What's Cool In Road Cycling

Product Review: CrossTrak 2.9 Training Diary

If you have been following any of my writings in the ToolBox, you’ll know the importance I place on knowing yourself, and the importance of keeping a detailed training diary (See End Of Season Review) But like flossing your teeth daily, it can get to be a pain to do day after day unless it’s simple yet fun to do.

I’ve personally used the CrossTrak system (www.crosstrak.com) to track my own training for the past 3+ years now (probably setting a record for a product review!). It’s developed by a group of athletes here in my hometown of Halifax and has gone through a series of upgrades leading up to the current v2.9 (just released Feb 1, 2003). The best thing about CrossTrak is its combination of stunning ease of use and power. Not only does it makes data entry incredibly simple to perform, it gives you oodles of options for what and how much data to enter, and at the same time can generate so many reports in different formats that it will more than satisfy the most techno of techno-geeks.

CrossTrak is designed to accommodate specific data entry for five activities: cycling, running, swimming, skiing, and weights. There is also an “Others” workout section where you can custom-enter any other sport or activity (see Figure 1). You can also enter important recovery information such as weight, sleep, resting heart rate, along with general comments about the day.

Data entry for each of these activities is incredibly simple. There are entries for everything from the type of workout and the course, to time in five different heart rate AND power zones, to environment (see Figure 2). You can also even track your equipment use to keep track of wear and tear. CrossTrak also removes the grunt work of entry by allowing you to set up repeating entries. After you’ve set this up once, you can just click on the entry to input it into the field, and you can also add or modify your setup anytime you wish. Overall, even with all the info I log from my workouts, I’ve never spent more than three minutes entering any day of training into CrossTrak.

Once the data is entered, you can get just about any report you can ever wish for with just a couple of mouse clicks. Not only can you get traditional printed copies of your diary, you can get reports or graphs of everything from equipment use to time in different heart rate zones in each sport for any period of time (see Figure 3).

Two other key features of CrossTrak makes it unique among training software. First, it is compatible with all Polar and many other downloadable heart rate monitors, permitting you to merge your heart rate data directly into CrossTrak. Secondly, you can easily upload and send your entire training diary to your coach, making it invaluable for optimal coaching.

CrossTrak greatly values user input to improve their product, and service is top-notch. They offer the software in two versions: a completely free basic v2.0 with no upgrades or tech support, and the v2.9 with full tech support and free upgrades for a year (upgrading from previous versions is a snap). Only available for Windows-based systems, but on the horizon is a Palm-compatible version that will sync with the desktop version.

Overall, I found that CrossTrak takes away just about every excuse imaginable to not keep a training diary, and I have never had a problem with the system. Can’t really ask for more.

See more at their website:www.crosstrak.com

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