Using a training diary is an athletes best friend when it comes to monitoring progress and maintaining accountability. TrainingPeaks online and mobile software makes this easier than ever. It allows us to be more effective as coaches when it comes to scheduling and monitoring an athletes daily training, and it helps athletes stay current on what they need to be doing day-to-day.
Below is a guide to optimizing your TrainingPeaks setup, and an overview of how to use some basic functionalities you’ll need while training.
Premium or Basic Account?
There are two types of account options available to athletes using TrainingPeaks. One is free (Basic), and the other is the paid version (Premium).
This is free for all users and works just fine for most athletes. It allows you to upload rides, make comments, connect to a coach, and review some basic charts.
Everything is the same as the Basic account, but you now get some additional features that you may or may not find valuable:
- Ability to add future workouts. This is great if you’re the type that takes frequent business trips, works on a rotating schedule, or just really like planning ahead. You can add your schedule into TrainingPeaks and your coach can build a program around it. There are other ways to do this without a Premium account, but this the easiest solution.
- Full dashboard access. If you’re the type that likes to look at numbers and analyze data then you may like this. Your coach can see all this data either way.
- Access to the ATP (Annual Training Plan). Your coach will manage this, so you don’t really need access to this unless you self-coach for part of the year and want to keep your ATP up to date.
- Personal Best Updates. This feature will notify you any time you hit a new PR with heart rate or power data. It’s sort of neat, but not needed.
- Post-activity comment emails. After you make a comment your coach will be sent an email. This is also another feature that isn’t required as your coach will review comments manually either in TrainingPeaks or in WKO4 at least once per week, and the flood of client emails isn’t a huge help. I personally recommend athletes reach out directly to their coach to ask questions or address any concerns when they arise. Having conversations through the TrainingPeaks comments section just isn’t very effective.
There may be a few more features available to Premium users that I missed, but those are the big ones. To summarize, if you’re the type that loves planning and analyzing data, the Premium account is probably right up your alley. If you’re more of a, “check the schedule and do the work – let coach handle the specifics” type of athlete, then the Basic account is probably your best bet. Regardless of which option you choose it won’t affect our ability to optimize the coach/athlete relationship.
Back in the day, uploading rides was sort of a pain. You had to wait until you could get to a computer, plug your device in, and then manually upload the file into TrainingPeaks. The obvious downside of this is that you needed a cord, a laptop, and time.
It doesn’t seem like that hard of a process, but finding 10 minutes to upload rides when you get home can sometimes be a pain, especially if immediately upon arrival your dog needs to go out to do their business, your child just pooped and needs a fresh diaper, and you still need to shower, make dinner, and clean up the house. Maybe not that exact situation, but I’m sure that situation resonated with somebody.
The inevitable result is that athletes upload all their rides late in the week (if at all) when they have some chill time. There were two big issues with this:
- Coaches can’t confidently build out your program without first reviewing data.
- Athletes end up forgetting a lot of details about how rides went throughout the week. This will make for some less than stellar post ride comments.
Part of the solution is to setup Auto-Syncing. It’s super easy with newer Bluetooth enabled Garmin Edge units and a smartphone. I’m sure other cycling computers have similar setups you can utilize, but the steps below will be written for Garmin users since they make up roughly 98.33% of our clientele base.
If you’re a new TrainingPeaks user that’s been using Garmin Connect for some time, I recommend checking the box that syncs all your past data. If you’ve been using TrainingPeaks and Garmin Connect separately for some time don’t hit that button or else you’ll get a lot of duplicate data.
Download Garmin Connect to your phone and setup Bluetooth Syncing.
That’s it! After a ride you’ll hit the save button, and as long as your phone is within reach it should automatically upload to both Garmin Connect and TrainingPeaks.
Optional Auto Syncing
If you’re using multiple training apps, such as Strava or MyFitnessPal, you can set those up from within those individual apps to automatically sync after rides as well.
An important part of keeping a diary is writing subjective notes about how you felt, both physically and mentally. Some athletes will write a short story after every big ride, and some will just write a couple basic notes. It doesn’t matter how much you write as long as you are consistently keeping notes.
It’s important to note that these notes aren’t just for the coach to review. They are a good method for helping an athlete keep tabs of their own training. When you write down “felt sluggish, workout was a bust”, a few days in a row it’s hard to ignore something is probably wrong and needs fixing (call coach!). If you don’t write anything it can be pretty easy to shrug it off and continuing down the wrong path.
Here’s how I recommend keeping consistent notes:
Download the TrainingPeaks Mobile App
This application is smooth on both operating systems and makes commenting easier than ever. After your ride has automatically uploaded, fire up the app and nagivate to the days workout. Hit the “edit” button and add some comments in the “post-activity comments” section.
Use the number system so that you have something to compare to down the road. Here is a very simple numbering system we recommend using:
0 – Workout was not completed. (i.e. skipped due to lack of time, injury, illness, etc.)
1 – Started the workout, but did not complete as planned. (i.e. you had intervals on the schedule, but just rode around easy because you weren’t feeling it)
2 – Complete the workout mostly as planned. (i.e. you did all the intervals, but wasn’t able to hit the wattage/time goals for whatever reason).
3. – Nailed the workout as planned.
Add context to the numbers with a few basic comments (or a long comment if that’s your thing). Here’s a few examples:
“2 – felt good for first half of ride, but fell a bit short on my wattage goals in the second half. I think my nutrition may have been off?”
“0 – Started to ride, but felt sick and turned back home after 5 minutes. Might be coming down with a cold”
“3 – Crushed this workout. I’m basically a golden god”
A few comments in addition to the number system is a powerful tool for keeping track of your training and helping your coach better understand what’s going on. A power/HR file can certainly tell a story, but that story is 10x better with some comments to go with it.
Keeping a diary is beneficial for both athlete and coach alike, and setting yourself up to easily and effectively use TrainingPeaks as part of your daily training is an important step for all athletes working with Move Up Endurance Coaching.
TrainingPeaks allows you as an athlete to see planned training sessions, review data, and keep a digital diary of your day-to-day training. For Move Up coaches this software allows us to seamlessly plan your training on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis. It also allows us to collect data and easily analyze it to better monitor whether or not your on the right track to achieve your goals.
If you every have questions on using TrainingPeaks please comment below or message us directly for assistance.