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TrainerRoad Starts To Tackle Running Support

DSC_3130

Back a few weeks ago, TrainerRoad staff posted to their forums that they were opening up a public beta toggle to get initial running metrics within the TrainerRoad platform. Up till now, it’s only been cycling focused in terms of data processing – though, the company has long had triathlon plans as part of their mix, which included running (and swimming). The only catch though was that the run/swim portions weren’t actually shown in TrainerRoad as a platform afterwards.

That starts to change now though, at least, for users that sign-up for the beta. Once toggled, it’ll start to import running workouts from your data sources, such as Strava & Garmin Connect. After which, you’ll be able to view them within the platform, with some of the same tools that you have on the cycling side. Notably, as you’d probably expect for TrainerRoad, they do indeed support running power within their platform.

Lastly, it should be noted that approximately forever ago, when TrainerRoad first came onto the market, I remember asking co-founders Nate & Reid if they thought they’d ever approach running within the platform. Even waaaaaay back then, I remember them slyly saying that was their eventual goal. So, looks like we’ve reached that point, a decade or so later.

In the Beginning:

In any case, I’ve been poking at it a little bit the last few weeks, so I figured I’d quickly show you where they’re at. First up, you need to get this toggled within your account. As noted earlier, I’d recommend reading all the caveats on their beta thread here (which also acts as a support channel). And again, remember, this is beta. It’s not finished. TrainerRoad tends to keep things in beta for a heck of a long time, and it tends to change a fair bit during that time.

With that noted, on your profile you’ll go to Early Access, and then to ‘Import and Display Runs’, which is located quite a bit further down. I’ve composited the two portions here into one screenshot, so I skip past and not show all the secret e-bike, and TikTok integration features.

TrainerRoadEarlyaccess

Then, you’ll want to double-check that your accounts are connected under Ride Sync. This is how the runs get synced to TrainerRoad, even if it’s currently listed as ‘Ride Sync’. Again, I’m sure at some point later in beta this header will get changed to ‘Ride and Other Junk Sync’:

RideSync

With that, any runs you complete will automatically show up on your calendar. If you had a run workout scheduled that day, it’ll merge the scheduled with the completed together just like it would for cycling. Note, while Adaptive Training will now re-schedule runs that are missed, it won’t analyze the performance of those runs to re-think your run workouts (whereas it’ll do that on cycling).

So, over on the calendar you’ll see the runs show up just like a cycling workout would. Up top is a chart of the workout, with the elevation shown as well as summary stats. Below that you’ve got your run title, date/time, and source. And then below that are the laps as recorded in the file. In my case, this was just every 1KM laps.

Part1

Scrolling down further beyond the intervals, you’ll see the map and any notes you’ve set. The upper chart portion stays put the entire time as you scroll through the rest of the page.

Part2

Here’s another workout from today on the track, a slate of intervals. In the below one, you don’t see power, because of the four watches I was using, this one didn’t have power connected, and won the sync race to TrainerRoad. I could re-upload the right one, but afternoon coffee and other analytics are calling my name.

IntervalRun

And just like with cycling you can zoom on in to various chunks and get details about that specific chunk:

zoomIn

Now, at the moment, that’s pretty much the extent of things. There’s a slate of nuances and caveats that I’ll list below, but are only accurate as of today. They could well (and probably will) change tomorrow, or 12 minutes from now.

A) Only ‘run’ types are imported currently, so that includes trail runs, but not walks
B) This only shows up within the web platform, not on the mobile/tablet apps, nor on your TV or Google Home Hub
C) You can view this from your phone, but you just need to be on the site, not within the app
D) You can indeed manually import older runs to TrainerRoad, if you want to build up that base of data (they won’t automatically sync over)
E) You can manually assign an RPE (perceived effort), which will then generate a TSS score, but it doesn’t happen automatically
F) Remember that if you have any privacy zones on Strava, they don’t apply to TrainerRoad. Your TR account is private by default, but do double-check that you haven’t toggled it to public over the years if you don’t want that.
G) TrainerRoad isn’t generating TrainNow or similar run workouts at this point, this is basically one-way from run devices into TrainerRoad

I’m sure there’s plenty of caveats, but that’s a good starting point.

Going Forward:

SpingTriathlon

Ultimately, it’ll be interesting to see where TrainerRoad goes with this. Or more specifically, how long it takes them to get there. At present, the beta doesn’t really add much for most TrainerRoad runners. However, it doesn’t take much to see where the next steps could be. If we look at how to get parity to their cycling side, they’ve got the following to-do list to check-off:

A) Full in-app support for running analytics that mirrors their cycling bits
B) Creating a catalog of running workouts with exact pace/power structure/steps (versus just perceived effort today)
C) Executing indoor (treadmill) in-app, blue bars and all
D) Pushing to Garmin/Wahoo/etc… for outdoor workouts (like they do for cycling today)
E) Integration between cycling and running training load (since it’s just your one body, having those two be cohesive is key)
F) Broader support for running devices. They need to connect to platforms like Suunto, COROS, Polar, and Apple Health (since Apple Watch soon has running power too).
G) Integration of Adaptive Training features for running

Once all that’s complete, they’ll have themselves a running version of TrainerRoad. After which, they get the fun task of marketing it.

Given September is just a couple of days away, and given their current state of the platform, they’re obviously not targeting the popular fall running race season. I’d imagine instead they’re going to work their way through my napkin list above over the course of the winter, and then launch with a blend of running and triathlon support for next spring as the triathlon season warms up. In fact, I could even see them adding swimming support in beta by late fall, again, in time for people to start spending more time in the pools – putting them in position to launch next spring for both the triathlete and running audience.

It’d be easier for TrainerRoad to break into the triathlon market than the running market. Triathletes are largely already aware of TrainerRoad via their cycling aspects, whereas most pure runners wouldn’t have any awareness of TrainerRoad. Not to mention that for the most part, running focused training apps/plans/platforms are kinda a dime a dozen these days. Most of them aren’t really any different than anything else out there, no matter how many times someone tosses in the words ‘AI’, ‘Cloud Based’, or ‘Machine Learning’.

Which isn’t to say TrainerRoad shouldn’t try that, but rather, I wouldn’t start there. It’s far easier to start with cultivating and converting existing TrainerRoad triathletes, than it is to try and convert clean-sheet runners.

Either way – interesting times ahead.

With that – thanks for reading!

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22 Comments

  1. Greg

    Thanks for the update Ray. Sounds like the future will be interesting. Wasn’t there something a while back about a TrainerRoad / Zwift partnership? Have you heard any more about that? That could help with the integration of treadmills I suppose. Although Zwift running is….

    Thanks again!

  2. jcg

    Totally different topic, but any updates on TrainerRoad and Zwift?

  3. David E.

    So, is TR ultimately going to go after TrainingPeaks? I mean, if they could offer all the same upload and analytic functionality plus a library of workouts from which coaches (real or AI) could choose at somewhere near the same price point. . .

    • I think for some small slice, yes, they probably are (but also probably wouldn’t want to say as such).

      I suspect you can roughly divide people/users into three categories would it comes to analytics:

      A) Just do the ride, a quick glance at avg power/HR once complete, and done.
      B) Do the ride, but perhaps spend some time looking at each interval to see any fade/etc… and maybe a quick glance at overall training load
      C) Do the ride, and then spend nearly as long analyzing every chunk (such as some coaches), then look at the entire progression day by day, going back and forth and comparing different seasons/builds

      In this scenario, I think TR’s aim is A/B above, and their tools in cycling largely cover that. I’d assume they’ll get their for running.

      Meanwhile, for C above, I think the nuances there are so deep that TP (either TrainingPeaks or Today’sPlan) has that segment for a long time.

      In fact, in some ways, I think those nuances are both TrainingPeak’s biggest asset, but also their biggest liability. For every nuanced feature they’ve added over the last 20 years, at the request of a demanding coach, they’ve created a (probably) better product. But they’ve also made it incredibly difficult to grow the platform with new features. I don’t think most TP users (myself included) could actually tell you anything notably new or major in TP in the last few years. I suspect that’s mostly because it’s become so difficult, if not impossible, to not break something else.

      So users that previously were in buckets A/B above, but don’t really need to pay an extra service, are finding that the tools provided not just by TrainerRoad, but even the manufs themselves are good enough. I can easily analyze TrainingLoad and recovery within platforms like Garmin Connect these days, even using TP-licensed things like TSS/NP on plots.

      And maybe TP sees more value in licensing those things that dealing with the headaches that are complex user bases. I don’t know.

    • David E.

      Thanks, Ray. Interesting. (For what it’s worth, this strikes me as similar to the Learning Management System industry–Blackboard, Canvas, etc. Blackboard is so bloated with features that nobody uses at this point that everybody hates it. TP hasn’t gotten to that point, but might there be simpler and just as effective solutions for most people? Training software and LMS’s actually have a lot in common now that I think about it.)

  4. Dr Jones

    I think multisport training management without a meatspace coach is still one of the biggest vacancies in the marketplace. I have a hacked together setup in Golden Cheetah in an attempt to unify cycling and running (via Stryd running power), but unless you’re in love with TRIMP there really isn’t a clear path forward IMHO. Getting AI, $, and the enthusiasm of TrainerRoad’s ownership is a good step.

    • Stephen Hemminger

      Tridot seems to be the leader in this small segment. The main problem with it is they want to sell you real coaching plans not just use the tool.

  5. fl33tStA

    if A – G on your list is done by TR then i am think about to renew my yearly subscription, in the meanwhile i use link to enduco.app
    they already have all the things like TR and i think even more better

    • Daniel Wood

      Enduco looks interesting, but there isn’t miuch information avalible aside from the website & free trial. Do you know where I can find more info on it? all the youtube videos look like they are in german.

      thanks

    • fl33tStA

      enduco is relative new, it is a german company (it’s good for me), but they support english too, i tried it now arround 2 month an i think i start my next season with enduco, their daily bot (Trainer) is really cool, so you can adapt your training every day, so i can switch easily between cycling or running and get always a good workout.
      all workouts (HR, Power or Pace based) you can send to Garmin , TrainingPeaks, suunto, polar and so on

  6. Ferry

    I wonder when TR comes with an updated Progression levels 2.0, because in current system outdoor rides and unstructured trainings excluded from progression calculation and adaptive training

  7. Sean K.

    So only data from Strava or Garmin? I wonder if they plan to support other watch brands. Or is the expectation for the non-Garmin devices you have to use Strava? This may be due to resources. But hope we don’t see a world were it is only one major brand.

    • JimL

      TR has always been a brand agnostic company. I think that at this point, they are simply throwing out the easiest build they can to start to work through ideas/bugs/suggestions. I wholly doubt they would stay with just one or two brands if they grow this feature.

  8. Daniel Wood

    Hi Ray, with the advent of more AI based solutions (aiendurance, trainasone & Garmin generated workouts) would it be possible to review all of these & provide an updated 2022 comparison?

    Thanks

  9. Simon

    If they want to target triathletes (rather than duathletes), then import the Swim data, too! Can’t be any harder to do, surely?

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