Continuing on the reviews, we’re going to move onto Training Peaks. As previously alluded to, they are widely considered the Masters of training and racing with a powermeter. Their offline software, WKO+, has been used by major coaches all over the world.
As with SportTracks.mobi, there is things that I didn’t have a chance to look at and missed. However, I plan on updating things further when I figure them out. There are some issues with Training Peaks that make the user experience painful. I’ve used a demo of WKO+ 3.0 before and I’m very excited about 4.0 even with what seems to be never ending delays.
Training Peaks Online
Training peaks is strongly associated with Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan, the authors of Training and Racing with a Powermeter. This is the book I previously recommended. They are coming out with a new version of their offline software, WKO+ 4.0 and have been running webinars about some “Black box” physiology math.
What I mean is that you give it your input (your ride / test data files) and it gives you back and output such as telling you your FTP has increased, decreased, etc – but it neglects to tell you how or why. I’m a big fan of open source hardware and software which is where the beginnings of this blog originated and will continue to support in various projects. Feel free to make your own comments and share your opinions on Black Box technology. Personally, I feel disdain for it.
So onto the web app. This is the first page you’ll see: It gives a nice calendar view which provides a great history. You can switch to weeks, list and day views. You’ll notice I don’t have any data here – we’ll try and fix that next.
Let’s upload some data to Training Peaks. It is seamless with Garmin Connect, SportTracks and Strava, and others I’ve tried – and maybe this is because I have two of the most popular devices (Garmin Edge 500, Forerunner FR910xt). So I need to find that pesky upload button. It doesn’t seem to be on the main page (or every page on almost every web app I’ve tried). After a little searching I figured this is because they are focusing on the new beta page and maybe this is a legacy thing. I assume that the new beta page will have an upload button in the corner.
Still no upload? I have barely ever read a manual in my life, and I’ve never seen it required with a web page. However, I’m getting seriously frustrated so I’m consulting the help file
I read that my options include:
- WKO+ Desktop software (I’m looking at WKO+ 4 purchase whenever it comes out), but the whole point of a web app is access everywhere and not having to install software on every computer
- TrainingPeaks Device Agent – Seriously? I already have the Garmin ANT+ Agent, I need another one! Strava can upload via the Garmin Communicator plugin, this is more than surprising.
- Upload from Quick View – File upload; I’ll tired this first. Why is this practically hidden?
- Upload from the item picker – Again, file upload like above. Again, nearly hidden!
I’m trying method 3, upload from Quick View. I click on a day (the wrong one – intentionally, because I want to see what happens – the .fit files have embedded time and date stamps as well as GPS data) and I’m manually uploading:
I specified Jan 13 and tried forcing Jan 22’s run.
So now I’ve put the 22’s run on the 13, the 20th’s run on the 14. Not a single issue here doing it. It didn’t pop up, or alert me, or just override my choice. Curious.
I have a huge issue with this. I want the ability to override things, but in the day of web apps and GPS watches / cycle computers / smart phones where time and date are set via GPS or Cell tower data I shouldn’t have to specify the day for each file. I can manually upload to the Garmin Connect site with the communicator plugin. So lets put this all right in terms of the dates. I’m downloading the Device Agent.
From the help page link I’m confronted with a 404.
However, finding it via Google to a live link on their site I download the TrainingPeaks Device Agent 3.0 and install it. Once open I select the Garmin Forerunner 910xt and click open files (That’s questionable; why not upload?).
I’m shown a listing of files in the Garmin Folder. I’m confused to say the least. I downloaded a Device Agent to talk to my device, which I have with me.
WOAH! Hold on now!!!! It is just linking to my files on my hard drive that would only be there if I used the Garmin Agent. I’m not even 100% sure that Sporttracks or Strava doesn’t do the same for ANT-FS based devices, but it does it without me thinking. With the Edge 500 they both talk directly to it (because it shows up as a drive, the FR910XT needs to use ANT-FS)
This TrainingPeaks Agent didn’t communicate to my Device via ANT-FS to get the fit files directly from the device, it went to the Garmin folder for the Garmin ANT Agent. This is a hack / cheat / workaround if I ever saw one – and having “Hack” in the name of my blog means I love hacks – but why did I have to download a piece of software to do this? If I didn’t have Garmin ANT+ Agent installed and uploaded to the Garmin Connect site via the Agent method then it sounds like I couldn’t use the files. Maybe others are using this cheat too, but I manually had to select the files to upload via the web interface (one by one) and tell Training Peaks when they happened unless I use the Device Agent – whose only benefit is to read the time and date and put it in the appropriate date.
I want to quickly visit the top bar of other sites though.
And Training Peaks has an “Upgrade to Premium” button instead. Even the Beta has a big upgrade and not upload button.
As a reminder, tapiriik doesn’t work unless you upgrade.
After this frustration fest I now have data. Lets look at the Dashboard. I’m starting off in negative calories which is concerning but I assume I need to put in dietary information.
It’s giving me very little in terms of summary. It’s highly customizable though which is similar to WKO+ 3.0 which is nice. However, nothing is setup as a default to give me summary data.
You might be asking why I’m giving TrainingPeaks a hard time on this. The simple reason is that their desktop software was one of the first and widely considered the best, and they’ve spent a lot of time migrating almost all of that functionality to the web because it needs to almost fully complement WKO+ for the WKO+ desktop to web app uploading, but they seem to have forgotten that web apps aren’t just straight desktop translations and that their customer base have $200 – $1000+ in hardware that they want seamless integration and are given that with almost all of the competitors.
I like Specialized Bikes motto: Innovate or die.
Something cool happened after I had data into the site. I got an email notification when an algorithm detected something – though still not a fan of Black Box Algorithms but I did like the nice clean email that notified me of this stuff.
Honestly, this has been the most frustrating web apps to track my data that I’ve seen. I’ve spent way more time on this site than any other and found I was quickly going nowhere. I desperately wanted it to work well and I tried and tried. I wanted the kings of power to help me analyze my training plan data going forward, but I found I barely had data into their site. If you’ve more experienced with WKO and their products, it might be easier since you know the tricks to make it work – but my point is that the competitors “Just work”. If you’re new to tracking your data, this experience will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- Customizable everything, from charts, dashboard, etc
- The “experts” in power
- Actually using it
- Getting your data in
- Upgrade instead of Upload
I’m hoping I’ll come back to it when I upgrade to Pro so that:
- Tapiriik works – Seriously that is a laughable childish money grab rule to make your API only work on the paid version. Garmin works, Strava works, Dropbox works, and more
- I can explore all my historical data
- Explore annual training plan – apparently also a paid feature
However until then I feel I’ve invested too much time already. If you can’t just switch on and start using something like this, you’re doing it wrong. It’s hard to give money to something that doesn’t work well in the unpaid version, it’s a fools errand to follow through on a paid version hoping it’ll fix that.