Life, Lifting and the Pursuit of Data

Tuesday, 7/5
July 4, 2016
Wednesday, 7/6
July 5, 2016


By CrossFit DC member Mia R.

I love data.

That doesn’t shock most people: I’m a project manager (think deadlines, budgets, utilization, VAC, BAC, SPI, EV) and an endurance athlete (Watts, Splits, RPM, Heart Rate). If there’s a statistic to be had, you bet I’ve tracked it. My Garmin and Mio are my trusty data collecting sidekicks and I spend way too much time reviewing splits, or comparing my sleep health from Sleep Cycle against performance.

I took the same approach when I started CrossFit. After several triathlons, including an Ironman, marathons, Ragnar Relays, a broken foot and some endurance burnout, I figured I’d spend my off-season working on strength training. Enter CrossFit. It’s no secret that beginning CrossFitters get a few months of “PR city” — it seems like every week is a new PR! After years of measuring my progress through minutes or seconds of improvement in my three endurance sports, getting to experience “big” PRs in CrossFit was addictive.

But CrossFit doesn’t necessarily have Garmins or one or two specific metrics to track — we’re device-less and confronted with literally hundreds of different measurements. 1, 3, 5 rep maxes. The Girls, Heroes, endurance times and gymnastic feats. How in the world do you even get your head around how to capture all that data?


I did my best. I built a spreadsheet that changed colors and marked an event when I PR’ed, but all my years of Excel training were no match. I spent more time making the tool than I did using it or even going to the gym.

So I switched to paper. My handwriting is atrocious, but I could rely on keeping my workouts straight and my PRs and working weights in front of me… if I remembered my notebook (spoiler alert: I often forgot it).

So, I tried a few other services and while everything was a little bit easier than my spreadsheet and my notebook, nothing really hit the spot. I was in limbo between my beat-up notebook and a few buggy apps.


Then we got an email:

I downloaded the TrainHeroic app immediately and loved the user interface. Boom – today’s workout front and center. Leaderboard for some friendly competition? Yes, please. Want to spend part of your afternoon slump talking with your gymmates? They’ve got a place for that. Working maxes? You bet. I can even digitally fistbump my girl squad when they post a great workout.

But more importantly, MANY articles and lectures are out there about the science of CrossFit (and really, any sport). It’s no secret that CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman believes in the power of data. He’s written: “the methodology that drives CrossFit is entirely empirical. We believe that meaningful statements about safety, efficacy, and efficiency, the three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program, can be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable facts, i.e., data.”


Tracking data isn’t just for celebrating PRs and bragging about your Fran time at the gym happy hours (I mean, it is…) it’s for identifying weaknesses, appropriately challenging yourself and staying away from a slump.

And for me, TrainHeroic delivers.

I’m a big fan of the “history” component – I can see how/if I’m making progress:


Now take a look at what they did with the data from my workout today:


Several weeks ago, I posted a 1RM of 123# on my front squat. Based on today’s data, TrainHeroic is predicting I’ve got up another 10 pounds on that lift. You bet I’m reaching for that next time we have a front squat 1RM workout instead of shyly dipping my toe in the water at the 123#-128# mark.

I’m willing to believe their numbers, too. Before I input my existing maxes into my account, I posted a workout and my predicted max was within 2 pounds of my actual max.


If current performance is any indicator of future success, I’m looking forward to the next features coming in TrainHeroic.


Moral of the story: data is critical to progression in your training. TrainHeroic is helping CFDC athletes better track their progress and internet memes make a blog post about data more interesting.


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1 Comment

  1. Bernard says:

    Nicely put and helpful. Tx