The 7 stages of data loss. How does one deal with it?

Picture this…..I’m rolling into my driveway after 218km on the bike, nearly a full day of work for a normal person.  This has been one of my longest rides, which was on epic course with a massive amount of climbing, and a really cool crew.  I was looking forward to checking out the Power and Heart Rate data produced throughout the day as sessions like this hardly come by, but lets face it, more importantly I was wanting to upload it to Strava and gain some serious bragging rights (admit it, I’m not the only one who thinks this way).

Before I had even taken my cycle shoes off I was busily syncing my bike computer to my laptop through the usual process.  But for some reason during my caffeine fueled, slightly hypoglycaemic and slightly woozy stooper I noticed my cycle computer had shifted to reset mode (I don’t really know what happened, so let’s assume User Error).  I had that sinking feeling that I imagine someone mistakenly transferring millions of dollars to the wrong bank account would have.  Oh yes, this had just happened.  All data was deleted from my device, including the ‘Grand Tour stage’ I had just ridden.


How did I deal with it?  Firstly I told Social Media, searching for sympathy, then I thought about it a bit and wrote this blog.  The common theme from the online community….”If it’s not on Strava the session didn’t exist.”  And to be honest, I have said this plenty of times before, never expecting that one day it would be me pleading for sympathy and some miraculous solution.  So perhaps next time I won’t be so hasty with my taunts of others who suffer this same fate.

There are some distinct stages that one passes through when this sort of thing happens, so I thought I would highlight them, and give a few of tips on how to deal with it.  Actually it’s worth reading on as there is quite useful stuff you can take away from this.

Stage 1:  Shock & Denial

You will most likely react to loss of your data with numbed disbelief. You are likely to firstly deny the reality of the loss in order to avoid the pain. This may last for a few hours, and for some of you maybe days.  But seriously, you have to move through this stage rapidly to ease the trauma to your family members and training partners.  It’s highly likely that they won’t really care about it, and most certainly are going to make fun of you for it, so ready yourself for the reality of this.

Stage 2: Pain & Guilt

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain.  This is a deep visceral pain, it is a culmination of the stress and strain from the previous hours and hours of exercise concentrated into a very small nugget which passes through every aching, fatigued muscle fibre.  Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with coffee, pies and Cronuts.  Just hope this pain passes quickly.  You will have guilty feelings or remorse over Strava segments you would have knocked off, Peak Power Top 10’s you would have reached and average speeds you would have maintained.  There is no way of proving this, it’s just your word, and how convincing you can be of it to those who care enough to listen.  This is a chaotic and scary phase.

Stage 3: Anger & Bargaining

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the loss on someone else.  Perhaps you feel a loved one or training partner played an evil trick on you and tampered with your device, deleting the file on purpose. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. Don’t throw things at a wall or tap erratically at your cycle computer’s buttons.  This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion, but keep it to a level where you know that damaging expensive cycle componentry or equipment isn’t going to occur.

You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with Online Support Forums, Help Desks and Facebook groups but you are highly likely to come across the dreaded words “Sorry, User Error, your data is gone.”


Stage 4: Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

A long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you as you enter this stage. No doubt you will think you are the only person having gone through a traumatic incident such as this.  During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may resort to telling Social Media about your issues (I did), looking for support from your online friends.  You may start reflecting on things you experienced during the session such as quad destroying climbs and vicious cross-winds.  You will probably call some of the crew you were training with in that session, seeking support and affirmation of your great achievement.  You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair, and may start embellishing a bit on what you did through your session, add a few more km to the distance you think you rode, a few more hundred meters of elevation gained, the Strava segments you were certain you would have crowned, and the fact that you didn’t even need a can of Coca-Cola to get you home.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn

As you start to adjust to life without your data, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.  This is the stage you ring your Coach and come clean with what has just happened.

Stage 6: Reconstruction & Working Through

As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to the problem. You will figure out ways to avoid this happening again, maybe even consider buying a second device for future sessions, and have it running simultaneously to avoid a similar incident occurring…drastic, but I know people who do it

The most important thing is to work with your Coach here.  Just because your data is lost you still have to update your training log to keep an accurate track of your acute and chronic training load.  For those of you using training software such as Training Peaks you can perform a manual entry, by which you need to estimate the stress the session inflicted.  Software like Training Peaks uses a Training Stress Score value, so calculate what you think the workout did to you.

Hopefully you were aware of the approximate distance, duration, average Heart Rate and average power.  From here you can get a fairly accurate assessment of the session TSS.

Have a look at this graph I have taken from Joe Friel’s blog to estimate the TSS score for the session from which you lost the data.

TSS calculator

I will use the ride I did as an example.  I remember briefly seeing the average speed and average power for the ride just as I rolled down my driveway, and I estimated it to be mid Zone2, which according to the table above is 4/10 effort, which seemed about right.  TSS for this would be 50-60/hour, so over nearly 8 hours it would be 480TSS.  There were a few steep climbs in this ride, so I added a few more points for good measure, and I didn’t want to underestimate the score and risk over-training in the subsequent sessions, so I called it 500TSS.  I entered this value into my Training Peaks Calendar to keep my weekly totals accurate.

Trust me, from a Coaches perspective, this is a really really important thing to do.  Missing out on a significant amount of TSS in a well maintained Performance Management Chart will have implications for the reliability of that graph in the near future.

Stage 7: Acceptance & Hope

During this, the last of the seven stages, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation.  You will always have that knowledge in your mind that you lost that data, but the wrenching pain will be gone.  For the Stravaphiles in the community, you will start to look forward and actually plan to avoid these things in the future.  You will always be double checking you have sufficient battery, your devices are calibrated, and auto-pause is enabled.

You may recall that a few years ago you wouldn’t have cared less if you didn’t get any data from that session.  In fact it has only been the last 15 years that I have really taken notice of things like Heart Rate and distance.  Until then it was all about the perceived effort and duration.  But time has changed, and with the availability of sports technology which is more powerful than the technology used to fly aircraft a generation ago, we tend to take it for granted.  In fact it isn’t a bad thing to just go for a swim, bike or run without any device, just your head, your heart and your lungs…..try it once or twice, you will enjoy it, just remember to manually enter the TSS for that session, that info is still important.

You will realise that in the end the ultimate way to deal with this loss is to just go out and do that session again, and that wrenching pain of the 200km you rode will soon come right back.  Go on, grab some mates and show them how you nailed those segments, drilled the headwinds and railed the descents…’s just training after all.

At Foot Traffic Coaching we are self-confessed Data Junkies and Stravaphiles.  We love helping athletes who are all about the numbers and want to get the most of their time training to achieve those dream goals.  Pay us a visit to see how we can help you.




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