Coach Tip Tuesday: Technology Goes Down; Workouts Go On
Hey there!! It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!
Today, on the heels of what I am now calling The Great Garmin-pocalypse of 2019, I want to ask you all this one, itty-bitty question:
What would you do if all “smart” fitness technology went down for a week, and all you had were descriptions of the workouts on your training plan and a “dumb” (aka normal) watch at your disposal??
This weekend, Garmin Connect went down for approximately two days and wasn’t sending any data to third-party apps. Strava also went down for most of Sunday. Why do I know this?? Because SO MANY (yes, today I am talking to YOU!! ;) ) of the athletes who I work for expressed frustration over this to me.
Do you know what I told *each* and *every* one of them?? I told them this: that workouts still count even if Garmin doesn’t immediately upload data. And workouts still count even if other people cannot see them on Strava. And I also told them that workouts can be completed as written even if you are unable to sync a structured workout from Garmin Connect to your wearable fitness device.
Why did I tell them all that?? Because it is TRUE!! For as many years as I have been coaching, I have been encouraging athletes to accept that technology may fail on them when they need it most. And because that is is a possibility, I never advocate the sole use of technology as a metric or gauge of a workout. I coach all of my athletes using a combination of tools that come race day, fills their athletes’ toolbelts so that they are equipped for any and all scenarios that they may encounter, including a technology fail.
Last year, at IRONMAN Lake Placid, I saw one of the athletes who I work with on the run course. She was frustrated that her heart rate monitor wasn’t giving “accurate” readings and that she couldn’t get up out of Heart Rate Zone 1 (we later learned that the readings from her monitor were accurate, but that’s a different story for a different day). I told her to do as we trained; to run on RPE (her own perceived exertion) and that she was more than capable of doing that. And BOOM!! She went on to run 26.2 miles on RPE because we HAD trained her to do that. She executed an EXCELLENT IRONMAN marathon.
This might seem like an ironic or slightly hypocritical tip/post, as anyone who knows me knows that I do love technology. Over the years, I have personally invested thousands of dollars into Garmin devices alone. I encourage the athletes who I work for to make mindful and worthwhile investments into technology as well. That being said, I do not live and die by all of the fitness technology that surrounds me. It is SO helpful, but it is just that - helpful. It does not define who I am as an athlete, and it’s okay (and actually quite liberating!!) when I do complete workouts without every possible metric recorded.
Your time invested into your workouts does still count even if you don’t have it recorded. You are still getting the benefits of your workouts, even if things don’t go exactly as planned on the technology front. Your body is always keeping score, even if your Garmin or other technology forgets how. ;)
This week, I challenge you to take a look at a workout on your schedule, and to go ahead and complete it with nothing other than a piece of paper and a regular, non-smart, watch. And when you’re done, let me know if you feel like you didn’t complete a workout at all, or if you feel exactly the same as you do after a workout that is recorded by a smart fitness device. :) And the next time technology isn’t working as designed, take a breath, give yourself some grace, and embrace the opportunity to train in a scenario that very well might happen to you out of nowhere on race day. You can do it!! :D
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.