I heard rumors. Small buzz talks of pain, sweat, excitement, tears, adrenaline, and the challenge of a lifetime. These were talks of the Spartan Race; a 13K intensive obstacle course that has become a colossal event in the United States. I had learned that the event was coming to my area and began hearing the voice in my head saying "It's time". It was time for me to get off the couch and test my limits.
October 12, 2014 will be a date I remember for quite some time. This past weekend I had the opportunity to partake in one of the world renowned Spartan Races in Circuit Paul Ricard, France. As it happened to be the same weekend as my birthday, I recruited some good friends of mine to do it with me, thinking it would be a fun way to spend the weekend. I signed up for the obstacle race 6 months ago and at the same time decided to start self-tracking my movements. I wanted to see my incremental improvements (if any) as I approached the race. I also wanted to measure my productivity while physically training, trying to create a good balance across exercise, sleep, and my work and social life. Now that I have made a full week's recover of stiff muscles, aches and pains in places I didn't think were possible, I have now had the chance to review my results and the progress I made throughout my training, analyzing the fluctuations of my daily activities up until the day of the big race.
And so training began. I used a number of trackers to gauge different vantage points of my progress, knowing that different applications focus on different features. After conducting some basic research, I decided to use Fitbit Flex to track my steps, caloric intake and sleep patterns, Runtastic to monitor my actual training sessions, and
OmniContext Personal Analytics to see the effect my physical training would have on my work and social life.
Fitbit Flex Findings:
Summing up my results of a six month venture of intense physical training, I begin my 3-part blog series by analyzing my first results of my FitBit Flex self-tracking:
Through my FitBit tracking I was able to monitor my weight loss, going from 198lbs to 180lbs. My calorie intake when I started was around 3000kcal, however I was able to see that most of this would be considered junk food. At the end of my training my calorie intake dropped to around 2300—2500 kcals, however I had substituted much of my junk food with healthy sustainance items. I set a weekly goal of 70,000 steps. Fitbit provided me with a graph showing that my activity level increased dramatically from a "sedentary" lifestyle to "very active" with 4-5 training sessions per week. These daily, weekly, and monthly updates served as a great motivational tool to not give up, no matter how bad at times I felt like falling flat on my face and collapsing.
Within these statistical feedbacks, I found myself setting small goals and encouraging myself to do better. For example, I noticed that I was often taking stairs instead of elevators just for the sake of reaching the 70,000 step weekly goal. I received a variety of badges as I achieved different platforms of accomplishments, inspiring me to persist. I feel that these push notifications are a major asset for self-trackers such as myself.
My sleeping patterns in the beginning were very irregular. I had difficulty sleeping, tossing and turning throughout the night. Countless nights of waking up at 3am and unable to fall back asleep…..insomnia was a demon that I was constantly battling. I saw that I was spending about 9 hours in bed, but only getting approximately 5 hours of sleep per night. Although it may seem like an obvious effect, once I began training I noticed a drastic change in my sleeping patterns. With regular exercise sessions of 4-5 times per week, my time spent in bed remained the same, however I increased my actual sleep time to relatively 7.5 hours per night.
The Fitbit Flex turned out to be a useful tool in tracking my weight loss, calorie count, sleep patterns and trends, and encouraged me to continue in my efforts through daily push notifications. For self-tracking purposes, it was very interesting looking back and trying to identify the variety of factors that had an effect on my overall progression throughout my training.
To follow my results and learn how self-tracking improved my productivity, be sure to follow parts 2 and 3 of my Spartan Analysis in the upcoming week.Or Follow Me on Twitter @OmniContextPA for the lates updates.