Technology is always moving on, and as young athletes come into the sport they arrive with new ideas and some preconceived norms. With the growth of the internet and social media it is easy for athlete to search around and find the newest bit of technology to help them. This also bring its challenges, as it is tough to filter through the marketing to find the tech that really helps.
Understanding how the data is used is the difference between these sources of data that are entertaining and which ones are useful.
I am not going to make a judgement about the quality of the data these devices generate.
One thing that has become clear to us over the last few months is that unless the devices sync their data into the cloud, then rowers just don’t use it. People have got used to apps, they expect to do very little and get a lot in return. The expectation is to sync it with my device, then with the swipe of a screen be able to see their data. Once they see that data they believe it is true.
Interestingly Garmin and Strava don’t agree (cycling weekly article).
The most basic source of data athletes use is their ergo data. A majority will take a picture of the score or maybe record it in a training diary.
More and more will use ergo apps such as ErgData, Float and Live Rowing. These are good for collecting the data and interacting with the data on a session by session basis. But what can they do with the data over a longer term?
Do they know how their rate of improvement correlates to the training they are doing?
Another source of data is heart rate. Heart rate monitors have been around for quite a while. There are many devices out there. (A word of caution: The watches that collect HR data from the wrist using light by large are not reliable, CNET Article.)
The advice is to use HR chest straps. You then get to choose between Bluetooth (BLE or smart Bluetooth) or ANT+. Both work well when connecting your chest strap to your device. BLE ones are more versatile as they can work with smartphones which all have Bluetooth now. ANT is better in a group environment as you can connect it to your own watch and also connect it to other devices. So the coach can see the HR live and the athlete can also store the HR on his or her device.
More serious athletes also collect GPS data. This gives them an overview of the mileage they have covered as well as the speeds they have trained at. The main limitation on GPS is its use on rivers with a decent flow.
GPS measures position and speed relative to land. So if you are rowing out with a flowing tide then the GPS will show you going far and fast. If you understand that then it can still be of use as you can see what changes in boat speed occur live in the boat.
Using GPS is very useful when rowing on a lake or slow river. You can begin to get a picture of your training. Training to speed is an ideal scenario for rowing. After all athletes will train to a specific split on the ergo, we should aim to do the same in the boat.
Until now that has been a matter of a coach or physiologist taking a small blood sample from the athletes earlobe. But now the technology seems to be moving on with a few devices providing equivalent metrics from non-invasive wearable devices.
Knowing what training an athlete needs to do along with where to do it and with whom is crucial. Clubs, athletes and coaches used to rely on the phone. Then email and texting became popular, now many use social media platforms such and WhatsApp, Facebook and Rowe.rs. The idea of moving from email to specific closed communication groups where all the communication is all in one place seems to be the trend. They are easy to use, plus they add the ability to share images, video and documents easily. Plus with everybody living on their smartphones it is the best place to have it all.
How Rowe.rs helps
When building rowe.rs our aim was to build a system to make the use of these of these ever growing number of devices more beneficial. More and more data is being collected, and managing that data will become a problem, especially as the athletes own these devices and the data. Meaning that the coach potentially has no access to the data.
We have built the system to make the sharing and visualizing of the training data painless and engaging.
The coach and athletes have access to the data online 24/7. Via our platform the data can be shared for all to see and help make judgments on how effective the training is being.
Below is an image of a results sheet where 8 athletes have imported their heart rate and GPS data and the coaches can see it.
Please do get in touch if you are interested.