide valuable feedback regarding how well each of those components are supporting your training. For example, if you alter your diet, and find after several weeks that the data regarding your speed is negatively trending, this may be a good indicator that the new diet isn’t supporting your performance goals. Likewise, comparing recovery strategies to similar performance and physiological metrics such as heart rate variability, sleep, etc, may also help you to better assess if the strategies you are using are working well.
Finally, unless you are someone who prefers using technology, there are a number of training load, injury, and recovery metrics which can be quantified without a movement tracking device such as session-rate of perceived exertion and self-reporting wellness/recovery and injury questionnaires.
As with any technology, do a bit of research prior to purchase to make sure that the company and device you select actually provides valid, reliable and relevant metrics in line with your needs.
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Kaitlyn Weiss, TDAE's Sport Science and Research Coordinator is at the cutting edge of using sport science to drive performance gains.
She graduated from the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sport Science and Biomechanics in 2017. Graduated with Honors from Ball State University with a Master of Science in Exercise Science with a focus in Biomechanics in 2013. Graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2009. Current member of NSCA, SPRINZ, SKIPP, ISBS, and ISB. Holds the following certifications: NSCA CSCS, NASM PES, USAW Level 1, FMS, Precision Nutrition Level 1, and Balanced Body University Pilates Instructor.
Follow her on Instagram @kaitweissphd