Understanding Training Peaks, a new Series from our European editor and cycling coach Ben Thomas. Part 1 discusses the various websites available to store and analyse your rides, and the differences between a free and premium Training Peaks account.
If you track your rides chances are you’ll be uploading to an online system, there’s so many good websites to choose from but making that choice depends on how you want to use the data you’re recording. Strava or Garmin Connect offer a fun way to review your rides and share them with friends. Both these systems offer some data analysis and graphs. Strava Summit (previously called Premium) now offers paid members a power curve and fitness & freshness curve. With these graphs you can track your fitness, form, fatigue and power, using Strava’s own algorithm they’ve created these 2 graphs which are very similar to 2 of the graphs Training Peaks provide premium members.
If you use a GPS from the market leader Garmin you’ll have a Garmin Connect account, whether you choose to log into the website or not it’ll still be there storing your uploaded rides and possibly syncing them with another website like Strava or Training Peaks. On the Garmin Connect website you can control your device settings, save and create courses and record health statistics. There’s a long list of graphs available including Training Status which tell you whether your current training is unproductive, recovery, productive, peaking, or overreaching. A useful feature if you’re trying to build for something specific, maybe a race or your first century ride.
Training Peaks is an online system designed for people wanting to structure their training and achieve sporting success maybe as an elite athlete, on the local club run, or chasing segments. There are Free and Premium (20 USD per month) options. The Free membership allows members to create goals, to sync with favourite apps or devices, view workouts and fitness summaries, connect with a coach, purchase training plans on the Training Plan Store and view recent peak performances.
The advantages of a Training Peaks Premium account include the ability to create an annual training plan, plan future workouts, track fatigue fitness and form, build and export structured workouts, advanced data analysis, create workout libraries and view all peak performances. You can use charts such as the power profile chart to pick out your weaknesses and then make improvements.
The Training Peaks Free membership is great for people who don’t want to plan their future training, these people might have a coach to do the work for them or just not be interested in the additional Premium data. 60% of my coaching clients use a Premium account although this result is influenced by my Platinum coaching service including a Training Peaks Premium upgrade.
If you sign up with a Training Peaks registered coach they’ll be able to control your Free or Premium Training Peaks account. They’ll be able to create an annual training plan for all your races or goals. They’ll be able to plan and schedule tailor made daily workouts including structured workouts which can be downloaded to a variety of devices. The coach has access to a huge variety of graphs which will help them create a training plan to improve your weakness and reach your goals.
If you aren’t ready to work with a coach but want some structure training then using a Training Peaks account gives you access to thousands of pre made training. Choose and pay for your plan which will then appear on your calendar. This could work well through the winter base or spring preparation period but if you have regular races throughout the summer you might find it better to be connected with a coach who can create a tailored training plan.
If you aren’t analysing the your ride data or planning training, registering with a coach or buying a training plan then a Garmin Connect or Strava account is probably going to offer you as much information as a Training Peaks Free account. However if you’ve already set your 2019 goals then a Training Peaks account could give some extra motivation, that edge over your competitors, and the motivation to reach sporting success.