Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sporttracks.mobi and Tapiriik

 

I wanted to do a basic introduction to a few of the web apps but the post quickly grew too large. If people alert me of changes and issues I’ll look at updating this post. As always email me here.

I’m still working on editing my training plan. The reason for the change is I was too aggressive and I need to subscribe to the 10% volume / Intensity rule (don’t increase volume or intensity more than 10% form week to week). This means I’m going to get rid of my last build before my first race and make the transitional period longer. As such, I’m having to redo some of my work to date. This means that a lot of the apps need more time but I figured I can look at SportTracks.mobi

SportTracks.mobi

SportTracks.mobi is the online web tracking software from ZonefiveSoftware, the maker of the popular offline tracking software, SportTracks. This is one I missed on my first pass but I’ve spent some time with it. Initially I wasn’t used to the darker interface, but honestly it looks nice. It gives it a flat Windows 8 type feel which I generally like.

Lets start off with the device upload. I click the “Add workout” button, it drops down to “Device import” and connected seamlessly (after I allowed the Garmin Communicator Plugin).

image_thumb79

image_thumb74

That was seamless and nicely integrated. Once I get back to the dashboard I’m instantly given a lot of data (and disappointment in my own performance).  This is a view that I’m not 100% use to. Initially I felt it was “busy” but once you get use to it (which takes just navigating the site for a few minutes) you quickly realize it gives you a lot of information.

image_thumb89

One of the cool and surprising things here is that you can click on a lot of this data:

image_thumb179

I’m no Ray and I’ve been away from serious exercise for about 2 years while I focused on engineering. So forgive my weak performance. And that brings you into a more detailed view of the week you selected. This overview gives some nice basics in this weekly view but nothing ground breaking. I’m not sure the energy calculation in use here, but I found I couldn’t change it to calories. Living in a metric country means I should probably use kilojoules, but most people are more familiar with calories.

image_thumb94

I’ll get back to the Analysis tab shortly. Next lets check out the gear tab.

image_thumb99

That’s not what I expected? I expected it to now say “Garmin FR910xt” because I uploaded from it.  So this is obviously more a bike / shoe thing, so clicking add brings up this:

image_thumb104

(The fields weren’t populated and the terrible face / bike picture was manually added just to test)

I fill in the info, but annoyingly you couldn’t drag the image into it, you manually have to select the file to upload upload. This is the most minor of nuisance and is only a nuisance because I’m too use to Gmail and Google Apps. I did find one minor fault. The time zones.

image_thumb109

It would be nice if it was a basic listing of +/- GMT numbers. This just feels overtly complicated (like the use of the word overtly there). Most forum sites use the +/- GMT numbers and if they subscribe to daylight savings time. It’s a little clumsy but you only have to do it once so an easily forgivable sin.

Back to the most important tab, Analysis. I have to say that the analysis summary gives a nice overview of what’s going on. The big graph is nice, and the pie chart breakdown is interesting. I think it’s based on number of activities – this can skew it if you do short runs with longer rides, or the reverse. However, Since I’ve only uploaded data from my watch and not the 50 – 60 last rides on my Garmin Edge, it’s a little skewed and limited in terms of what I’m seeing.

image_thumb184

Clicking Running brings up a little more detail but not much, just removes all the cycling related stuff.

image_thumb189

You can use the arrows at the top right to

image_thumb201

This will give more Dashboard style data.

image_thumb193

Clicking the health tab brings me here but I haven’t manually input anything. I tend to dislike manual inputting workouts / data but as I don’t own a smart scale I can’t test if it’s compatible or if there are ways to get the data in.

image_thumb205

Lots of potentially interesting stuff, but I didn’t have data for any of it. However I did link it to my other sites with Tapiriik so that I could spend some more time.

image_thumb232

Now I get a lot more data in the Analysis area and it skews more towards cycling which is good.

image_thumb237

The downside is you’re not going to find things like Acute training load (ATL) or Chronic Training Load (CTL) or Training Stress Score (TSS) or Normalized power (NP) here (all of these are Trademarked for Training Peaks, so if you see them used it’ll mean they are licenced generally). However they have implemented TRIUMP (talked about here on the Sporttracks.mobi blog). This is an alternative that tracks your effort and is based mainly on heart rate and time in zones.

image

TRIMP or Training Impulse is a nice way of judging things, but it’s not something I’m familiar with having been using TSS / ATL / CTL the last time I was seriously training. It makes sense in a way, as it can normalize all your sports, but for me things brings into question how well it does that. I find a half an hour run much more strenuous on my body than an hour of cycling, yet an older cycling activity for me has an effort of 67 to a half and hour run of 24. This isn’t a limitation of Sporttracks.mobi, but TRIMP. There needs to be more work implementing TRIMP especially on the long term stuff. Right now I can only find it in an activity and nowhere else.

image

There is a customizable page in the Analysis tab. I’ve been finding it useful, but I can’t plot out TRIMP over time which is disappointing. Having just been loaned Jack Daniels (not that one, I’d recommend checking it out here) book on Running it was interesting to see a very nice point system that he implemented. I was hoping for something similar but I did not find anything. It could map speed and pace over time.

If you click on the analysis of a cycling ride with a powermeter there is some interesting stuff. They are adding new features, the newest being critical power and zone calculations. This feels like they are leading into the TSS/ATL/CTL/NP stuff but it isn’t implemented yet. I suspect we’ll see this feature set grow over the next year. You don’t get this estimation curve for other things, only for power.

image

image

image

The export as GPX and TCX is nice. You can’t have a web platform and refuse to let people get their data back so SportTracks.mobi earns top marks here. The social side of things isn’t as strong as I would have thought. The SportTracks offline desktop software was described to me as more for serious athletes (with some seriously cool plugins) and the .mobi is more social tracking. It has email and Facebook sharing and some nice and simple privacy controls. However, finding anyone I knew proved difficult. As much as I hate linking Facebook or Google to anything, I find in these cases that it’s a good solution to finding people if you’re after social interaction.

image

image

image

All in all it’s a good offering. It’s not what I’m looking for.

Pro’s

  • Nice interface and really nice visualization – customizable smoothing and more!
  • Low learning curve
  • No fighting to make it work or upload data
  • Tapiriik works with it and synced up very well

Con’s

  • Lacks TSS/ATL/CTL metrics for serious cyclists
  • Could not find any fatigue tracking over time to help you understand things like periodization in practice
  • Graphs need more customization options
  • No ability to create or use a training plan that I could find

Essentially it’s a good piece of software, but not for the serious athlete with a training plan.

Tapiriik

I wasn’t going to include Tapiriik in this, but my difficulties with Training Peaks (to be talked about later) had me itching to solve the upload problem via the Automatic Synchronization (popularized and crashing the site when DCrainmaker linked to it). And honestly, I donated the suggested $5.00 (Minimum of $2.00) so I could have Automatic Synchronization and not do it manually. I’m motivated to support Tapiriik because it’s cool. It’s been working great to get my old Garmin and Strava data into Sporttracks.mobi. I’d like to see other services added like MapMyRun/Ride and Endomondo and others. Though I think the limitations might be other peoples API’s and not Tapiriik.

image_thumb226

And now lets add TrainingPeaks.

image_thumb222

I’m going to pay for a month of Training Peaks upgraded version and see how it works. However in compiling my reviews so far, I’m less than impressed by Training Peaks online offering so far in terms of getting my data in their system. I’ll be posting it within a week hopefully.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Keith! Thanks for the wonderful and *detailed* review on SportTracks.mobi

    A couple notes.

    1. Training Plans are definitely supported. You can find info on adding planned workouts here:
    http://sporttracks.mobi/blog/planned-workouts-part-1-creating-training-plan

    There is a part #2 about monitoring as well, linked from the post.

    2. You should check out the interactive segment analysis feature if you haven't yet. It's something nobody else does. Combined with Critical Power plots, and the new Running Dynamics metrics that come out of the Garmin 620 there is some interesting insight to be gained:

    http://sporttracks.mobi/blog/interactive-segment-analysis

    3. TRIMP. This is a long discussion.

    Training Peaks trademarked TSS is a particular flavor of TRIMP, which is a broad set of models to predict body response to training, nothing more or less. Coggan once replied to a comment on TSS being TRIMP: "I imagine that they are fairly interchangable..."

    I can tell you that SportTracks.mobi will incorporate power meter data, heart-rate data, and pace/speed data into calculating our TSS (errr... TRIMP) which we call "Effort" (a much less geeky/acronym-free term that we think gets to the essence). The more sensor data you have, the better, but we "fall back" to simpler calculations if for example, you're not using a power meter.

    I imagine the Training Peaks calculations are very similar - it's based on well established models some of which are 30 years old. Of course, it's only now we have sensors. :)

    Training Load (corresponding to the Training Peaks trademarked acronyms CTL/ATL) will be coming soon to the Analysis page and probably Dashboard. That work will begin next week. Effort is the primary component of this (already done), and again - these are well established models, not a lot of rocket science, but we need to do the work to plug them in.

    You also mentioned Normalized Power - another trademarked term we're not allowed to use (do you sense a pattern here, LOL). However we do calculate this, but it seems some recent changes caused it to not be shown. It's a bug plain and simple, we need to fix.

    If you're a multi-sport athlete or triathlete, there are some essential features we have others miss - such as fully configurable zones for different sports, and complete support for indoor workouts and mixtures of different GPS/sensors. Even Garmin Connect misses this sometimes - try doing a trainer workout with a power meter and you'll see some things get wonky REAL QUICK on their charts. Our vision is - if you've got data, we'll take it.

    For triathletes if you've got a 910XT you'll enjoy the new detailed swim analysis feature we're releasing in the next few weeks. And we've got very ambitious plans for 2014.

    We love hearing from users and our roadmap is driven almost entirely by user requests. Let us know what you need, and if enough people want it, you'll see it pop out in a future version.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback. Lots of good things I've missed (sorry!). So seems I have a little more work ahead of me. I'll look at updating this as soon as I can explore the features mentioned

      Delete
  2. Great review. I currently have the SportTracks 3 PC app. Do you know how well it syncs with ST.mobi?

    ReplyDelete
  3. SportTracks 3 syncs flawlessly with ST.mobi (once you've managed it once, which is a matter of following the pretty clear instructions.)

    ReplyDelete