Monday, March 28, 2011

It's All About The Workflow

Whenever I start something new that requires some level of effort or focus, I have to figure out a "workflow" to effectively insert it into my routine.  If I don't, then I'm bound to fail. Anything that will aid in making that workflow happen is welcomed.

Naturally, the biggest workflow in the last few years was shifting to working out at the Y every morning.  This was huge.  It was like preparing an overnight hotel stay, 5 times a week.  I was going to be showering and getting ready for work at the YMCA.  In preparation for this task, I wrote down everything I would need to do for the transition.  My workflow:
  1. 6 items in the gym bag for work: work shoes, work socks, underoos, belt, undershirt, towel.
  2. Place slacks and workshirt on a hanger.  
  3. Put gym bag and work clothes in the hallway (or even in the truck).  The point being is to get it out of the bedroom.
  4. Lay out work-out specific gym clothes next to master bath.  This may be jammers (swimming) or shorts & tech shirt.
 This was the initial workflow.  The main point of this was to make it easier to go to the gym than to change my mind and sleep in.  I've learned that I also need to move the alarm clock far enough away that I have to physically get out of bed to hit the snooze turn it off.

In order to make this more efficient, I would do this all when I got home from work.  It was faster to pack the bag at the same time I unpacked it from the day's workout.  No rushing right before I go to bed (another excuse to avoid: didn't have time to pack!)

Part of the initial planning was to effectively utilize my gym time.  While my work doesn't requiring punching a time card, I prefer to get to work around 7:00am.  To maximize my gym time, which opens at 5:30am, I do as much as I can before I go to the gym, such as shaving.  My goal is to get to the gym as they unlock the doors.  This allows me to get an hour long session in and then off to work before my boss on time.

Other items that have been added to the workflow:
  • Pack my gym bag and set out tomorrow's clothes while I'm unpacking the gym bag.  This alleviates another often used excuse:  I ran out of time to pack my gym bag because it's bedtime!
  • Pack tomorrow's lunch after I've packed the gym bag
  • Prep my breakfast before bedtime (which used to be a fruit protein smoothie)
The Latest Workflow Challenge: Dailymile
When my only discipline was running, I could easily keep track of my workouts using Garmin Connect; however, since I've added swimming and I don't dare take my FR405cx in the pool with me, I have needed a new place to keep track of my workouts.  I reviewed many different sites and they need to meet a set of requirements:
  • Low Cost:  The freer the better
  • iPod touch app, iPad specific app, Android app, and clean interface.
  • Can track all three disciplines and weights.
  • Food log/calorie counter
  • I can access the web site from work (they block a lot of sites)
Working through many sites (The Daily Burn, Livestrong, MyFitnessPal) I ultimately decided my fitness life would be stored on SparkPeople.  What!  This isn't Dailymile!  Please keep with me!  After a few weeks, I realized I didn't need the Food Log/Calorie counter.  I may go back to it eventually.  While I like tracking the workouts, I have gotten tired entering them in.  I've grown to dislike the interface.  Waaaay too much on each page and it bogs down the page.  After a few months I have ultimately dumped it for everything except weights.  I keep track of my weights so I know what I'm lifting each week.  Apparently I'm above pen and paper.

So after a few discussions on Twitter, I landed on dailymile (Thanks TriBeccaTO!).  I have actually been on this before but never registered an account.  Dailymile is free.  I haven't checked for an iOS app but there is a third-party app on Android that performs the bare minimum.  It has a beautiful web interface and a great mobile site.  No food journal, but I've dumped that requirement.  What I like about it is the integration with Garmin.  It will import all my workouts.  I'm assuming if I had a FR310XT it would import swim sessions (but I don't think that works will in a pool).

So back to workflow.  It's easy to enter information once I've downloaded my Garmin data.  As soon as I get home from the day or get to work, I can quickly enter my workouts (generally less than 30 seconds, depending on how much commentary I add).

What's Next
With dailymile, I have definitely been able to track my workouts.  It's fun seeing how many miles/calories/minutes/hours I put in. However, my next step in statistical devouring is diving into the data and pulling out trends and things to improve upon.  I want to learn more about "zones" and "watts" and dailymile just doesn't seem to dig into that.

I've been debating about trying SportTrack but I'm an Mac fan, so I'd have to run this through Parallels (Windows emulator).  This isn't a big problem because it is always running on my Mac.  There are Mac options, so I'll revisit those.  Another option is the free version of TrainingPeaks.

Side Note
I have obviously not figured out my workflow with the blog.  For instance, I've been working on this blog post for a week now.  :)


  1. I do many of the same things you do for my morning workouts. Or just to get ready for the next day and it takes a lot of time!

    I use dailymile and sometimes I just don't like it. I have found that it is super slow and quirky. I will try to do one thing and have to wait forever for the page to load. Hate it! But I am not a patient person! But I still keep using it. I also use a spreadsheet and the training log my coach has me use. Someday I will go to one but right now I am "testing" them all.

    Good luck with your decision!

  2. I don't think we can work together anymore...our competing levels of OCD are disturbing!

  3. Back when I actually trained, I used BeginnerTriathlete. It does a really good job of tracking everything and allows you to "friend" other members so that you can track each other's progress. You can even post encouraging remarks on a specific workout. They call it motivating. I call it heckling.

    Kyle tried training peaks for a bit. It allows for much more detailed info input. I don't need all of the statistics so it just annoyed me.

  4. Oh, BT also allows you to upload from the Garmin or other devices, but I have always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment while manually entering a good workout. It is part of the reward.