SportTracks are pitching themselves into the cycling world against Garmin Connect and Strava
We were sent a press release recently that, in a nutshell, told us that Garmin users can now enjoy deeper data analysis via the SportTracks app. Well we’d largely forgotten about SportTracks in the Strava dominated world we cyclists currently seem to inhabit, so we thought rather than just precis the press release, we’d better find out a bit more about SportTracks, else you might just ignore it and possibly miss out on something good…
For most of us Strava or Garmin Connect are ideal for keeping track of training, but Strava is all social and segments and Garmin enforced and essential. If you want more in-depth analysis both systems may frustrate you, so you may decide to invest in something like Training Peaks, though it’s an investment of time as well as financial, being involved and somewhat complicated.
Enter SportTracks, a user friendly, fitness application that helps ‘athletes achieve their training goals through data analysis and metricdriven training’, which makes it sound more like Training Peaks as opposed to either of the other apps.
SportTracks recently announced a partnership with Garmin Connect to allow users to sync their data straight into the SportTracks application. If you use a Garmin then you will no doubt use Garmin Connect, even if it is simply as a conduit into Strava, so this is a smart move by SportTracks to get Garmin users to do the same.
The question is whether there is room or the need for another training app sitting on your computer’s bookmarks bar alongside Strava and Garmin Connect, not to mention the other apps you may you for specific sessions, which for me is currently Bkool for any turbo training I do?
Garmin Connect you have to use – if you have Garmin device that is – and Garmin are trying to make Connect emulate Strava, with community features and segments but are some way behind. As previously alluded to, many people simply use Garmin Connect as a synced conduit into Strava, where they store all of their ride data. And the motivation to be part of Strava comes from the segments, to compare yourself against the rest of the community, and for the resultant social networking side, keeping track of what your mates and rivals are up to.
We’ve had a chance to have a play around with SportTracks and whilst on the face of it there are all the features of the other applications in there, barring segments, it soon becomes clear that SportTracks is much better for the athlete who wants to analyse things a bit more than is the norm.
The ability to perform detailed analysis, quickly with SportTracks is a big selling point of the system and now being able to sync it with Garmin Connect is a major plus as well. It means that, via Garmin Connect, you can sync into Strava and into SportTracks simultaneously. As such the two might sit very well together; the former you could use for the segments and social, whilst the latter allows you to quickly drill down into the detail and look at how you are doing against your past workouts and performances.
Immediately I preferred SportTracks for analysis, mainly due to the usability. Ask a question of your training and it is so much easier to dig the answer out of SportTracks than either Strava or Garmin. Strava seems to specialise in nice-to-have yet arguably, slightly gimmicky features – power curves, heatmaps, etc – that are of debatable value to a serious training athlete. Garmin Connect is perhaps more detailed than Strava but usability is not it’s strong point.
In the example below, you can see I have looked at the same workout on all three platforms, in this instance a fitness test performed on the Bkool trainer system we have here. The layout of Strava and Garmin Connect don’t lend themselves to in-depth analysis and SportTracks performs well in this respect. You can really drill down, quickly and easily, into parts of a workout to highlight the relevant bit – the actual training bit.
Of course, this all depends on you having the inclination and time to analyse your training, and you might argue that, if that is you, then perhaps Training Peaks is the best option.
We could all analyse more… As they say in the Army, “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”. If you know what you need to train and what training you need to do based on fact not feel, then you are going to improve much more rapidly.
And we soon found that SportTracks isn’t perfect. There are still a number of bugs that the developers there need to sort out, like cycling speed zones being presented at running speeds… And that may be where it falls down; Strava was started by cyclists and now covers runners but SportTracks seems to have been started by runners and now covers cyclists, as well as every other outdoor sport you can imagine.
SportTracks are predictably bullish. “We are thrilled with this partnership,” Aaron Averill, CEO of SportTracks, said referring to the Garmin partnership. “Now athletes can spend less time transferring data and more time incorporating immediate, actionable insights into their training plan. You can walk in from your run, hit the stop button on your Garmin, open SportTracks on your tablet, and have the most robust analysis available, right at your fingertips.”
“Performance athletes have busy lives and need a seamless training experience,” said Averill. “Data from all their devices should be available wherever they are. They want to go from recording data, to analyzing performance, to planning their next workout, and they want that experience to be as easy as possible.”
SportTracks offer SportTracks Pro, as an online or Windows app, and SportTracks 3, as a Windows application only; both are paid for applications. The free version is SportTracks.mobi, a mobilefriendly web app, which is the app we have used.
Time will tell whether it’s a hit or miss with cyclists but at the very least you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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