I’ve spent the past 11 years training as a professional triathlete, and over that time my thoughts on training, recovery and diet have changed. Influencers can range from an in-person discussion to an article in a health and wellness magazine. However, I’ve found that research findings have improved my training regimen more than any of the other influencers.

One of the biggest issues triathletes face is travel. It’s a disruption to our training but is an essential part of the profession. Research shows that most people need one day per time zone crossed to fully recover and adjust to a time change. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. Knowing how your body operates is critical, and that’s where research comes in handy!

Going into the 2016 season, I will be racing in Abu Dhabi; Gold Coast, Australia; and then Yokohama, Japan. In order to speed up my recovery time, my coach requires me to get regular blood work done so we can monitor my nutrient and bio marker levels. We then compare this data against previous readings and adjust my diet if necessary. The data we’ve collected shows that I can dramatically increase my adjustment time if I exercise in sunlight and eat smaller meals. We’ve also used the data from my blood work to determine the exact time I need to eat.

Research has helped me improve my training by giving me the insights I need to understand how my body adjusts and operates. In addition to mapping out recovery and food intake, I’ve also begun measuring my hemoglobin through a finger-based device. This allows me to track oxygen flow and determine whether I need to adjust the intensity of my workouts.

Research and data are integral to how athletes train and execute, and it’s just as important in other industries. You can exercise as hard as you want, but if you aren’t paying attention to the data your workouts and body produces, you are just shortchanging yourself. For more information on research and how it can help you understand behaviors in your industry, check out the Millennial Running Study“Survey Says” vs. Research and How Research Creates Solutions.