Product Review: The Athlete’s Diary
There is some excellent training diary software out there designed specifically for endurance athletes, so it’s time to retire those arcane spreadsheet programs to the recycle bin on your desktop, and embrace the new technologies as friends. PCN’s sport scientist and favorite geek Stephen Cheung introduces us to Stevens Creek Software’s “The Athlete’s Diary”…
Stevens Creek Software is a company based out of Cupertino, California, and has a special niche within the world of athletic software. Since its debut in 1990, The Athlete’s Diary (TAD) has gone through numerous upgrades to its present 4.0.1 version, and has been adopted by the likes of George Hincapie and Frankie Andreu, in addition to 2002 Hawaii Ironman winner Harriett Anderson.
What makes TAD unique in my books? Two things pop to mind as I’ve used it over the past month to log my training. First, it comes in both Windows and Mac versions, making it accessible to a wider range of users. Another big bonus is that it comes in a handheld version that is fully synchronizable between your Palm device and your desktop. This may not be a big deal when you’re based out of home, but it becomes invaluable when you’re traveling. After all, unless you’re a pro with thousands of people flocking to your website on a daily basis to read your latest thoughts on whether Duncan and Mario really were holding hands, it becomes a royal pain to be lugging your laptop on your next road trip or to write everything down and then transfer it when you get home.
SIMPLE… YET EASY
Even the most powerful software is useless if you don’t use it, so it’s important to make data entry as painless as possible. These guys do it nicely. It’s a very rare athlete that does not repeat workouts, and TAD permits you to memorize particular workouts and enter the basics in all the proper fields by clicking on that stored workout. You are then free to modify it as necessary to that particular day. You can also store keywords that permit you to recall and chart important information like resting heart rate.
The design principle behind TAD appears to be that, though primarily intended for endurance athletes, it should be versatile enough to be used by a wide variety of athletes in different sports (you can choose to log up to eight sports or activities in detail). This explains the relatively free-form data entry and the wide ability to enter different data for recall. However, the flip side of this freedom is that it does make some type of regular data entry, such as time in different training zones, a bit more cumbersome.
Now I’m one of those types who like to just start playing with the software rather than reading through the instructions. But in this case it certainly does not pay to be like me. TAD definitely requires some forethought when you first set up the program in order to get the most out of it subsequently, so take the time to think through things like what major sports/activities you want to have separate categories for, and what workouts or keywords you want to store.
To test out the handheld version, I spent a week entering data only through my Palm. Just like with any handheld device, extensive data entry does get a bit cumbersome, but not if you’re a true techno-geek like myself and have a keyboard. The large majority of the desktop version’s features transferred directly across to the Palm, so there was no need to set everything up twice. It did take me a little bit of playing around to get the synchronization completely flawless between the two units. But once that was done, synchronization was dead simple in both directions with just one push of the Palm’s Hotsync button.
Overall, the TAD is an excellent piece of software for tracking your training, especially if you do a lot of sports apart from the traditional endurance ones.
Get more info from their website: Stevens Creek Software