Finding the Right Online Training Tool

A buddy reminded me this weekend that I haven’t posted in awhile. Then another friend was talking to me about online tools and software that we each use for tracking performance. Combine the two streams of thought and you’ve got a very quick blog post. So here’s what I’m playing with…Right now, I’m using two tools extensively. My friend introduced to a third one that looks amazingly promising and suggested a fourth one as well. But why use four different online tools to track performance? Simple. Because they each help make you faster in a different way.

  1. TrainingPeaks (WKO+). This is the 800 pound gorilla for analyzing performance. It syncs with just about every fitness recorder (Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc) out there. It’s fantastic for analyzing performance, such as how many watts I’ve averaged during a particular cycling interval. WKO is the desktop companion that lets you dive much much deeper into performance data. I’ve been using TrainingPeaks for analyzing my data.
  2. XertIn the last few months, I have been playing with Xert a lot. It uploads from different sites (e.g. Garmin Connect) and also lets you analyze performance. At first, I used Xert for getting a realtime estimate of my FTP (which WKO also does) but the real value of Xert lies in its ability to get a much fuller picture of your fitness– and creating workouts around that fitness. For instance, two people can have the same FTP but, if one those people is a natural sprinter while the other person is purely an endurance athlete, the same workout can feel completely different. Xert also has a cruel player (i.e. coach) that makes sure you work out as hard as possible. I’ll have much more to say about Xert in future posts.
  3. Bareda. This is a new one for me and I have to explore it further. Bareda is all about figuring out your training load to get you to the best shape possible (given your time constraints).
  4. Best Bike Split. This is also a data geek’s dream and another tool that I hope to use in the coming year. Best Bike Split takes all of your training data and figures out what kind of athlete you are– than applies that to the exact course your next event will be on. This is a perfect tool for dialing in performance on well-known popular courses like the Kona Ironman or Powerman Zofingen but it can also work with custom courses as well.

Wow! That’s a lot of tools. To help make sense of what they each can do you you, I think the following breakdown helps.

  • Bareda: What Should I Do? Bareda figures out your training plan at the highest and most abstract level. It answers questions like, “should this be a hard week?” and “how many miles should I put in the bank this week?”
  • Xert: How Should I Do It? Xert is great at analyzing your fitness and figuring out what YOU are capable of given your overall athletic signature. Need a hard workout dialed in to a particular weakness? Xert is the best program for figuring out exactly what your targets should be.
  • TrainingPeaks (WKO): How Did I Do? TrainingPeaks has tried to become more of a planning tool (and plenty of athletes and coaches use it for that), but I find the best use of TraningPeaks and WKO is is analyzing what I’ve done.
  • Best Bike Split: How Well Will I Do? BBS is a bit of a more targeted product. I think it’s best used for planning A Races and key events.

As I mentioned, I’m really excited about Xert (and potentially Bareda). Hopefully, I’ll have a few more shorter posts to describe some of their features.

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