As we slide into the quiet period around the holidays and end of year, companies are doing their best to finish off projects. And one such project that Xert has launched into beta is their Forecast AI tool. Essentially, the tool allows you to pick a desired max power level duration (e.g. 20-minute max power) for a future date, and then it’ll build out an entire training schedule to try and get you to hit that goal. In other words, you can say you want to have a 300w power level by June 1st, and it’ll go off and try and make that happen – all based on your specific historical data.
Equally, it’ll tell you when you’re on crack, and your goal is unrealistic.
This is an interesting twist on automated training plans. We’ve seen many companies create automated training ‘stuff’ over the last few years, especially this year, but I’m not aware of any that are letting you define your end-goal power values. Certainly, Xert’s been around the power analytics and algorithms block longer than almost any other company. Even companies like TrainingPeaks and TrainerRoad never did the power meter data analytics and algorithms that Xert did nearly a decade ago (when named Baron Biosystems)
Anyways, given this is a Friday post, and the rules for Friday posts are they be short (even more so the Friday before Christmas), I gave it a quick whirl to see how it works. And not to state the obvious: I can’t teleport to June to see how this would work out, so, we’ll just have to see what it creates for now instead.
First up, in my case I actually have a fully paid and data-filled Xert account, so it has years and years of training data for me. Else, you can pull it in from various sources. So at the moment, with half-hearted November/December ‘training’ (read: Random hikes and gravel rides up/around volcanos), it has my FTP around 282. That seems perfectly reasonable and matches what other platforms are currently estimating for the moment, so I’ll go with it. Usually my FTP floats from 280w to 305-310w or so, depending on the season/training.
(Above: My dashboard, note in the specific above screenshot I took this after I started the beta, thus you’ll see the ‘Forecasted Training’ module shown’)
You’ll notice at the top a button that says ‘Forecast AI Beta’, go ahead and tap that, which brings you here. This is where you join the beta:
Next, you’ve got two options. The first option is where you define a specific target/goal power by a given date, whereas the second is where you choose a given event instead.
In my case, I selected the ‘Goal’ one, because I’m a simple-minded person who just wanted to try and boost their FTP ego.
Thus, brings me to this page. It has three sliders and a date box. I selected June 1st, 2024 as my goal date, and then started playing with the sliders. The top slider is obviously the one that matters in terms of the target maximum power, whereas the bottom two sliders are changing what type of riding you’ll be focusing on. As you do this, you’ll see it changes various numbers along the bottom. I do wish it’d just show the exact number below the ‘dot’ on the sliders, rather than having to look down below in the ‘Target Fitness Signature’. Note that if you change the ‘Focus’ type, then it’ll change the max power duration – such as shifting down to a very short duration for a sprinter (versus 20-minutes for TT).
If you slide it too far to the right (as I did here to 334w), it tells you that you’re hallucinating:
Now, once you’ve decided on a desired outcome (I’d select 316w in my case), it’ll start generating the training plan. It literally does this day-by-day in front of you. It’s like watching a screensaver. Here it is building out the month of January, showing the progress bar as well at the top:
And then, a minute or two later, it finishes. You can see the entire next 5ish or so months built-out, and then your 20-minute power value listed as well. If you hover over any section of it, you can see the exact weekly hours shown for that week, as well as training load/etc.
The allocated workout times and types appear on the calendar, however, not the actual workouts. Here’s a random set of a few weeks out in March. I will say that this seems like a bit of a quirkier schedule to have two back-to-back rest days, and then a cluster of three relatively higher volume days (but none higher intensity). Obviously, there are countless coaching methodologies out there – one of which is simply just a crapton of endurance-focused volume, which this seems to be aiming for.
Now, for an actual workout to be selected, you’ll choose the given day’s forecast, and then select to assign various suggested workouts to that day:
These workouts include everything from ERG workouts to video ones. It’s quite a mix of stuff. In terms of the act of choosing a workout though, this works fine. But honestly, I’m lazy. Just have it pre-assign the workouts, at least for a few weeks or up to a month out, and then if I want, offer alternate suggestions.
Still, I had more questions. Namely, what if I want to change the training time allotted per week? After all, as a triathlete, Xert doesn’t cover running or pretending to swim. So I need to schedule time for at least running. Thus in the above scenario where it’s got 11-hours per week on the highlighted week, that’s all cycling, not other sports.
Turns out the answer is ‘sorta’. You can choose any given day on the calendar (e.g. Monday), and then limit the amount of time on that day to a set number of hours. You’d then rinse/repeat this for the rest of the days in the week. I guess that’s fine, but honestly, I’d rather just say (for example) “Max 8 hours per week” – which I’d allocate to cycling, and then fill the rest in on running.
And then finally, what about that option earlier in the Forecast AI wizard to select an event? If you do that, you can choose the event duration and ‘type’ of event. Albeit, this doesn’t work super well for me as a triathlete, as those drop-down options at the top actually change the sliders down below (which you can’t change, except duration). Ideally there’d be a “Time Trialist/Triathlete” option, but also fully understand that’s not Xert’s direct target audience.
In any case, as noted by the term ‘beta’ on the buttons, this is all very much beta for Xert, but something they’ve been working on for quite some time. I saw it back this past spring initially, so it’s something they’ve been trialing for a while within their internal beta pool, and have now made available to everyone else.
Still, it’s a cool way of looking at ‘what’s possible’, and historically speaking, Xert has done a very good job at using algorithms to predict your max power values/durations during a ride; in fact, that’s literally the first thing the company introduced years ago. So it’ll be interesting to see as real-world people start using this, how well it does when scaling from a single ride – to a season’s worth of riding.
With that – thanks for reading!
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