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8 Ways to Motivate Your Athletes To Upload Their Workout Data

BY Dave Schell

One of the biggest issues facing coaches is getting their athletes to upload their data on a regular basis. Try these 8 tips from TrainingPeaks Education Manager Dave Schell to get your athletes in the habit of uploading on a daily basis.

Despite the fact that TrainingPeaks has made it as easy as possible to upload data from most any device, works with multiple third-party APIs, and has manual logging options, we still continue to hear that two of the biggest challenges facing coaches today are getting athletes to upload data and getting athletes to consistently leave comments. Why is this? Why would athletes pay good money for a coach if they are not going to regularly upload data or leave comments?

Creating a Habit

After much consideration on this issue, I came to the conclusion that it is due to habit, or a lack thereof. Speaking from both my coaching and personal experience, I came to the realization that we are creatures of habit. In my own life, I started to notice that if something interrupted my personal routine of entering my metrics in the morning then it would not happen.

This led me to start researching habit and how I might be able to use it to my advantage. In Charles Duhigg’s fantastic book, The Power of Habit he identifies three key components to a habit:

  • The cue
  • The routine
  • The reward

I used this revelation to begin to examine how I might be able to exploit this using the tools in TrainingPeaks in order to get a desired behavior- consistently uploading and adding comments. I knew what the desired routine was, uploading and/or adding comments, the cue should be walking in the house after a completed workout, so I was left with the reward.


This lead me to consider what kind of reward I could offer to my athletes. In turn, I realized that it might not be the same for every athlete. My own unique characteristics as a coach would play into this as well.

The first question I asked myself was, “What kind of athlete is this?” Is this a beginner looking to complete their first event or an elite athlete looking for results? What is my coaching style? Am I a cheerleader that takes pride in encouraging athletes to do their best or am I more of a drill sergeant that uses a firm coaching style to get my athletes to perform to the best of their potential? Additionally, how data driven am I, what information do I need to effectively coach my athletes?

In the case of a beginner athlete, I find that Post-activity comments along with general recognition and encouragement motivates them, as does seeing their workouts on the calendar turn green. Intermediate athletes seem to be interested in seeing improvement as evidenced by new peak powers and/or pace, setting a new threshold, and seeing their Chronic Training Load (CTL) or fitness rise. The advanced athlete seems to appreciate immediate feedback on their key sessions.

If you find that despite your best efforts you are still not able to get your athlete to upload or leave comments, you might try some alternative methods such as:

  • Settling for less frequent uploads
  • Stop planning until the athlete uploads
  • Offering a discount on monthly coaching fees for consistent uploads/comments

Immediate Feedback

In the deliberate practice loop, we really see our role living in the immediate feedback quadrant. This can be automatically through Colorized Workouts by compliance, Post-workout Notifications, and Threshold Notifications.

Colorized Workouts

These let an athlete know that they are following the plan as prescribed. If the workout turns green it is within 20 percent of the prescribed duration, if it turns yellow it is over or under by more than 20 percent and if it turns red it is over or under by more than 50 percent, or more commonly not done at all.

Post-workout Notifications

Post-workout Notifications, (PWN’s) allow you to respond to your athletes within minutes providing them with immediate feedback and in turn, encouraging them to keep up the good work. You can receive these via email, in your TrainingPeaks Notification Center, or both.

Threshold Notifications

If your Threshold Notifications can be forwarded on to the athlete or posted in social media giving the athlete kudos for a job well done.

  • Heart Rate Threshold: We suggest a threshold increase if your Peak 60 Min OR 95% of your Peak 20 Minute Heart Rate (whichever is higher) is greater than the currently set threshold.
  • Power Threshold: We suggest a threshold increase if NP (Normalized Power) Peak 60 Minute OR 95 percent of your Average Peak 20 Minute Power (whichever is higher) is greater than the currently set threshold.
  • Pace Threshold (Run Only): We suggested a threshold if your Peak 45 Minute Average Pace is faster than the currently set threshold.

Other Forms of Feedback

Coaches can give feedback to athletes in other ways as well. While these methods may not be as immediate, they can still be very effective.

Mark Up Files

Create segments and annotate portions of a workout to let the athlete know you are looking at the file and let them know exactly what you are looking at.


A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a screenshot of a file or a dashboard chart and annotate it. Some examples might include a PMC with a climbing CTL or a graph showing a new peak power.

Contract and/or Service agreement

When you start working with an athlete have them sign an agreement stating that they will be required to upload/comment or else risk being ‘fired’.

Peer Pressure

If you coach a group and meet up for workouts you can use this time to call out the athletes who have been uploading and leaving comments as a way to motivate the other athletes to do the same.

As I wrote at the start, despite all of the technology getting athletes to consistently upload and leave comments continues to be one of a coach’s biggest pain points. These are some of the methods that have worked for me and some that I picked up from other coaches. I hope you can take one or more of these methods and apply them successfully to your own coaching.

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About Dave Schell

Dave Schell is the Director of Education at TrainingPeaks University. He coaches triathletes and cyclists of all levels from beginner to pro to achieve their highest potential. When Dave isn’t traveling the world teaching others how to better use TrainingPeaks, he’s trying hard not to fall off of his mountain bike.

Visit Dave Schell's Coach Profile