Software and Equipment
The Athlete's Diary
The Athlete's Diary from Stevens Creek Software stresses simplicity. It memorizes your training routes to save you the trouble of inputting them every time. You also create charts with a single menu choice. However, it can only chart one element at a time, such as mileage or average heart rate. This means you can't compare, say, caloric intake and speed in the same chart, which is useful for serious athletic training.
$59.95 : Win 3.x, Mac
Attain for Cycling
Attain for Cycling makes it easy to create plans to meet your goals. This plan is for a total bicycling mileage goal for the year.
$59.95 : Win 3.x
An excellent program for logging workout times and mileage. It also logs just about everything else about your life. Life Form also has accommodations for nonathletic factors, like your mood or your love life. The only thing missing from Life Form is the ability to download heart rate information from a monitor, but it does provide a place to manually record that data.
$49 : Win 3.x
Menu Planner, a disc from Ohio Distinctive Software, starts with your basic menu needs, such as whether you are young, old, meat eater, or vegetarian. Based on that, it tells you what you can eat for good health and provides menu guidelines and examples.
$4 : Win 3.x, DOS, Mac
For dedicated runners and triathletes, the most detailed and professional workout plans come from Biometrics' PC Coach. Basically, it's a logging program. But when you buy the module that was developed by well-known athletes, you'll be able to create gold-medal routines. Be prepared for a steep learning curve.
$59.95, $69.95 with training plan : Win 3.x, Mac
Polar XTrainer Plus
This comes with Polar USA's Interface Plus, a module for downloading information from a heart rate monitor to your computer. Use Interface Plus to download heart rate data from Polar's XTrainer Plus, a high-end heart rate monitor and sports watch combination. (The monitor sends data to the watch for storage.)
$299 + Polar Interface Plus and Training Advisor module, $249 : Win 3.x
A software and hardware package for racing with an opponent over a direct modem connection, an Internet version is expected later this year. A bit pricey for the average user.
$1,329 (includes software and training stand and related hardware) : Win 3.x and Win95
UltraCoach presents a choice of workouts for the day, each of which includes how long to maintain a high heart rate and how long a lower rate, but UltraCoach doesn't provide the detail -- like intervals, for instance -- that Training Advisor does. Nor does it provide workouts beyond the current day, so you can't plan a long-term training schedule. Charts and graphs of workouts are easy to create and show multiple variables, such as displays of both heart rate and cycling speed.
$59.95, $79.95 for version that downloads heart rate data : Win 3.x
Use a special device from UltraCoach to connect an exercise machine, which you must buy separately, to a serial port on your PC, then venture out to UltraCoach's server, where you'll challenge your opponents over the Internet.
$149.95 (includes software and serial interface) : Win95