Thursday, January 29, 2009

SportTracks Software

Since my four mile run yesterday went along uneventfully (10:13 pace, 80% MHR), I thought I would spend today's blog highlighting SportTracks - the software that I use as my training diary.

Like most Garmin owners, I started out using Garmin Training Center (GTC). I was in heaven to be able to record a workout and then analyze data afterwards. There is nothing that keep me more motivated than looking at improvement over time. So - everything was going just fine in GTC until I bought a new computer running Vista. All of a sudden, GTC stopped working (actually still worked but would not save new data - that's another story though). I started looking for options. At the time I was also using an online service at Training Peaks, but didn't feel that it was worth the expense ($129 a year on a subscription basis). So as I was poking around, there were a bunch of people on the Runner's World Gear and Electronics forum talking about this software called SportTracks. What I found was a piece of software that does everything that I was using GTC for (with one exception) and then some. There's been no looking back.

SportTracks is a software application that is available at ZoneFive Software. It is not an online product. It is a product that runs on your computer (as does GTC). This is important if you want the portability of an online product. Since I always have my computer close by, having an online product is not was not important to me. The other important requirement is that it is only PC compatible (sorry Mac owners!). Downloading and installation is effortless. Best of all, the product is free (although the publishers welcome donations).

Now, I'm not going to go through all of the functions and features of the product - you can get that from ZoneFive's website. But I will go through those that were important to me. First, the user interface is very nice. Clean, simple, yet provides all of the important data that I wanted to see:

Changing a view is as simple as selecting from a drop down:

For example, changing from a summary view to a split view is as easy as selecting the "Splits" view from the drop down:

Now for the really cool stuff. One of the issues that I always had is that the way I want to perform a workout is different from the way I want to track data. For example, if I have a 12 mile 3/1 LSD (3/4's of the run at LSD pace, 1/4 at HM pace), I need feedback from my watch on pace for the first 9 miles and the last 3 miles. But, in GTC, to view mile splits, I would have to set AutoIntervals on the Garmin. This means that pace data would reset each mile as well. Well, the cool thing with SportTracks, is that I am able to capture data on the Garmin using one set of criteria, and then analyze the data using different criteria! Take for example, the aforementiond 12 mile LSD. Here is the way pace data comes into SportTracks from my Garmin:

Then, by just changing the split criteria through a simple drop down:

I get what I am looking for - pace by mile:

As you can see, this product is a very full featured rich product that anyone with a Garmin should be using. Check it out if you are looking for something that provides a wealth of data analysis tools.
The only caveat - the only thing that the product does not do is allow you to upload workouts to your Garmin. There is a "plugin" that supposedly allows you to do this, but I have yet to get the time to check it out. IN the meantime, I still rely on GTC to build and enter workouts into my Forerunner.


  1. Thanks for all the info! I am definitely gonna try it, I'll let you know how it goes.

  2. Thanks for the info, Glenn. I downloaded it this evening and I'm giddy. The maps are so much better than the GTC. I haven't played around with many of the other features, but I can't wait to try.

  3. I just got SportTracks a few weeks ago, and haven't used it much but I already like it better than GarminConnect. I'm definitely bookmarking your post for reference so I can learn how to use it better!

  4. I started using it a month ago and really like a lot of the features. It is great that it will keep track of my shoe mileage since I rotate 3 pr.

    I am challenged in finding a way to print charts. Any thoughts.

  5. SportTracks is one of my favorite pieces of software.

    I don't run, but I hike, cycle, and kayak. I always take my GPS ( Garmin Oregon 550t ) with me, and put the GPX files to several uses. I was happy enough to be able to project them over Google Earth, but this is a huge step up.

    The calendars on the left edge of the screen turn blue when you enter a track for a given day. That's become a big motivating factor for me ... I see solid blue, and don't want to start creating "holes" in it. So I go out every day, and do something. I love the activity reports, too, and the map with the red dots showing everywhere I've begun some type of exercise.

    Since I already have the GPS, I find I get a lot more out of it using this kind of software.

  6. Am I correct in saying this only works with PC`s?
    Can it work with Mac at all?

  7. Dave - I'm not a Mac person so I'm not sure. I have head of people running it in a virtual PC on a mac. You're best dorecting this question to ZoneFive Software or googling....