How I train, upload and get analysis from my Coach

I’ll admit it upfront – I’m really lucky.  Or rather, I’m really lucky to have a coach who’s so incredibly detail oriented that he’s thrilled to pour through whatever I upload – be it data files, text commentary, or photos (yup, sometimes those too!). While I write a bit from time to time on the workouts my coach prescribes, I haven’t actually touched on how it all works when it comes to getting detailed feedback. I recently got a question regarding how exactly the whole process works from workout to feedback.  So what better way than a step-by-step overview of how it all goes down. The Pre-Workout: This evening I put together my life schedule for the next four weeks, which includes details like work trips or other things that would impact my training.  From there, he takes that information and put together a comprehensive schedule of workouts for the next four weeks.  While nothing is ever set in absolute stone, this provides a good structure for me to work off of.  It looks at a high level like this: image

(No, not matter how much you expand it…it still won’t be readable…sorry!)

Yup, that’s some 13 pages of everything from a calendar overview on the first page, to detailed workouts for swimming, cycling and running broken out by day – as well as core strength type workouts at the end.  I’ve purposefully zoomed out because he puts a lot of work into these workouts and their his property…plus, I can’t give away all the secrets! When it’s time to break out my workout for the day I dig through the Word document and find the corresponding week and workout.  That tells me exactly what I’m doing for that day.  Take for example, a run I did last week:

:10 Z2 :05 building to Z4A :02 easy 3 x (:05 Z4B, w/ :02.30 easy in between) :02 easy 4×30” hard Cool Down

Now that I’ve figured out what I’ve got to do, it’s time to actually do it. The Workout Itself: This is the part where I actually do the workout itself.  In general, I simply just run my butt off.  Last week’s 3x5m was actually pretty easy, and was considered an easy week workout.  This week was a whole different matter where both the number of sets and length of repeats’ times increased a fair bit. Nonetheless, I simply go out and run: IMG_1070 As I’m running, I’m doing one key thing: Creating laps on my watch.  For each segment noted above, I’m creating a lap.  So for example, the first 10 minutes is a lap, the second 5 minutes is a lap, and so on.  The reason I do this is that later on it makes it much easier for me and him to analyze the relevant parts.  If I had just used automatic mile markers, it wouldn’t be of much use later on, because of the structure of this particular workout (had it been a simple 20-mile run, then those would be more useful). After I’m done, I simply stop and reset to save the file like normal. Uploading: Here’s where the techno-magic kicks in.  Well, mostly anyway.  First, I crack open the Training Peaks device agent to upload my workout: image I don’t bother to edit any of the data within the device agent window, though I could.  I do that in the next step instead.  From above I click Save to have it upload to Training Peaks (TP), and then click Login to automatically log me in.  A few short minutes later, I’m here: image This shows me my calendar overview of workouts.  It says “Coach Alan” because my account is actually paid for by my Coach, and he’s gone ahead and customized the banner; otherwise it would just say Training Peaks. In my case, I’ll see my run, which I’ll go ahead and click on, which brings me to this page: image This is the workout overview page.  You can see gone ahead and typed in the description of the run in that box, as well as information about each of my sets in the post-activity box.  You may be wondering where I get that information from.  Well, it’s super easy.  I click on the “Map & Graph” tab to get detailed information about the run, which brings me to this page: image

(Love that HR spike there at the beginning…see…I’m not immune to them either…the end ones are legit)

In the center of the page you can see that column with individual laps.  What you may have noticed is that these are my actual laps that I set on the watch itself.  So, let’s take a look at one of the ones in my core set: image You can see above on the highlighted lap that if you look at the ‘Avg’ column my average pace for that 5 minute set was 5:53 (good deal!), with a HR of 171 (slightly below planned).  Meanwhile, my running cadence was 93 (not bad at all for me).  It also highlights it on the side. Now, you may be wondering why I re-type this information into the description field if it’s easily accessible here.  For me, it’s primarily just to make quick reference easier.  While Coach will re-analyze all my splits regardless of whether or not I type them up, I just do it so if I’m glancing back a year from now I have them in 3 seconds versus re-analyzing what I was doing that day: image I also use this space to provide random other comments as well about the run.  Take for example this from a few weeks ago: image So with that, I then sit back and let the magic happen. Feedback and Analysis: A short bit after I save the workout it will automatically e-mail my coach the workout and a link directly to that particular workout.  While he can always look at any workout on my calendar (he has the same view as I do), this makes it easy for him to look at just that individual workout. image Because I’m super-lucky to have a coach that is actually invested in in his athletes, I get incredibly fast feedback.  Typically if I upload anytime he’s awake (about 7AM to 10PM), I’ll get a response within a few hours.  The responses from Coach vary from super-detailed to just ‘detailed’.  There are never any un-detailed responses, that’s not a valid setting apparently. I picked a different workout to show you that I always get great feedback – even when I may have slightly missed the ball on something (or nailed the majority of it, as is the case below). image Of course, sometimes there’s some follow-up banter back and forth after the analysis e-mail.  Not always, but it just depends on the e-mail and if any follow-up questions from him were needed. As you can see, it’s a pretty involved process.  I recognize that not all coaches are this involved – which doesn’t mean they aren’t good by any means (well, you may remember my first coaching disaster).  It simply means that my coach is very involved and very much interested in really using technology to understand how his athletes are progressing.  It also helps that he doesn’t have a huge number of athletes either, just a group small enough that he can do this to his enjoyment. Hope you found this overview of the process interesting, as always, if you have any questions – feel free to drop them below.  Thanks!

23 Comments

  1. Having approached rowing seriously in the past before and recently just having fun an doing triathlon on an ad-hoc basis, I'm now thinking about doing things more scientifically again. As such I've got a power tap on the way and I'm starting to think about planning things properly.

    I've been playing around and getting to grips with SportTracks, and I've had a quick dabble with the free version of Training Peaks. While I like the look of TP the biggest pain is that you need to be online. Next week for example I'm off to Lanzarote for a week and won't have much if any access to the internet. In the middle of a training camp it's pretty useful to be able to analyse workouts as you go, so SportTracks is a clear winner there.

    Do you know of any easy way or tools for trying to keep things up to date in 3 places at a time? It's getting to be a bit of a hassle to make sure I upload, title, categorise and comment workouts just in garmin connect and SportTracks without adding TP into the mix.

    Cheers,

    Alistair

    Reply
  2. How many miles do you run a week?

    How many miles do you put on your shoes before you retire them?

    Reply
  3. Next time my wife razzes me about spending so much time downloading and pouring over my training data... I'll show her your blog.

    Reply
  4. Hi - was wondering how you can do this with computrainor - I know you use the coaching software but is there a way that you can send your workout to training peaks ? (not using coaching software) Without a power meter too....is there any way to lap your intervals on computrainor to show avg watts for that interval to send to a coach? Thx -

    Reply
  5. For the run... I have the FR310XT... by default or my doing each lap is measured in 1 mile increments. I assume that I need to turn this off if I am to use the lap button in such the manner that you do? I will be getting into some speedwork in the next month and would like to use the lap button to individually capture my splits, paces, etc. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Thanks for the post DCR.

    Do you or your coach create workouts in GTC and download them to your device. Given the complexity of your training this would seem helpful?

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Great post. It gives folks a good idea of how involved a coach/athlete relationship is.

    Reply
  8. i love all the data! i'm such a numbers nerd though. and i love that you have such a great coach who's willing to put up with it ha!

    Reply
  9. Hope you never try to have kids

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  10. Actually you two would likely be great parents, but wow, what a change of lifestyle that would be

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  11. Yeah Bruther's got that right. Training goes to nil when the littles ones arrive. I can attest to that. But it does get easier to work in once they get a little older.

    Reply
  12. Hi Zach-

    It varies between 30 and 50.

    I aim for about 500 miles on a pair, but it just depends on the actual wear. Which...reminds me, it's probably well past time to swap this pair out...

    Hi Britni-

    Yup, with the Coaching software (or any of the applications), you can save the file as a seperate text file that you can then upload to TP. I can't remember if the 'reports' show individual lap avg power offhand - I need to check on that. I know it shows total avg power.

    Hi Paul-

    Correct, you'll want to turn off auto-laps if you have any measured segments more than 1 mile in length, which is what I do (turn it off).

    Hi Anon-

    I do some races in GTC (see below link), but not the workouts. The structure is actually very similiar week to week, and after three years I can generally remember it, or just write it down.

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Hi Coach Rob-

    Thanks!

    Hi Bruther-

    Oh...you just wait until I do intervals with one of those jogging stroller thingies...you just wait...

    Thanks all!

    Reply
  13. Really interesting article, Ray. That's some serious slicing and dicing of data, and it's great to have a coach that is so involved.

    I saw a press release on an automated coaching system (Triton Triathlon) launching in a couple of months - any chance you could look into it and compare to a real-life coach?

    Reply
  14. Impressive blog! I am just starting to train for my first tri this year. Any pointers you can see while reading my blog would be awesome!

    Reply
  15. Hi Ryan. I'm considering transitioning from Garmin Connect to training peaks. The lack of analysis features in GC is a big limiting factor. What has prevented me so far from moving is the huge amount of data that I already have in there. Do you know if there is a way to import it into Training Peaks? I know you can do it if you use Training Center. The problem for me is that I never used that software, so I don't have the data locally in my computer.
    I doubt there is a way, since Garmin is not interest in making the data transferable to competitors. But I'd appreciate if you had any advice regarding this. Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Hi Alberto - unfortunately there isn't any bulk export from GC. What device do you have? If it's a 310XT or other one with ANT+ agent, the files are actually still on your computer. If it's an Edge device, they're probably still there.

    Reply
  17. Thank Ryan! I have a Garmin 310XT and an Edge 600. I installed GTC and it found my 310XT files in my computer. for the Edge files, I just had to connect to GTC. Then I imported them into Training Peaks.
    Although I'm still missing from Training Peaks all the workouts manually created on Garmin Connect (eg gym)

    Reply
  18. Carlos

    have you ever tried the Ascent software from montebello software? I saw you use training peaks....

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      I have briefly. But for me, everything being web based I'm able to most easily share data with a coach.

      Reply
  19. Gerarde

    DC, do you know any software that can do the following?
    I need one that does the following:
    -compatible with Garmin files
    -allows bulk import of Garmin files
    -allows me to add comments online (like how i felt, what i ate etc)
    -allows me to export my entries into either .csv or .xlsx format including the comments

    Currently i have a google doc that i update and link to my Garmin/Strava accounts. it works well but i think it would be neater if i could just add comments to an online entry and export it occasionally as required (to fulfill my nerdy data mining urges).

    Any thoughts on what i can use?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      It's really the #4 item that breaks down. #1-3 are supported on many platforms (Training Peaks, Sport Tracks, Golden Cheetah, etc...). But, exporting into those formats can be tough. Golden Cheetah allows you to export the file, but I don't know if the comments come back out. It's free though.

      Reply
  20. Gerarde

    Yes. the combination of number 3 and 4 together seems to be the difficult part as Garmin does a pretty good job at bulk export (at least 10 at a time, maybe more).

    Thanks for the details posts by the way - fantastic!!
    If i find a solution i will let you know.

    Will take a look at Golden Cheetah.

    Cheers

    Reply
  21. Morten

    Hi, my Girlfriend are being coach though TP, which is very good, she is so happy with it.
    Everything is pre planned in TP and afterwards she just needs to upload it and comment.

    I installed the Garmin Connect and TP Device Agent on her computer. The problem is that the data from the workout's, are created as separate workouts and not merge with the planed traning workout ... Any ideas to either fixed it or created an easier workflow with her coach ?

    link to tinypic.com

    Reply

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