A thought blog this week mixing a few of my passions together. Over the years, I’ve slowly been collecting more data about myself to track my progress, mostly relating to physical and mental wellbeing. Some individuals might steer away from the concept of this, after all it can be fairly personal thing but for me it really helps me stay on track. I have found my physical and mental have wider impacts on work, friendships and relationships.
This blog will be about three of the main applications I use currently, as well as how we can start to link those datasets up together. If you use other apps too, then let me know!
- Strava – (Free) Many will of heard of it, I use this to track all exercise I do, This includes workouts, weightlifting, running, as well as playing hockey. (I wear an apple watch)
- Hevy – (Free) This app I got at the start of the year, I use it specifically only for weightlifting sessions. It helps me track repetitions, sets and types of workouts I’ve been doing. (No tech required, manual app input)
- WHOOP – (Paid) More recently I’ve been using whoop to track my sleep schedules, mental well being as well as log my activities…. they push straight to strava which is a life sender, The only time I don’t use it is for GPS activities. (I wear the whoop 4.0 band)
You can find some snippets of my personal data in the repo. I’ve removed a huge chunk for protection reasons, but if its of interest what kind of information you can find and whether there are metrics in there you’d like to track.
Let’s take a little look at each application before looking to join the data up.
I’ve written at length about strava, and how you can download your data in the past. They export it in a huge zip file and it contains everything from activities, to gpx file, through to your social elements of events, followers and logins. It’s actually slightly overwhelming the amount of data Strava stores! the main one we will look at is the activities.
The activities folder contains GPX files, this blog shows how to prep a Strava map in Tableau.
The free version of strava is very useful for:
- Map coordinates
- Looking at pace per mile or km
- Heart rate data
- General overview of number of activities.
- Gamification (badges for whether you’ve run 5/10/21.1km runs or done over 100km that month are some of my favourite ones to go for)
- Hours spent exercising a month
The Hevy App export is just one csv file – it is at the exercise set level so there are multiple rows per workout. You can check the input file in the github repo to get a flavour for whats included.
My favourite things about the app:
- You pick the exercises from a logbook so it has consistency in naming conventions
- There are some summary stats around muscle groups and training frequency
- It reminds you of your previous weights so acts as a great reminder of progress.
Here are a few snapshots from the app that help explain.
Whoop has a whole bunch of metrics that are useful from tracking workouts, through to sleep, and journalling. You can read a little more around WHOOP here.
There are 4 main files – I have uploaded the workout file into the repo. The journal entries file is a bit too personal to upload, but the screen shot below shows some of the items you can add to your journal entry.
The journal is customisable to track elements that you may find important
Sleep & Recovery – With the help of WHOOP we can measure the impact of sleep on our recovery.
Sleep Breakdown (Yes I get very little REM sleep and it hurts)
Strain and Duration – We can look at longer runs the impact it has on the body in terms of strain. This lets us optimise future workouts. The ideal is the body recovers quickly even when put under more strain for longer.
Check out what this looks like in the app:
So why collect all this data?
- Well interestingly enough, it can be joined together for a more detailed view.
I tend to do this in two ways. I post in the comment of all my strava workouts the url for the hevy link.
Mainly though we can connect on date and activity. (It is rare I would go for two runs in the same day)
2) Trends over time – I think the above three apps are great when tracking metrics day to day. But to really improve at anything, It is about doing them over months and years to have an impact. That’s why the export data is so useful!
3) Discrepancies in apps – I notice my apple watch and whoop measure max heart rate slightly differently for each exercise, measuring it twice can help me take into account fluctuations.
4) Building a more well-rounded overview – I no longer have to look at individual events but can now look at the relationship between different elements. For example, how does drinking alcohol negatively impact mood and sport performance the next day. What impact does hydration have on recovery and runs of different distances? No one wants to be running a 13 miler dehydrated from the day before. Does my rolling average mood impact the effort I put into weights sessions?
Anyway, hopefully this blog gives some thoughts around ways you may want to track your own health. Maybe I will look to do a larger project that visualises all the data from these apps…. Lots to explore and we have barely touched the surface so far of some of the insights we could get from this data.
Final note from me – I’ve posted an example of the workflow in the GitRepo – all it has is some date amendment fields, and filters to split out workouts and runs and an example of how to join the datasets from the raw data you would export from the various apps.