Keeping track of a few parameters is essential to achieve meaningful training. Recorded data will help establish a baseline and then trends can be distinguished from there. This will help to find out what works for you and what does not.
I personally monitor only 3 factors which are intimately related to the performance on the bicycle:
- Workout duration
- Workout intensity and type
Of course, more data oriented persons might monitor many more parameters, like calorie intake, sleep duration, sleep quality and what not… Just a word of caution to this category of persons, monitoring too many factors might diminish the focus on the primary factors.
Intensity. The workout intensity can be measured using both “perceived” effort or with data using a power meter. None of my bikes are equipped with a power meter so a three level scale of perceived effort (light, medium and hard) does the trick for me.
Type. I categorize my workouts into 3 categories: race, interval and steady ride. Again, there is nothing wrong with refining the categories but then it might become harder to classify: i.e. was it a steady ride with intervals or an interval ride mixed with a steady ride?
Weight. Obviously, the more mass, the more energy (effort) will be necessary to go over a hill or accelerate out of a corner; so the weight of the rider is an important factor to monitor. In case you are not currently monitoring your weight, don’t be surprised to notice variations of several pounds from one day to the next. Consequently, weight value should only be used as an average (for example: the average value for the month). To reduce the variability of the measure, try to weight yourself at the same time every day (as you wake up for example).