Heart rate monitors and GPS watches can be used to track an athlete's progress.(Photo by Chris Hunkeler via Wikimedia Commons.)

Wearable gadgets used to track data are becoming more popular among professional and amateur athletes who want to see the progress of their training.

A strong supporter of these devices, Matt Dixon is the founder of Purple Patch Fitness and a trainer for Sami Inkinen, founder of the real estate website Trulia. 

Dixon trains professional and amateur athletes and has worked for Inkinen for years. Dixon says Inkinen uses a 26-coulmn spreadsheet to track everything from quality of sleep to caloric intake and every minute of exercise or training session over the last four-to-five years.

"You name it and Sami is tracking it," he said.

Through Inkinen's tracked data, Dixon says, they've looked for trends of how Inkinen's body reacts to different types of training or amounts of sleep.

"Because of (Inkinen's) very busy life, he obviously has a big bucket of life stress and we're trying to ensure that we can maximize the efficiency of his training and still yield a lead performance as it applies to amateur triathlons," he said.

In 2011, Inkinen finished the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon in less than nine hours, beating some professional athletes. Though Inkinen trained, on average, 12 hours a week, Dixon says, Inkinen posseses good DNA and is a naturally strong athlete.

"In a sport like this that attracts highly motivated, very successful people that feel like they need to do a lot of training, there is a common problem especially amongst the amateur athletes," he said.

Some amateur athletes put in hours of training, but the stress of training combined with life stress can become overwhelming and they aren't able to adapt, Dixon said.

"My teaching is, yes you have to train hard, but you have to balance that training with adequate recovery and rest. As well as support that training with good quality nutrition, hydration and fueling so your body can actually respond and positively adapt to the training stimulus you're trying to get to," he said.

It's important to use the tracked data, Dixon says, because it can show if someone is improving. There are body-monitoring gadgets for every budget, Dixon says, and he encourages many of his busier athletes to invest in Restwise because it graphs a daily check-in.

"There are gadgets that are very expensive, such as power meters on bicycles that give you an objective measurement of work done or power produced. But GPS watches and heart rate monitors are very cheap and many of the applications are relatively inexpensive," he said.

The information these gadgets can track are important for any athlete because it helps them become in-tune with their body and gives them an understanding of how their body responds to different training, Dixon said.

"In everything in life, if you're just training in an abyss or you're just exercising in the abyss, you don't have the opportunity to actually see progression," he said.

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