I had the pleasure of presenting at Melbourne’s Quantified Self show and tell last Thursday. Initially, I wanted to present on the work I did with the City Council of Ballarat and how healthy behaviours are spread through networks using new technology platforms like Fitbit.com or Facebook and Twitter. But the whole idea behind Quantified Self is to report on how we use technology to measure and track OURSELVES.
The idea of presenting on how I tracked myself was a bit uncomfortable at first. Self tracking and measuring is an extremely personal act and opening myself up to an analysis of how I measure myself seemed, well, terrifying. Once I created a spreadsheet, started plopping in numbers and removing emotional triggers (ie comparing my stats to others) though, the process actually became super fun. Here’s what I’ve got so far in my self tracking – I would love to hear what others think about how I’m tracking and important aspects of my training I am forgetting.
(For anyone struggling with how to embed a Prezi into WordPress, look here: http://wordprezi.appspot.com)
Inside every graphic is a story. Here’s mine.
As the Marketing Manager for the Personal Training Academy (and RTO that certifies personal trainers), I am surrounded by trainers, health experts and some of the best information on how to maximise performance. A promise I had made myself in grad school at the University of San Francisco was to take care of my health once I graduated — and this was the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of health, wellness and relaxation. I stress relaxation because like many post-grad students, I picked up the unhealthy habit of not sleeping. I find a sense of calm from accomplishment which means long hours at my desk and only rarely ever reaching that perfect zen of a finished project. The problem being that there are no truly finished projects — especially if you don’t sleep or effectively recover from stress. For more on how sleep improves performance in EVERY WAY IMAGINABLE, check out: Effective Recovery and Executive Performance.
In my first months out of school and living in sunny Melbourne, I had focused entirely on nutrition and doing whatever workout were prescribed to me by my 6am trainers at Acumotum in order to run the Spartan Sprint. The results of which can be found in Glory. Running a Spartan was a blast and started planning my next obstacle race almost immediately. I also wanted to do something I had never done or even considered before: run a full marathon.
In the past, even when I did find the time to work out I had been limited in my athleticism due to an old car accident injury in my lower back and hips. I had trained for half marathons before and been left unable to walk without excruciating pain and a noticeable limp for weeks. But then I sloooowed my pace way the fuck down and realised that running didn’t have to be fast and painful. I ran my first 1/2 marathon in September and loved it. Then I started running the length of a half marathon on a semi-regular basis. It was time to up the ante.
Unfortunately or maybe fortunately? The Spartan Super race is exactly ONE WEEK before the Melbourne Marathon. When I realised this, I looked at the calendar…then at my unsuspecting thighs…and then at the calendar again. If I doubled down, educated myself, looked out for the warning signs of a serious injury and perfected my recovery strategy this just might work. What good is working with a team of personal trainers if you can’t set ridiculous physical challenges for yourself, right?
Mapping my training started with a full physical analysis at Acumotum where I had my BioAge and Effective Movement screenings. My BioAge was pretty good although there were plenty of areas in my health to improve: waist circumference, VO2 max, push ups and stress levels. Most people are shocked when they see that I have listed myself as smoking 1 cigarette a day. I actually hate cigarettes, but it was the lowest amount that I could choose and I wanted to have something in my score that reflected the greens I smoke occasionally. Ideally, I’d prefer not to smoke at all and ingest my greens through cookies or butter in my coffee, but being new to a city in a foreign country has it’s limitations. My Effective Movement screenings showed that rotated my right hip when running and the trainers worked with me on how to improve it. I also had a strength assessment which, in a nutshell showed that I had considerable leg stregth but next to no upper body or core strength. Improve this, and I could be a Spartan-Marathon athlete with an improved stride and less back pain.
Following a perfect diet and 6am training regimen took an enormous amount of focus and energy when I was training for the month before my first Spartan, and I knew that while I may be able to eat a perfect Paleo diet for a month, there was no way I could maintain it for 6+ months. For that reason, I decided to pay attention to my diet, but not to track it.
Instead, the smaller goals I would set to support my training and stats I chose to track are as follows:
- Sleeping 6 hours a night, 4 nights a week. This also means making I’m in bed for at least 8 hours a night and taking a nap the next day if I sleep less than 4 hours. Tracking Device: Fitbit One.
- Focus on speed running (intervals or just going as fast as I can) one day a week. Tracking Device: Strava app.
- Distance running one day a week. Tracking Device: Strava app.
- Strength training twice a week (arms and core one day, legs and core another). Tracking with my spreadsheet.
- Cross training (focusing on functional movement) once a week: most often a high-intensity class at Acumotum.
- Recovery work outs twice a week: most often Yoga or a low intensity class at Acumotum.
- Walking at least 15,000 steps on work out days and 10,000 steps on recovery days (I made this goal after realising that I could be extremely lazy for the rest of the day after running in the morning — having a daily step goal keeps me active throughout the day). Tracking Device: Fitbit One.
Being true to my previous research in tracking how healthy behaviours spread through social networks, I also decided to track how often I worked out with other people vs. being along, and how I shared aspects of my training on social media sites. I look forward to mapping all of the social interactions I’ve had throughout my training in a social map similar to the one I made for the City of Ballarat.
A screenshot of my the spreadsheet I’m keeping my data on can be seen in the prezi. Although I mark certain days as “Isolation/strength training” or “Recovery” days, I still usually walk and jog up to 5KM in my commute to and from work.
So far, I’m 6 weeks into my training program and feel a lot stronger. It’s obvious that the time I spend in bed is no where near the amount of time I am actually sleeping each night. For my daily steps goals, I’m almost never meeting what I set out to achieve exactly although my average daily steps is at about 13,000 where my average daily steps goal (averaging my recover days of 10,000 step with my work out days of 15,000 steps) isn’t too far of from that.
I intend to take my BioAge assessment at some point in the middle of my training program — possibly in June or July, and then right before I run the Spartan and Marathon. I’m not sure what to expect in a final outcome. I guess I’ll be more muscular. I’ll definitely be able to run longer distances. But I’m not convinced I’ll ever be able to improve my sleep habits.
We’ll have to wait and see…