Imagine this…after a long day at work, you muster up the willpower, throw on your running garb, squeeze your feet into your bike shoes or yank on your swimsuit for a workout. Against every fiber of your being, you pull energy from seemingly nowhere and step outside, hop on the trainer, or jump in the water. You turn on your training device and wah wah wah, it stops working! You don’t receive heart rate, pace, cadence, power…whatever it is that you want or NEED to track.
We’ve become evermore reliant on technology to provide us with helpful data. Coaches prescribe, tailor and assess workouts based on a number of parameters such as cadence, pace, power, and heart rate. As athletes we rely on this information to meet goals during the workout, but the completed workout also becomes part of our log. We even tease each other, “if your device didn’t record it, it didn’t happen.”
So what to do when our training device fails? It inevitably does, whether it’s a connectivity problem, a battery problem or even worse a software programming issue! Should we take a hammer to the device and pulverize it? Oh, I’ve recently spent several trainer rides envisioning that option when my device kept failing. Thankfully, I didn’t follow through with my grand plans for a temporarily gratifying solution. Several chats with helpful and knowledgeable tech support and a software update later; it’s working and I’m back on track.
When technology fails, what can an athlete do besides exclaim obscenities? Use it as an excuse to bail altogether? My advice is to just press on. Not the “ON” button - maybe pressing OFF would be good actually. What I mean is, just keep going.
Don’t give up. Instead, go “old school.” In the not too distant past we trained with nothing more than a stop watch. In the pool, we used a poolside timer. For heart rate, we stopped and counted beats per second. We didn’t have power output on our road bikes, unless we were in a research lab.
Use what you have on hand like your phone’s stopwatch (another piece of tech that is hopefully charged and working), and your brain. Do the math to determine your splits. Take your pulse at your wrist: count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your beats per minute.
Most importantly, listen to your body. It will tell you what to do. How do you feel? What is your rate of perceived exertion (RPE)? Are you supposed to be pushing your threshold? If so, go for a “feels like” hard difficulty level. Be flexible, and know it’s not just ONE workout that makes or breaks your training. It’s consistency and effort that lead to success. So allow yourself a moment of frustration when things don’t work as planned, and then let it go, press on and go “old school.” Soon you will get your device working and will have that precious data back. Even though you may end up without any technological proof of your workout, you know you did it and so does your body, and that’s really all that matters.