person riding bicycle

Strava vs. Training Peaks vs TrainerRoad

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  1. Strava. The social application for sharing your rides ($60/year)
  2. TrainingPeaks. Lots of graphs and charts like Training Stress Scores, TSS, as well as heart rate and power analysis and for communicating with e-coaches ($120/year) with extra fees for workouts
  3. TrainerRoad. For getting workouts ($190/year).
  4. Garmin Connect. This is actually a free cloud service, but it takes data from Garmin bike computers (and tries to be a social network and an analysis place, but they are pretty rudimentary), but it is the export point for outdoor rides, so useful.
  5. Zwift. I don’t actually use it, but it’s the social application for virtual training that let’s you ride with others. I dropped it since I realized that I could be pretty dedicated following the Trainer Road plans.

But now, everyone has been adding features that overlap, so the big changes in the last three years has been huge and folks like Steely are wondering the same thing. right now I use all three in tandem which is a bit much

  1. Strava. They’ve added training stress, what they call intensity, I’m sure there is a trademark issue here, but you can see your progress. They don’t do training plans though.
  2. Trainer Road. They’ve added training stress as well and even estimate your Intensity Factor, TSS based on heart rate. They also have added machine learning models for doing exercises and have a 1-10 progression for the various attributes as well as a huge number of different integrations including being able to import rides from Garmin when you are outside and other sources. It also now has a calendar as well. The adaptations do seem pretty good, although some have wondered about their training plans. They also just added TSS estimate from heart rate, before now, you had to have a power meter so it didn’t work for old rides.
  3. Training Peaks. They now integrate other sources of data like your weight and other health metrics, but the main thing is a zillion, literally a zillion charts. As extra cost options, you can get prebuilt plans from coaches. And, they have not just TSS, but divide it into three “opaque” measures which is Fitness (this is really a long term smooth TSS average), Fatigue (which is the shorter term one so what you did last week) and Form (which is sort of the subtraction, if your Form is up, that is short term, then you are likely tired, so you get a negative fatigue. The technical terms are Acute Training Load (ATL), Chronic Training Load (CTL), which is a horrible name, should really be Short and Long-term load and then Training Stress Balance (TSB) which is the subtraction. You can kind of figure this out with the charts, but they make it nice.The more valuable things are that it tracks your Power curve, that is how much power you hold for 1 seconds, 5 seconds, 1 minutes etc and the same the heart rate, you can look at this over seasons, so you can see your HR curve and power curve over time. Note that while you don’t get a plan by default, you can get weekly TSS goals for an event.

The net, is that if you don’t do training plans, then just getting Strava isn’t a bad idea. It is cheap and it has the basics of progression. However, if you do want training plans, then Trainer Road seems like the best deal. The real question then is whether to ditch Training Peaks. That makes some sense if you don’t have a coach and you don’t use all their metrics.

Personally, I’m probably going to stick with this stuff for a bit longer, but next year, I would stack rank in order the value as:

  1. Trainer Road. Because in the current world, it is good to have good training plans and although the most expensive, you get bundled plans and I like the adaptations. And now that I understand progression, it gives me something to work towards to try to get to level 10 on each area and I like their FTP tests although I find that for me, the warm up is too short and the FTP estimates feel a little low because with a trainer you can definitely slow down and get stuck (the problem with ERG trainers is that if you slow up, the resistance increases, so you literally get to the point where the thing is complete jammed and you can’t spin it up, basically with their FTP test, don’t ever stop spinning like a maniac).
  2. Training Peaks. OK, I admit it, the main reason for this is that I like to see the power curves and HR curves mainly to see how I am doing and the TSS 
  3. Strava. Ironically, this is the first one I would give up, while it is really nice to see how you are doing compared with your age group and other people and get KOMs and tear that apart, the various analysis, you can’t see anything historical, it is all per ride, so less useful.

Getting all the integrations to work

The real issue with having three of these is that it takes a lot of work to get all the integrations to work so for instance:

  1. TrainingPeaks. It has a huge number of integrations, if you go to your Apple device, you can add Apple Health, Garmin works from their cloud platform, powertap pedals, of course TrainerRoad to get workouts and even Withings scales as well as Wahoo trainers of course from their mobile application, they can connect with anything that is Bluetooth LE from a device like a laptop or a phone to record stuff
  2. TrainerRoad. You can add your workouts to your calendar, so you can just see it using webcal, and it can sync rides from Strava so this will import Strava rides and export TrainerRoad rides, Garmin which will import five years worth of Garmin Connect pics and push TrainerRoad rides to Garmin, and rides from Training Peaks which will import TraiingPeaks paid workouts and push TrainerRoad rides to TrainingPeaks.
  3. Strava. Ok, this gets repetitive, but as mentioned before, you TrainerRoad rides get pushed to Strava. And it will also take a feed from Garmin for outdoor rides. You actually enable this on the Garmin Connect mobile application in More > Settings > Connected Apps and you can export to AllTrails, sync data to and from Apple Health, push rides to Strave and also get Strava Segments loaded into your computer so you can race along these and if you can find your Garmin 1030 (where is it???!), then when you approach a segment, you get an alert and you will see Rivals, your Personal Record and you can try to beat it, TrainerRoad with 2-way sync rides and TrainingPeaks will get uploaded rides and you can download plans.

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