Ultimate Get Started Guide

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Welcome to TrainingPeaks! We’re excited to be a part of your training journey! This guide is a brief outline of how TrainingPeaks works. We created TrainingPeaks based on a proven training concept that has four steps: Setting a goal; Getting Expert Instruction; Executing Specific Training, and Getting Immediate Feedback. It may seem like the best athletes advance effortlessly, but the progression isn’t magic—it’s the result of following the four steps to success. We’ll show you exactly how to use each step in your training with TrainingPeaks.

Ultimate Get Started Guide

Set a Specific Goal

If you’ve found TrainingPeaks, chances are you’re training for something, or at least have thought about training for something. 

Maybe you just signed up for your first marathon or maybe you’re trying to get a new personal record. Maybe you’re gunning for an IRONMAN™ podium—or maybe you just lost a bet and now you have to sign up for that mountain bike stage race you’ve had on your bucket list. Even if your goal is just to get healthier or keep up with your kids, we’re here to help.

When choosing a goal, the key is to make it ambitious enough to be motivating while realistic enough to be reachable. You can choose goals based on specific results at events; or based on processes or performance metrics you want to improve. Most coaches will recommend creating a variety of goals in different categories, so you can maintain a sense of purpose and progress no matter how your season goes. For example, if you get a flat and miss that podium, maybe you can refocus on a mental goal, or on nailing your nutrition plan.

Here are some great resources on goal-setting if you want to go deeper:

How to Set Real Goals 

Frame your Goals for an Extraordinary Season

Use the Power of 3 to reach Your Goals

Once you’ve settled on a direction, it’s time to add your goals to your TrainingPeaks calendar. To add an event to the calendar, click the + on the event day and a box will pop up allowing you to select different activities – Select Event. 

Name it, and mark what type of event it is. Next, choose your event sport type from the drop-down menu that appears. The last step is to choose goals for your Event. Click ‘goals’ and choose from predetermined goals supplied by TrainingPeaks – finishing the event, for instance – or write one your own. Then click Save. Your event is now officially on your TrainingPeaks calendar!

 

Get Expert Instruction

No athlete succeeds on their journey alone; we all benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.  

Think about it this way: whenever you have a training question, where do you turn? Chances are you’ve already found some expert instruction through books, online, or even with a coach.

TrainingPeaks offers all the best training resources all in one place—you can choose a training plan, get matched with a coach, or go DIY with support from our online content library. There’s a wealth of knowledge and experience available, all from the TrainingPeaks platform.  

Get a Training Plan

One of our most popular options is to choose a prebuilt training plan which will automatically apply progressive workouts to your TrainingPeaks calendar. The TrainingPeaks Training Plan Store offers thousands of plans built by real coaches and designed to prepare you for any event. You can sort through plans by sport, experience level, time constraints, and budget. 

If you’re not currently using structured training, you will improve more with a training plan than you will by making up your workouts or following the ‘no-pain-no-gain’ philosophy. Following a structured plan will ensure that you’re getting the right ratio of intensity, endurance, and rest, and can help you peak at the right time for your goal event.   

But prebuilt training plans do have drawbacks. First and foremost, once applied to your calendar, these types of training plans are continuous, which means they do not accommodate your changing schedule. They also operate on certain assumptions that might not be true for you. For example, most training plans put long workouts on the weekends, but that might not be feasible with your schedule. Finally, you ultimately have to figure out if you executed the workout properly, which means that you’ll be responsible for analyzing your workouts and tracking your metrics. 

If you’re already comfortable with tracking workouts, have a regular schedule, and prefer to be independent with your training, then a prebuilt training plan might be a great solution for you. But if you prefer a more personalized touch, you may decide to enlist the help of a coach.

Hire a Coach

Finding a coach can be intimidating—it’s a big deal to trust someone with your goals, successes, and failures, and sometimes it takes a few tries before you find the right match for you. TrainingPeaks is here to simplify the process, with our extensive coach directory and personalized coach match service. We want you to find the right expert to help you train for one simple reason: we believe that working with a coach is the best way to achieve success. 

Coaches create a plan tailored specifically to your goals and needs, unlike a prebuilt training plan which is made for the general demands of many athletes. Your coach can adjust your workouts when life comes up, and you don’t have to decide how to change your plan to stay on track. 

Most importantly, your coach will provide feedback and answer any questions you might have. Athletes are always their own greatest blindspot, no matter how experienced you are, it is extremely difficult to train and evaluate your training at the same time. Training does not occur in a vacuum. Athletes are human beings, vulnerable to cognitive biases and emotional reactions that often lead to poor training decisions that negatively impact training progression. A coach’s steadying influence during the training process can make all the difference.

Personalized coaching, like any methodology, has some drawbacks. Coaching can be expensive, and just because an athlete pays for a coach doesn’t mean the athlete-coach relationship will be productive. A flourishing athlete-coach relationship requires both the athlete and coach to communicate well and build trust, all of which take time and effort from both parties.

To give yourself the best chance of success, we recommend thinking about how much communication you’ll expect from your coach, how much analysis you’ll want for your training, and what other factors (like location, gender, expertise) are important to you. If you’re feeling stumped, our Coach Match service is a great place to start.

Coach Yourself

The last form of Expert Instructions is self-coaching or doing it on your own. Athletes are self-coach by taking advice from other athletes, reading books, forums, or watching YouTube videos, all of which provide information to inform their training.

Experienced, motivated, and disciplined athletes may also prefer to coach themselves. To support athletes who choose this route, TrainingPeaks offers a variety of expert resources both within the app and through our content platforms. Whether you’re seeking an answer to a specific question or looking for ways to expand your knowledge and experiment with your training, expert instruction is a key part of even the self-coached athlete’s success.  

Our TrainingPeaks Training Guides are an excellent resource for self-coached athletes. Enter your event date and your email and we’ll send you step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for the event. We break up every aspect of preparation and serve up advice from experienced coaches on the TrainingPeaks system.

Another excellent resource for self-coached athletes is the TrainingPeaks athlete blog. The blog contains hundreds of articles from seasoned coaches on every aspect of getting fit for an event. We’ve split the content up by sport and topic to make it easier to find what you’re looking for. 

Lastly, we also offer the TrainingPeaks CoachCast, which offers a wealth of information about training and racing for events through interviews with some of the endurance world’s most influential figures.  

Execute Specific Workouts

Execute Specific Workouts

Once you have a plan you need to follow it! The third step means that every workout has a purpose. 

Anyone can go out and train every day, but with a plan, you know you’re always working towards the end-goal. Some days, that means you’ll need to go hard, other days will be easy—some days you won’t train at all!  

The wise athlete will follow specific workouts as faithfully as possible for three reasons. First, following a plan prevents you from bad training habits like ‘playing catchup.’ Second, it will force you to rest, which is when you actually improve. And third, if you’re not progressing as you hoped, you can look back in your training and learn from your mistakes!

You should record your training with a device if possible. A device is a piece of physical hardware that records GPS, speed, heart, rate, distance, and any other data channels available for your workout. Devices can be designed for a particular sport, like a Garmin 1030, or as simple as an app on your phone.  

TrainingPeaks is compatible with hundreds of devices and apps to make it easy for you to upload your data to TrainingPeaks, which, as we’ll see later, is handy for analysis. You can find a full list of compatible devices here.

Get Immediate Feedback

You’re not done yet! The last step in training more effectively is to get Immediate Feedback. If you have a coach, this could be a comment on your workout after it’s been uploaded. If you’re using a plan or are self-coached, it could be a Peak Performance notification generated from TrainingPeaks’ data analysis. In both cases, you can apply information about your training to make sure you’re staying on track and inform your strategy going forward. Here’s how TrainingPeaks can help you get and use feedback right in the platform. 

Workout Analysis

It’s important to keep a log of your training. Most people do this through a fitness tracker, but you can also record your workouts manually by including details like your pace, distance, and time spent training. If you do have a device, make sure the file is uploaded to TrainingPeaks so you can view it.

Once a workout uploads, you can log into your TrainingPeaks athlete account and click on the workout. The first thing you’ll see is a pop-up window (called a Quick-View) that shows your summary metrics like distance, time, pace, average power, etc. In the quick view, you’ll know at a glance if you hit your workout targets. 

You’ll also notice a little menu on the right-hand side that asks ‘How did you feel?’ At a minimum, you should select an emoji and use the slider to say how hard you felt the workout was. Be honest! Tracking how you feel over time is valuable,  whether you have a coach or not. You never know when you might want to look back on a day and see how you felt—we forget those important details quickly 

Extra credit: you can enter additional thoughts in the small window at the bottom of the Quick-View called ‘Post Activity Comments.’ This is a great place to keep track of nutrition, life stressors, breakthroughs, and injuries. 

Further Analysis

If you want to further analyze your file, click the big blue ‘Analyze’ button (or map and graph on the TrainingPeaks mobile app) to expand the  Quick-View. In this view, you’ll see a map of your workout, as well as a graph showing all of the workout data recorded by your device. If you want to sort the data into other charts, click the bar graph icon next to the workout title to check out our chart library. You can drag and drop your favorites into your analysis for future workouts.

To drill down on a section of interest during your workout (like an interval) you can click and drag your mouse over that section of the graph to select it. The summary data displayed on the right will now reflect only the selected segment, so you can see whether you hit your targets (like heart rate or power) for that interval.

Dashboard Charts

Knowing how you performed in a workout is helpful, but it’s also important to track how you’re doing over time. To see the cumulative effects of consistent training, you can use Dashboard Charts. To access your Dashboard from the calendar, click the blue hyperlink ‘Dashboard’ toward the top of your browser window. You should see a whole page of charts and graphs. Welcome to your fitness trends!

In the Dashboard section, you can see peaks for heart rate, pace, or power, as well as your cumulative time in different heart rate zones, a summary of your training volume, and more!  Check it out for yourself. Like in your workout view, you can customize your dashboard with your favorite charts, just click the chart icon on the far left of your screen to view the selection. Bonus tip: click ☰ on the chart to customize it for your goals. 

When you’re training for your goal, a natural question you might ask is, “am I getting fitter?” The Performance Management Chart, or PMC for short, provides the most accurate answer by plotting your fitness and fatigue over time. 

How does it know? Every time you upload a workout, TrainingPeaks calculates a Training Stress Score (TSS) for that workout based on your threshold. TSS is essentially a number that combines the intensity and duration of your workout to represent how hard you trained and the associated physiological effect. By tracking the training stress of your workouts over time, the PMC can give you an idea of how much stress your body is under and if you’re recovering well enough to maximize adaptation. 

All of the most powerful Performance Management Chart variables that model your training load (CTL, ATL, and TSB) derive from TSS. Dive into the details of the Performance Management Chart to take your analysis to the next level.

Bringing It All Together

TrainingPeaks is designed to help you focus your goals, stick to a plan, give every workout a purpose and tell you when you’re on track. These proven elements have taken thousands of athletes on their journey to the finish line, and we know they’ll help you reach yours too.  

Just know the process doesn’t have to stop here! With enough time, there’s no telling what you can accomplish with TrainingPeaks.

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