When it comes to logging, tracking and sharing “training data” there really are no shortage of options! As you might expect they all offer a slightly different focus and therefore provide you with different value. For many people, it is about building the right “eco-system” of apps and software. This post offers you my thoughts as to where / how TrainingPeaks fits into your potential training eco-system.
Why TrainingPeaks in a sentence
Because you have decided you want to get organised!
What follows gets into the weeds of what is possible. But in practice this all becomes transparent and super easy to do. If you work with an online Coach then of course it gets even easier. But either way…
The main differentiator for TrainingPeaks is to plan ahead what training you want to achieve over a week, month or year. In other words it has a “forward focus”. But equally it then tracks your actuals against your plan. Just having a plan immediately makes you more accountable (even if you are self-coaching) and ultimately means you are FAR MORE likely to get a particular session done. And that means you are FAR MORE likely to make progress.
Strava and Garmin (to name but two) are brilliant places to store what you have done and to build an archive of your training. Strava of course going one step further and providing motivation through social engagement (something that TP does not attempt, albeit it also provides an archive of performance).
With TrainingPeaks you record what you did, but really importantly it is compared to what you SAID you would do, or what was PLANNED. Important point here is that you can build your own training plan, or if you are being coached (by me for instance) all of your training sessions appear for you when you open your calendar (they are also emailed to you each day, appear on your device automatically and can even popup in your normal calendar – so each day you know what you are supposed to be doing!).
Consolidating your data
I LOVE data! And I tend to generate quite a lot of it… Performance data from run / bike / swim sessions, calorie and macro nutrient data from my food diary and of course weight from my digital scales.
TrainingPeaks offers a large library of integrations, allowing you to consolidate all of your fitness related data and be able to see it in a contextual manner. I have my Garmin account connected so each workout is automatically uploaded. I have Zwift connected so if I race or train on there and don’t use Garmin I still get the data. I use MyFitnessPal as my food diary and thats connected. Finally, I am a great believer that weighing yourself is more helpful than looking in the mirror, if you want quantifiable and meaningful data. To that end, I have my Whittings app hooked up to TrainingPeaks too. Net result everything synchs seamlessly and data capture is zero hassle. The key though is capturing what happened and then overlaying it against the plan.
Two Way Street
Whilst talking about data sharing, it is worth noting that session plans created in TrainingPeaks can also be sent to the appropriate platforms. This is more helpful than it first seems, as we are all increasingly using an eco-system rather than a single vendor approach.
Typically I would have pre-planned run sessions synch with my Garmin Watch and bike sessions synch with Zwift. There is something very convenient about just pressing a button “start workout” and then following the instructions!
The Bigger Picture
If you have an interest in becoming more organised and progressing your fitness, you almost certainly have a goal in mind. TrainingPeaks is not only great for managing your detailed training at a weekly and monthly level, but it is equally strong as a planning tool for your year. Your Annual Training Plan lets you quickly set milestones and build a high-level view of what you need to do, and where you need to be, at certain points. Again, its the old maximum about planning to succeed.
Typically the ATP is built around events (races or challenges), but you could equally well set your goals to be a personal best over a certain distance by a given date.
Is there anything it’s NOT good at???
YES! Strength & Conditioning workouts.
If you are principally interested in lifting weights and training in a gym then TrainingPeaks is not the platform for you. If you are a runner, cyclist or triathlete that incorporates S&C then it’s OK (but not great!). I am a big believer in the importance of S&C and always include these sessions in my TrainingPeaks plan.
The disappointment is that it really makes no effort to gauge TSS from these sessions. They will have an effect on your fatigue and fitness (obviously!) but it’s not going to be reflected in TrainingPeaks. Nor is it possible to write an S&C workout (in any useful way) within TrainingPeaks.
My “hack” around this is that I write the session in an old skool Excel Spreadsheet and attach it to the workout in TrainingPeaks. In addition I can attach images of any exercises I feel a client may not be familiar with. If you are writing your own plans then you could put your workout in as a comment (sets and reps). It’s not ideal, but it is workable and it’s not a disaster!
This sounds expensive. Hit me with it…
You can register and create a basic account with TrainingPeaks for FREE!
As with all “freemium” software, you don’t get the full fat version for free (mostly around some advanced analytics), but you DO get enough for FREE to help you get organised and work with a Coach. Or indeed enter your own training plan and monitor your progress.
The Premium account is $120 per annum. Although similar to most Coaches, if you subscribe to one of my Online Coaching Programmes, I will upgrade your basic account to a Premium account within the cost of your monthly Coaching fee.
If you have a goal, give it a go!
Ultimately, if you have any kind of goal in mind (from charity event, race or indeed getting fitter) then you really have nothing to lose by getting a free account and getting organised.
I will be writing more “how to” articles, or you can book a 1:1 session with me to help you get set up and organised.