8 training planning and analysis platform options: overviews and interviews | EP#156

​​​​​8 training planning and analysis platform options: overviews and interviews | EP#156

Short-form interviews with the major and up-and-coming training planning and analysis platforms in the triathlon industry. Each company gets to pitch their product, describe the main features and benefits they offer, and explain what makes them unique and stand out among the competition. This episode will help you decide which platform is right for  planning, logging, and analysing your triathlon training.

Discuss this episode!

  • Let's discuss this episode and the topic in general. Post any comments or questions in the comments at the bottom of the shownotes. Join the discussion here!

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Azum
  • TrainingPeaks
  • Gutaï
  • Today's Plan
  • FinalSurge
  • Train Xhale
  • SportsTracks
  • TrainerRoad

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Shownotes

About today's episode

4:02  -

  • Today's topic is training planning and analysis software. This is basically an online training log. 

    It allows you to plan your training in advance, and do some online analysis of your workouts. 
  • You can analyse basic things such as hours trained that week, to more complex areas such as the power of an interval. 
  • I have decided to focus on platforms not tied to any specific hardware. 

    For example, Garmin Connect can perform this role, but only if you have a Garmin device. Similarly Polar and Suunto have their own platforms for their devices. 
  • I haven't personally used all of these platforms, but I wanted to help listeners get a sense of what is out there. 
  • The decision of which software to go with is not going to have a significant impact on how you perform in races - all of them should do what you need to train effectively. 

    Make an initial decision and try it out, and if it doesn't work, switch to something else! 
  • The one thing you can't skip is actually doing the training, so make sure this doesn't cut into that time! 
  • That said, it does help if you have a platform you enjoy and that is intuitive to you. 

Azum

7:23 -

What are the best features of Azum?

  • Azum system is the perfect platform for anyone who loves training planning. It offers an efficient and detailed way to create the best training plans, making even complex sessions easy to structure.

    The platform helps with everything to do with coaching, from athlete management to sending invoices to clients.
  • Our motto is 'focus on coaching, Azum system will take care of the rest'.
  • We have self-coaching accounts and coaching accounts. There are not many differences between them, but the main difference is the ability to manage athletes in the coaching account. 
  • Our platform is ideal for training planning. You can create all the exercise templates you can imagine - there are no restrictions regarding sports. 
  • We have a training generator tool where you can create single exercises, or training plans up to a year. You can add all the information you want in the description and it helps save valuable time.

    You can even add videos for additional information. 

    If you're an athlete you can create your own exercises which you can re-use, or easily adjust later. 
  • In our experience, other platforms are often limited in the sports they offer. 

    We not only offer swim, bike and run, but also athletic training and any other sports to ensure dynamic training.
  • You can also generate rehab training sessions if you are injured. We have a lot of customers from the physiotherapy background for this purpose. 

Why should an athlete switch to Azum?

  • Other platforms often have pre-scripted training plans if you're aiming for a specific goal. They also often calculate your heart rate/exertion zones on more common analytical methods. 
  • However with Azum, you have the freedom to adjust every detail - whether that is your heart rate, your watts or your FTP. 
  • You also have a more private platform, but if you're working with a coach they still have a dashboard where they can monitor your performance though.

Why should a coach switch to Azum?

  • With Azum you get high levels of control: you can create groups of certain athletes and see their upcoming goals and events at a glance. 
  • You can notified by email alerts about your athletes events, so you never forget them. 
  • If you have a coaching business there are ways to promote your business through Azum.

    You can create teaser training plans which can be used as advertisement. E.g. a teaser plan for running 10KM in 40 minutes. 
  • Everything in Azum is linked to your calendar.
  • We also have links with Insight, a new physiological analytic tool of performance. The data you get from here can be input into the Azum software. 

Cost & trials offered

  • We offer free trials for athletes and coaches - you can test both accounts if you'd like. The trial period is 2 weeks. 

    Athletes get a choice of a few training templates, or use it to create your own sessions. 
  • For coaches, it costs 29 CHF (25 EUR, 29 USD) per month to coach three athletes. For every additional athlete costs an additional 9 Swiss Franks (8 EUR, 9 USD). 
  • For athletes, it costs 9 CHF (8 EUR, 9 USD) per month. 

To find out more

TrainingPeaks

19:10 -

  • TrainingPeaks is a Colorado based company founded by Joe Friel 

What are the best features of TrainingPeaks?

  • TrainingPeaks is a set of online and mobile applications that help athletes plan, track and analyse their training to prepare for any endurance event. 
  • TrainingPeaks is the easiest way to work with a coach anywhere in the world. 
  • If you're not ready to commit to a coach you can choose from many training plans developed by coaches in the training plan store.
  • If you want to do it yourself, you can use TrainingPeaks planning and analysis tools to determine your own strengths and weaknesses, and plan and track your training. 
  • If you are a coach, it's the best tool for delivering expert construction and running your coaching business with endurance athletes all over the world. 
  • The main benefit of TrainingPeaks is that it works in the way any athlete wants to train in the world, 

    Whether they're self-coached, coacher, beginner, professional, time-crunched, high volume periodisation etc. 

    TrainingPeaks has all the planning and analysis tools needed for any of those. 
  • Whatever device you're using to record your data, TrainingPeaks is compatible with basically all of them. 
  • All of the planned workouts in TrainingPeaks can be executed on more and more products all the time (e.g. Garmin, Zwift etc). 
  • You can keep your training history even if you switch from a TrainingPeaks training plan, to self-coached, to coached. 

Why should you switch to TrainingPeaks?

  • The variety of ways that you can receive expert instructions is.

    The most advanced analytics in the world aren't useful if they can help you make a decision about what to do next.

    Training has to fit into your life and everything else going on, and this often takes a human looking at your data to decide where to go next. 

    Whether that human is a coach or yourself, TrainingPeaks provides enough tools to help make those decisions. 
  • If you want to dig into the data and learn everything about your performance, this platform is perfect. 
  • TrainingPeaks has a tool where you can find the best coach for you based on your experience.

    All you then have to do is the training part, which can be ideal for time-crunched athletes. 
  • You can now also record RPE and 'smiley faces' to show how you found the session - this qualitative information can be really beneficial when monitoring training. 

Is there any ideal athlete that TrainingPeaks is suited for?

  • Athletes that realise collecting and analysing data is pretty necessary for achieving their best, but they aren't spending loads of time on it just for fun. 

Price & free trials

  • There's always a free basic version that lets you log and keep data forever - even if you upgrade or downgrade. 
  • The premium version for triathletes starts at $19 for a single month, or $120 for a year. 
  • You can work with a coach using the free or premium version. 
  • When you create an account, you get 2 free weeks of premium.
  • If you want to try out premium for a bit longer, or tried it a while ago and have forgotten what it's like, they can use the code 'THATTRISHOW' on the checkout page and that will give them 30 days of free premium.

To find out more 

Gutaï

29:51 - 

What are the best features of Gutaï?

  • The philosophy is that training is a personal matter, and your optimal training is not necessarily the same as others. 

    Pedalling faster, running further or swimming longer is not always the best solution.

    Your body is unique in terms of it's strengths and weaknesses, so your training must be too. 
  • Gutaï analyses your capacities and the way you train in the smallest details, to define how your body works and the training that best suits you. 
  • We believe that it's not up to your body to adapt to your training, Gutaï adapts your training to your body. 
  • Being well prepared means getting your body in the best condition to ensure you achieve your goal. 
  • We have two big components:

    Training component
    Monitoring & analysing component
  • In the training component, you choose your goal and we propose plans with varying timelines (8 weeks/12 weeks etc). 

    You choose whether to include strength sessions, and your ability level. 
  • In your training programme, the intensities are very personal and are given based on the conditions where you train.

    For example, if you're cycling in the mountains versus the flat, or swimming in open water or a pool, the intensities will change. 
  • The second component - monitoring and analysis - is very accurate. 

    We do a cross reference of external variables (e.g. speed, temperature etc) to understand the environment. 

    We also do a cross reference at the training plan level - with other training sessions by looking at your heart rate recovery, perceived exertion and wellness evaluation.

    You can have similar observations heart rate that mean positive or negative things, which is why we use the other factors to give more information. 

    We do this to limit the occurrence of fatigue in your preparation. 
  • We do a training load quantification which is based on research recommendations.

    We cross reference acute and chronic training load. We consider the training volume and the RPE for each athlete. We analyse chronic training load over 4 weeks, and compare it to the previous week.

    This is done automatically in the platform - you have nothing to do to avoid injury or prevent over-training. 
  • The next step for Gutaï is to combine the two main components so that the monitoring and analysis takes place, and feeds into the adaptation and development of the training plan. 
  • Training plans are currently chosen through picking: discipline, distance, weekly volume, number of sessions during the week, if you have a power sensor or not, if you want a test period, if you want strength sessions, what your ability level is. 

What should an athlete switch to Gutaï?

  • We cross three main competencies: the field experience, scientific recommendations and artificial intelligence. 

    This means we can best prepare programmes for athletes, and it leads to increasing personalisation of the training plan. 

Prices & trials

  • We have four packs:

    Basic pack = free
    Premium pack = 9 EUR/month
    Training pack  = 19 EUR/month
    Coaching pack = 120 EUR/month
  • When you begin with the basic pack you train by yourself and will have some analysis.

    The higher you go up the pack levels the more features and training analysis will become available. 

To find out more

Today's Plan

40:59 - 

What are the best features of Today's Plan?

  • Today's Plan is a platform that has training tools for athletes, coaches and industry partners via managed cloud environments. 
  • It's a modern and highly configurable platform that will provide the best efficiency to each of these groups. 
  • From an athlete's perspective, Today's Plan provides the tools that let the athlete train for their chosen sport,
  • Athletes can view as much or as little data as they wish to prescribe and track their progress. 
  • Athletes can use different forms of sport science, and can choose from a range of training plans from the plan generator.

    There is also a workout library with over 3,000 workouts. 
  • We let people choose the way that they measure - e.g. in running you could use heart rate based algorithms, pace based algorithms or running power (e.g. Stryd's Running Stress Score). We're providing a choice to people based on the way they make the best progress. 
  • We have an algorithm called Performance Index (PI) that's unique to the site. 

    It's for cyclists with power metres, and it gives the cyclist a single number between 0-900. It lets people track their progress across 8 different time durations on their power curve, according to one number. 

    It's about simplifying the question 'am I improving' without too many detailed analytics. 

    We developed it in collaboration with Dr Daniel Green, a sports scientist in Cambre. He's worked for several world tour teams so he knows his stuff! 
  • From a coaching perspective, Today's Plan is a technology partner that lets you coach your athletes in the way you want to. 
  • Coaches can configure the site exactly to their needs - it's about their company, their branding.
  • For industry partners we are a technology platform that supports leading brands in industry. 
  • We're about turning data into actionable information. 
  • It's not about objective data, how an athlete feels is also important. We've led the way on subjective ratings in our site.

    You can fill in ratings each day to track how you feel, and the site allows you to aggregate the objective and subjective data and see the trends in your training. 

Why you should switch to Today's Plan?

  • Our platform is large in terms of capability - you'll find everything you can get on other platforms and more, and it suits every level of athlete, from beginners to the world's best. 
  • You can combine the objective and subjective data you collect, which gives a full picture of how you are doing. 
  • The static multisport plan library is growing all the time, and we try to have plans that cover the most common events and athlete levels. 

    We have around 100 plans so far. 

    Often if an athlete is aiming for a specific event, the people who write our plans like Jim Vance, can make plans for certain events. 
  • We'll be adding more to our plans in the next 6 weeks in preparation for the next season. 
  • In the cycling space, our plan generator makes totally unique plans. 

Prices and trials

  • We have two pricing levels: 

    1) Tools and analytics (access to workout library, analytics and training tools): $12/month, $99/year. 
    2) The above plan PLUS training plan generator for cycling, and static plans for multi sport: $17/month. 
  • We offer a 7-day trial which is the higher level, and you can bring data over from other platforms to see if you like it. 

To find out more

FinalSurge 

52:36 - 

What are the best features of FinalSurge?

  • FinalSurge is totally free for athletes to use, and we don't have premium features for athletes to upgrade to. 
  • We have everything our competition has: you can set up power zones, pace zones, synch your log with Garmin/Strava etc.
  • From a coaching perspective we're also very low cost. 

    We decided to go for a fixed fee, rather than charge per athlete. If you have 5 athletes or less it's $19/month, and that's the only fee you ever pay. 

    If you have a large coaching business you can coach up to 100 athletes for $39/month. 
  • FinalSurge is simple to use and very intuitive. 
  • In the June 2018 issue of triathlon magazine, we won the award for online training log face off. 
  • We have all the metrics that you'd expect about your workout data. We have partnered with some specific companies such as Stryd so we show all the running dynamic power data. 

    We also show everything other training devices may collect, such as your Garmin, or bike power meters. 
  • We sync with some other platforms such as The Sufferfest, and we'll be announcing more partnerships later this year. 
  • We haven't focused on the raw data as much, our big focus is on the communication aspect between coaches and athletes. 

    The first thing the coach wants to know is how did you feel and what was your perceived effort? 

    We've put a focus on this information and made it simple for the coach to get that feedback, and they can then respond immediately. 
  • We also have a pain and injury report, which we worked on some physical therapists with. 

    The interface is very intuitive, and it allows an athlete to give a coach immediate feedback as soon as they've finished their workout. 
  • If you're self-coached, we do offer training plans developed by world class coaches that you can purchase. 

    We worked with Hansens, Greg Mcmillan, Marc Allen, Iron Cowboy and many others. 

    We have plenty of plans going from your first 5K to your 10 Ironman!
  • Our platform is very customisable, you can create your own activity types for example. 

    We have sports outside of the endurance sports area that are using our platform - e.g. soccer, marshal arts, even horse training. 

Why should you switch to FinalSurge?

  • We can probably save you money! 
  • You can tell that an athlete and coach built this - my business partner and I have known each other since college and both have business backgrounds, and I've been an endurance athlete my whole life. 

    I was a professional triathlete for a year with the Timex multisports team, and after that I got into coaching.

    This sets us apart because we have great ideas but we also know how to execute it and we developed the whole platform ourselves.
  • It was important for us that it made sense from an athlete and coaching standpoint. 
  • We're launching our new Beta web platform on October 19th. 

Prices & trials

  • Free for athletes. 
  • For coaches, the price depends on number of athletes:

    5 athletes or less: $19/month
    Up to 100 athletes: $39/month
  • We also offer coaches a free 14 day trial. 

To find out more 

Train Xhale 

1:03:47 - 

Related listening

  • The Brick Session podcast - created by Mark Livesey, who also developed Train Xhale 


What are the best features of Train Xhale?

  • We've generated a platform that we've built specifically for triathlon coaches and athletes who are self-coached. 
  • We've created something that is simple and intuitive which can save athletes time, as we know age-groupers are often time starved. 
  • If you track your training in a notepad, we're essentially a computer version of that - and we're trying not to get too technical. 
  • We take great pride in listening to athletes and coaches that use our platform, and we utilise ideas that we receive from our users. 

    For example: A large German coaching company asked us to do an instant messaging system that could be done via the platform and the app. That communication is now on the platform so it doesn't get lost or forgotten. 

    This is how we're developing our platform - feedback from the athletes and coaches that use it. 
  • We also promote coaches on Xhale coaching website

Why should you switch to Train Xhale?

  • We didn't start this business to compete - Train Xhale came about for me (Mark) and my own personal use. At the time, 5 years ago, there wasn't any real option other than TrainingPeaks. 

    I wasn't comfortable with that format as it didn't fit my coaching style. 

    Personally I'm not a fan of algorithms that make predictions on an athletes performance.
  • For me, it's about developing a relationship with the athlete, and trying to make sure you know each other intuitively. 

    TrainingPeaks didn't allow me to do this with my athletes.
  • This is my own personal style, and I know many coaches that do use TrainingPeaks and do really like it. 
  • We're not trying to be better, we're trying to be different. 
  • There are two versions of Train Xhale if you're not coached: we have a free option and a premium option. 

    The premium option makes things a bit quicker and easier to use, and you get access to more of the analysis tools. 

    You can create segments after the fact, rather than just relying on the laps your device makes. 

    We also have a periodisation calendar. 
  • On premium, if you give us an email and let us know what race you're doing, Mark will send you a generic training plan. 

    This gives you a basis to get started, and you can then edit it as needed. 

Prices & trials

  • Basic account: free 
  • Premium account (can be paid in any currency: $4.79/4.49 EUR/£2.99 
  • Coaching account (based per athlete): $6.99/5.99 EUR + VAT/£4.99

    If you have 10 athletes or more you have a 10% discount, 15 athletes you get a 15% athlete

To find out more

SportTracks

1:16:52

What are the best features of SportTracks?

  • Sports Tracks is an advanced analytics platform for endurance athletes and coaches. We're known for being powerful but easy to use. 

    If you want to dive down into the data you can, but if you want to take a step back and do it at your pace you can. 
  • We allow tracking from a wide variety of devices, and we enable the users to edit their workouts - e.g. trim things, split things up etc. 
  • We support new metrics that come out, such as running efficiency. 
  • We try and get an idea of what the users want, for example if there's a new data coming out and users seem to want to include it, we'll find a way to do that. 
  • We also have training load and performance prediction charts, as well as other ways to analyse your data. 
  • We now pull in connect IQ data - we're finding new stuff all the time that people are using. 
  • We have both athlete and coach accounts. If you're paying for SportTracks yourself, you can invite your coach and they'll be able to coach you on the platform without paying for it themselves.

    This also works the other way around - as a professional coach you can sponsor your athletes in SportTracks and give them their own profile, but the client doesn't have to pay. 

Why should you switch to SportTracks?

  • SportTracks has a lot of power but it really tries to keep operations as easy as possible for the users. 
  • The people that choose us typically want to be able to get their planning done quickly, but they can then do some deep analysis when they have more time. 
  • Our customers are definitely still data junkies! 
  • We have premium features like weather integration which is gathered using the GPS from your exercise files. 

    You can sort your workouts based on this weather to see any trends. 
  • We have a swim analysis with tools such as elevation correction. 

    If you're swimming with an advanced swim watch, you'll get to see our custom designed charts to help analyse your swim data. 
  • There is no upsell, there's no advertisements or distractions on the platform. It's focused on your performance. 

Price & trials

  • SportTracks is $59/year.
  • We offer a 45 day free trial (no risk, so no payment information entered). You can bring your entire workout history into this. 

To find out more

TrainerRoad

1:26:46

Related listening

  • TrainerRoad have their own podcast: Ask a cycling coach podcast, which is well worth a listen!
  • There are recent episodes recorded in Kona interviewing triathletes who used TrainerRoad to achieve their goals. 

What are the best features of TrainerRoad?

  • We make cyclists faster!
  • If you want to use science and structure to become as fast as possible, as efficiently as possible in the least amount of time, TrainerRoad is for you.
  • We do this through structured workouts, training plans and analytics programme which is on iOS, Android, Mac and PC. 
  •  We focus on power based cycling and training - having a power meter on your bike which allows you to be objective about your training. 
  • There is now a lot of science about what power you should train at, what length your intervals and rest should be, and how you should build your season to peak for an event. 

    We package all that science and put it in an easy to use platform. 
  • We have a workout player, which is an app, and you sign up and do a ramp test. This gives you approximately what your FTP should be. 

    We then structure all of your workouts to your fitness level. 
  • Depending what type of rider you are, we'll have you work on different energy systems. 
  • We're all about progressive load - starting slower and building up. 
  • This has been the core of our brand, but we've recently launched two other parts. 
  • One if performance analytics which is a programme to analyse your workouts. 

    We try and give you everything you need but nothing you don't need in terms of metrics. 
  • One unique aspect is personal records, and inside that we have seasons. 

    Instead of just personal records such as 1 minute power, 5 minute power etc, we do it by second. 

    for example if you do a half Ironman bike in 2 hours 34 minutes, this can be recorded exactly.
  • With seasons, you can plan in when you want to start and peak, and compare it to other 'seasons'. 

    You can then check if you're reaching the right power targets. 
  • The second part we launched was a training calendar. 

    It syncs all your workouts from Garmin and Strava. You can also plan other workouts such as running, swimming or strength sessions. 
  • You can do everything you'd expect to do in a calendar, but also mark certain events as racing and see your training stress score evolve. 
  • You can do annotations, where you note things about the day/week etc such as 'I was unwell this week'. 
  • Right now you have to mark run and swim sessions as complete, and type in your TSS, but we're working on making this able to pull them in automatically. 
  • We also have triathlon plans that have runs and swims built in which you can put on your calendar. 
  • In a couple of weeks we will have individual training stress data for each discipline, which you can compare to previous time periods. 

Cycling software in TrainerRoad

  • We follow a base build and specialty idea. You work on your base for 12 weeks, then your build, then your specialty. 
  • For triathletes we have sprint, Olympic and Ironman training plans for each of these parts of the season.

    You pick how much volume you can take (e.g. 6 hours, 8-10 hours), and then you adjust the plan in your calendar. 
  • We have a tool coming out where you pick your A event, and we put in the blocks for you. 
  • A lot of tools we're building in the future are about how we can be more reactive to the person, and adjust the training based on what happens. 

    We don't want to the person to have to become a data scientist, we want the system to tell them what to do. 

What does it look like when you follow a structured workout?

  • This is a key difference between us and other platforms: our interface is designed to be very simple. 
  • There's research around cognitive load that suggests the more you have to think when you're working out, the higher the RPE is. 

    Due to this, the workout system is basic: you see your power, target power, heart rate, cadence and a graph that shows a time based workout where you try to hit targets. 

    We give people cadence drills, instructions and motivational texts throughout it. 
  • Depending on the intensity of the ride, you can do different things for entertainment:

    If it's a recovery or aerobic ride, you could watch TV. 
    Once you get into the sweet spot, or above, you can maybe watch cyclocross races or other cycling videos.

    Higher than that, you should listen to up tempo music. There's research that shows this can reduce your RPE. 
  • We don't do entertainment because we think the entertainment industry will always beat us. Between YouTube, Netflix, Hulu etc, they're great! 

    Once you need the entertainment, music has been shown to be the best anyway. 

Why should someone switch to TrainerRoad?

  • If you look at our forum, you can ask the question there and see what others who use the platform think. 
  • Our platform is known to make cyclists faster. If you want to feel entertained or feel like you worked hard, you can use other platforms.

    We only care about you doing more watts at a higher level and peaking for your events. 

Prices & trials

  • TrainerRoad costs $15/month or $129/year.
  • We have a 30 day money back guarantee - so you can free trial it for 30 days. 

To find out more

Links, resources and contact

Links and resources mentioned

    Connect with host Mikael Eriksson

    triathlon_coach_mikael_eriksson

    Hi! I'm your host Mikael,

    I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.

    I first started the website Scientific Triathlon in autumn 2015 as a passion project to share my learnings with a larger triathlon audience. Later on, in early 2017 I started the podcast That Triathlon Show. 

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