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ARTICLE: Why some amateur athletes are giving up on smartwatches

Old 01-01-24, 11:24 PM
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ARTICLE: Why some amateur athletes are giving up on smartwatches

This article focuses on running, but I wonder if similar trends are happening in cycling?

https://theconversation.com/why-some...watches-216979

I was an early adopter of HRMs and Strava. I never got a power meter, But I started riding with just an Avocet so I think I learned how to listen to my body early.

I use monitoring tech less these days because I am no longer training for anything, just riding for enjoyment.
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Old 01-01-24, 11:54 PM
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I don't disagree with anything in the article. My smartwatch is a time piece and is only useful for keeping track of my resting heart rate to inform my cycling.

My Garmin cycling computer is only useful to keep an eye on current wattage/cadence to keep my mental assessment and physical performance corolated. It is also useful for mileage/timing estimates of the current ride for planning purposes. (2 hours to sundown, for example, has implications on how much time/miles left there are to ride and when/where to turn back.) Also, the Garmin functions as an odometer for my various bikes when uploaded to Strava/Connect/wherever. My best rides are generally with the screen off in power save mode.

For actual structured training there is Zwift. The numbers are the whole point of even doing it at all.

The people I ride with are a little puzzled about why I keep my activities as private on Strava. The answer is simple: Social happens in real life. The numbers just aren't relevant in a social context.

Like any tool, it is important to understand it's uses and use it properly. Being ruled by data is improper use of the tool.

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Old 01-02-24, 07:16 AM
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A couple of years ago I decided to stop tracking my HR, distance and speed, I don't miss those things at all... Nowadays I just ride for time, 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours etc.
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Old 01-02-24, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
A couple of years ago I decided to stop tracking my HR, distance and speed, I don't miss those things at all... Nowadays I just ride for time, 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours etc.
What training schedule have you developed around your time-based training plan? Do you use perceived effort in place of heart rate?
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Old 01-02-24, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
What training schedule have you developed around your time-based training plan? Do you use perceived effort in place of heart rate?
I don't train for anything. I just ride for health and fitness, and fun. Most rides are in Zone 2 but I also regularly climb hills and ride singletrack which provides more intensity. It's pretty easy to maintain Zone 2 just by feel without measuring anything. I don't feel a need to measure anything or keep any data.
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Old 01-02-24, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
I don't train for anything. I just ride for health and fitness, and fun.
Yet you decided to add a comment in a training & nutrition forum.

Interesting.
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Old 01-02-24, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Yet you decided to add a comment in a training & nutrition forum.

Interesting.
No problem, I will stay out of this particular thread and not post anymore.
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Old 01-02-24, 01:21 PM
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I like my Instinct as I like not having to pull my phone out of my pocket to see the time (Oh My GOD, a WATCH !). Has a decent weather display, including wind speed and direction, which is useful on road rides. It also does a great job counting laps in the pool on my swim workouts, automatically ports that workout to RWGPS. Tracks my kayak trips, can display an estimate of my HR and send that data to display on my 1040 cycling computer. Useful when mt biking as I then take a short break to get my HR down below max.

I like my Instinct, it was worth the money.
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Old 01-02-24, 01:46 PM
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I like numbers/data and I am training, so I'll keep my watch, cycling computers, and power meters. That being said, there are some aspects of the watch/Garmin app that I ignore. I don't take training advice from the app, as I think the "training readiness" and "intensity" functions are complete BS.

I do like it for the heart rate variability and resting heart rate functions, that's a better metric for me to adjust my workouts. I also like having the calorie estimator. When riding, I can use the power meter to come up with a more accurate calorie estimate, but the watch is good for all the times I'm doing something that doesn't have a power-tracking feature. Why do I bother counting calories? I have a habit of over-eating on easy days and then massively under-eating on hard days. This leads me to being above my optimal race weight and having less-than-ideal recovery.

If I wasn't racing and building towards goals throughout the season, I probably wouldn't be doing any of this. When I took a year off from racing, I pretty much ignored my smart watch, other than to tell the time. On rides during that year, I only used my power meter as a pacing tool on long climbs.
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Old 01-02-24, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Yet you decided to add a comment in a training & nutrition forum.

Interesting.
All of Bike Forums seems to be full of folks that are averse to anything pertaining to training or tracked improvement. Those types seem to be compelled for whatever reasons known only to themselves to interject into every topic that has to do with actual or perceived improvement. As if we GAF about their lack of motivation. As if they believe to be in some way superior because they are over the whole improvement or training aspects of cycling.

AS far as the article, the title seems like a pointless thing to me and I could give reasons why I like the cycling computer and stats available during and after a ride, regardless of indoor or out, training, recovery, or just fun. The motivations of others and what they do doesn't factor into what I do. The authors seem to bring a perspective of making value choices that I simply do not find favorable. making claims as to demographics as if that should matter. At the end of the ride, day, week, month, and year I can check the boxes of did track fitness, did enjoy the activity, and did enjoy the documentation of that activity.
The folks that don't have improvement or training motivations also can check the box of they had fun. I make no judgements about my way or their way being better, happy that we're all happy with how we do.
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Old 01-02-24, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I like numbers/data and I am training, so I'll keep my watch, cycling computers, and power meters. That being said, there are some aspects of the watch/Garmin app that I ignore. I don't take training advice from the app, as I think the "training readiness" and "intensity" functions are complete BS.

I do like it for the heart rate variability and resting heart rate functions, that's a better metric for me to adjust my workouts. I also like having the calorie estimator. When riding, I can use the power meter to come up with a more accurate calorie estimate, but the watch is good for all the times I'm doing something that doesn't have a power-tracking feature. Why do I bother counting calories? I have a habit of over-eating on easy days and then massively under-eating on hard days. This leads me to being above my optimal race weight and having less-than-ideal recovery.

If I wasn't racing and building towards goals throughout the season, I probably wouldn't be doing any of this. When I took a year off from racing, I pretty much ignored my smart watch, other than to tell the time. On rides during that year, I only used my power meter as a pacing tool on long climbs.
I've been reading about the use of continuous glucose monitors during training - they're currently banned by the UCI. Interesting stuff.

"In 2018, Chip Hawkins, the founder of Wahoo, turned Southerlandís dream into a reality, connecting CGM data via Bluetooth to a head unit. 'When I could see that data minute by minute, everything about my fuelling changed and for the first time I was in control.' He then experimented. 'In 2019, I tested it on the teamís riders and it was a game- changer. They realised how wrong their fuelling perceptions had been, and when they corrected it they all went faster.'"

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/t...cling-is-safer
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Old 01-02-24, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
This article focuses on running, but I wonder if similar trends are happening in cycling?

https://theconversation.com/why-some...watches-216979
I read the article. The word "some" in the title is doing a lot of work.
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Old 01-02-24, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
As far as the article, the title seems like a pointless thing to me and I could give reasons why I like the cycling computer and stats available during and after a ride, regardless of indoor or out, training, recovery, or just fun. The motivations of others and what they do doesn't factor into what I do. The authors seem to bring a perspective of making value choices that I simply do not find favorable. making claims as to demographics as if that...
What I got out of the article is 30-somethings that grew up into adulthood in a world saturated in tech are either dependent on the device supplied metrics to the point of being slave to the metric or unable to do the activity with out it. OR finding themselves making the conscious effort to reject the device altogether so they can do the activity without all the unnecessary mental baggage. The old: "If you are not training, what's the point?" attitude.

Shunning mental baggage to enjoy life is such a Zoomer thing to do.
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Old 01-02-24, 07:32 PM
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Having a smart watch and Garmin and subscribing to TrainingPeaks to upload the data transformed my training and in a positive way. There several apps similar to TrainingPeaks to choose from. I can see that if one had no goals and was simply riding for fun, how aids which gave one quantitative and qualitative information could be a real drag.
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Old 01-03-24, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
I've been reading about the use of continuous glucose monitors during training - they're currently banned by the UCI. Interesting stuff.

"In 2018, Chip Hawkins, the founder of Wahoo, turned Southerlandís dream into a reality, connecting CGM data via Bluetooth to a head unit. 'When I could see that data minute by minute, everything about my fuelling changed and for the first time I was in control.' He then experimented. 'In 2019, I tested it on the teamís riders and it was a game- changer. They realised how wrong their fuelling perceptions had been, and when they corrected it they all went faster.'"

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/t...cling-is-safer
I've been hearing stuff about the continuous monitors as well. I've always struggled with fueling strategy and even now that I'm tracking my food, it's still not perfect. I've even had some scary moments in the past with low blood glucose, I could really see the benefit of a continuous monitor. My on-bike nutrition is really just an educated guess, being able to have a real-time metric to gauge your intake on, is a big deal IMO.
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Old 01-03-24, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I've been hearing stuff about the continuous monitors as well. I've always struggled with fueling strategy and even now that I'm tracking my food, it's still not perfect. I've even had some scary moments in the past with low blood glucose, I could really see the benefit of a continuous monitor. My on-bike nutrition is really just an educated guess, being able to have a real-time metric to gauge your intake on, is a big deal IMO.
If you have a power meter (yet another bothersome metric!), you can see kJ expended during a ride. Or Strava will estimate it closely enough. Half that number in calories will see you through anything, at least up to a 400k. I take a sip of carbs every 15'. If I notice my HR dropping w/r to watts or perceived effort if no PM, I take a bolus. My system is to put a large quantity of maltodextrin and whey protein mixed 7:1 by weight in a water bottle and shake 100 times. So that's 4 calories per gram of powder. On event rides, I eat little or nothing at the food stops. For serious rides, I eat or drink 400 Cal. of carbs 2-3 hours before the start.
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Old 01-03-24, 10:59 AM
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If I die, I want to go to heaven, and need the supporting documentation. Therefore, I upload as much data to Strava as possible.

PS: kJ and cal are both units of energy.
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Old 01-03-24, 11:40 AM
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In cycling, instantaneous metrics such as power open the door for participation in online platforms and sharing of information to social media. I have an iWatch and I like it but its performance / health metrics are a meh - not consistently, accurate enough.

What I find is that I need a sophisticated 3rd party to generate training plans and feedback against a goal. Then instantaneous metrics are recorded and put in perspective by the 3rd party. Without perspective and feedback, I have to rely on myself as a critic. If all one has is a watch and self critique, I imagine that when performance waxes and wanes, it is easy to give up against a goal and get demotivated. Or interpret the results incorrectly and stop using the watch, App or gadget.

With respect to the article, I think RChung had the right word...some. Some cyclists do not want feedback on how they cycle and by removing head units and watches and etc, frees their mind. Nothing wrong with that!!!!
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Old 01-03-24, 11:53 AM
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I'm just the type that likes to measure stuff. All kinds of stuff, not just exercise. Very little of it makes much difference to me in the big picture, except maybe - "Oh man, I've been off the damn bike for X days now.. it's time." Or, "Dang, I am starting to believe I will never beat that PR up that hill that I set in 2016..."
The sleep tracking is especially "funny" to me now. Like, tons of data, but not much I can do actually to utilize it.
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Old 01-03-24, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
What I find is that I need a sophisticated 3rd party to generate training plans and feedback against a goal. Then instantaneous metrics are recorded and put in perspective by the 3rd party. Without perspective and feedback, I have to rely on myself as a critic. If all one has is a watch and self critique, I imagine that when performance waxes and wanes, it is easy to give up against a goal and get demotivated. Or interpret the results incorrectly and stop using the watch, App or gadget.
That's an interesting point that I had not considered before. I imagine that a large number or amateur athletes train without a coach and using training plans + data to provide the structure and feedback that a traditional coach would.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-03-24, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
I've been hearing stuff about the continuous monitors as well. I've always struggled with fueling strategy and even now that I'm tracking my food, it's still not perfect. I've even had some scary moments in the past with low blood glucose, I could really see the benefit of a continuous monitor. My on-bike nutrition is really just an educated guess, being able to have a real-time metric to gauge your intake on, is a big deal IMO.
It may be even more useful to have a mini-iv infusion pump loaded with 40 or 50% dextrose that is triggered by the blood glucose level, say at 80mg/dl and programmed to stop when BG hits 110mg/dl.
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Old 01-04-24, 12:25 AM
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I used a FitBit for about a year some years ago. Basically, it did little for me except provide some info on sleep patterns. But FitBits were very unreliable at that time, maybe still are if they even still exist. Had more than one warranty replacement.

A few months back I tried a continuous glucose monitor just out of curiosity for two weeks. I’m not diabetic so it just showed expected things like a spike after eating that would settle to baseline in 30 minutes or so.

I thought I might see something interesting during rides, but basically my body just did what it was supposed to do and levels stayed pretty normal. I’m sure if I didn’t fuel on a long ride and bonked, it would have shown that, but I wasn’t going to intentionally bonk just to see what happened.

I use a Garmin bike computer religiously, and really enjoy the numbers and playing with data. I don’t train but do target miles and hours per week, as well as have some power goals on most rides. But sometimes these goals are to hold the power below a certain level. Not always to push to some target.

I get how some people like data, like me, and some couldn’t care less about data. Different strokes for different folks. I think this can also explain why some people only use these devices for a short time. They simply have to try them to find out if there is anything of use to them. They find out there isn’t, and stop using them.

I do see how for some it might be a bit like weighing yourself daily and getting discouraged with what you see. Especially if you place a lot of expectations on the numbers.

I have done more formal training, the data showed it helped, but the work I put in was not worth the results since I wasn’t competing and the relatively small improvement wasn’t worth it to me. I also learned how quickly fitness gains, that took months to achieve, are lost when illness or injury keeps you off the bike.

My point is the data didn’t discourage me, it just gave me the info to decide that training hard wasn’t worth it to me.
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Old 01-04-24, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
That's an interesting point that I had not considered before. I imagine that a large number or amateur athletes train without a coach and using training plans + data to provide the structure and feedback that a traditional coach would.

Thanks for sharing.
That is exactly what I do. I use a data driven adaptive training plan. Power and HR are the key input metrics for this. But I also just like to keep a log of my rides and small group of riding friends. I find Strava convenient for that purpose. Once set up, everything is automated, so there is very little effort involved. I basically just have to start and stop my Garmin and the data goes out to my training app (PILLAR) and Strava. Indoor ride data from Zwift also goes straight into these apps.

I also have a simple fitness tracker (Fitbit) but I only really use that for monitoring my resting HR and HRV and it doubles up as a watch and alarm. I find resting HR quite a useful metric for fatigue and recovery, but Iím not convinced about HRV. For me HRV doesnít seem to vary much or correlate with fatigue. I always seem to get relatively low values so maybe Iím just shot all the time! The other use I have for Fitbit is automated weight/body fat monitoring. I have one of their scales and it automatically feeds data straight into the app via WiFi. So I have a complete weight log going back to 2014 when I bought the scale. All I have to do is stand on the scale for a few seconds every morning.

I donít find any of this difficult or onerous and it makes a big difference to my overall health and fitness.
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Old 01-04-24, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
I find resting HR quite a useful metric for fatigue and recovery, but Iím not convinced about HRV. For me HRV doesnít seem to vary much or correlate with fatigue. I always seem to get relatively low values so maybe Iím just shot all the time!
Your personal absolute HRV value doesn't seem to mean much, but changes do seem to track with fitness, stress, fatigue or illness fairly well (for me). It varies day by day, but it can show a trend over several days.

HRV varies a lot during the day, so you need to measure it consistently. I do a one-minute breathing exercise when I get up, recording HRV on an Apple Watch.


Graph from hrv4training.web.app
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Old 01-04-24, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Your personal absolute HRV value doesn't seem to mean much, but changes do seem to track with fitness, stress, fatigue or illness fairly well (for me). It varies day by day, but it can show a trend over several days.

HRV varies a lot during the day, so you need to measure it consistently. I do a one-minute breathing exercise when I get up, recording HRV on an Apple Watch.


Graph from hrv4training.web.app
I get my HRV off Fitbit, which automatically takes an average while asleep I think. Mine varies from day to day, but not much and doesn't really correlate much with fatigue. It does drop a little after a hard training block, but doesn't tell me anything useful. Resting HR on the other hand consistently tells me when I'm over-reaching or getting sick and often before I feel it.
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