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Using Power Meters in Triathlon Training

Power meters have long been a key tool in cyclists training arsenals, providing more reliable feedback on the effort being put in by a cyclist than heart rate, speed, or perceived effort, all of which are influenced by variable factors (such as climate, road conditions, athletes well being etc.).

Conducting training intervals sets using power zones is probably the most effective way of producing improved performance within the cyclist yet to date few Triathletes have picked up on this technique due to a combination of ignorance of the practice, the cost of power meters and fear of data and analysis.

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Power meters have long been a key tool in cyclists training arsenals, providing more reliable feedback on the effort being put in by a cyclist than heart rate, speed, or perceived effort, all of which are influenced by variable factors (such as climate, road conditions, athletes well being etc.).

Conducting training intervals sets using power zones is probably the most effective way of producing improved performance within the cyclist yet to date few Triathletes have picked up on this technique due to a combination of ignorance of the practice, the cost of power meters and fear of data and analysis.

One of the coaches at the forefront of this technique is Hunter Allen and he has just released a new book on the subject “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” with his colleague Dr Andrew Coggan Phd.

 

In this article first article in a series to to featured on Trizone, Hunter looks at the fundamentals of what is a power meter, and why you should own one:

“What is a power meter?  You might have heard about these things and you can’t open a single cycling website or magazine now without seeing a pro cyclist and one on their bikes, but what is it, what does it do and why would I want one?

 
First off, a power meter is a measuring tool.  It measures the torsion(twisting) of a bicycle part that has been twisted as a result of your pedaling.  This can be measured in the ‘spider'(bit between the chain rings and the crank) , or in the hub, on the twisting of the chain itself and there is even a new company coming out with pedals that will measure your power.  

Power is torsion(twisting) multiplied by angular velocity and angular velocity in cycling is cadence or how fast you pedal.  Power is output in watts, and you probably have heard of cyclists referring to the wattages on a climb, in a race or even on TV.  So, when you hear that Lance Armstrong can hold 450 watts for an hour, then know that 450 watts is really, really hard to do for 5 minutes, much less an hour! The typical trained cyclist can average 250 watts for an hour, keep in mind that this is also dependent on weight, so a cyclist that weighs 115lbs(52kg) and produces 250 watts for an hour has a much higher power to weight ratio (4.8 watts per kilogram), than a rider that weighs 180lbs(81kg) for a power to weight ratio of  3.0 watts per kilogram. 

Power to weight ratio is king in cycling, so the amount of watts per kilogram of body weight that a cyclist can produce is incredibly important to their success.   Wattage is the measure of work that you can do on a bicycle and while heart rate can be used to measure intensity of effort, it is dependent on rest, hydration of the rider, outside heat and humidity and heart rate is a response mechanism to work.   Wattage is the ‘dose’ and heart rate is the ‘response’.   If you are or have been training with a heart rate monitor, then you are basing your training on a ‘response’.  But, what has been the cause of that response?  Why did your heart rate go to 150?   Was it because a dog just chased you?  Was it because you just did a hill sprint?  Was it because you are just hyped up and merely sitting on the start line ready for the race to begin?    Heart rate gives us some information, but does not tell us how much work you are doing and that’s what a power meter does. 

Here are some other key reasons that a power meter will help you improve your cycling!

1. Training with a power meter gives you a complete record of your effort.
It records your effort from a cardiovascular viewpoint (Heart rate), and from a muscular viewpoint (watts). Know how much time you’ve spent in your training zones while riding. Highlight areas of interest, intervals of data – hills, sprints, attacks for review by you, your coach or even your teammates!

2. Add real meaning to your heart rate monitoring.
Heart monitoring alone does not tell you how your actual performance is improving, it just tells you how fast your heart is pumping. A power meter measures your rate of work (power), and analyzes your efficiency by allowing you to compare heart rate data to power output to your cadence and finally to your speed.

3. Track your Fitness Changes.
Know with certainty if your fitness is improving and when you have reached a peak. Avoid overreaching and over training by tracking your Training Stress Score and Intensity Factor levels.

4. Analyze your Race!
Want a subjective viewpoint on your use of energy in the race? A power meter can help you better analyze your race. You can easily see when you burned a “match” and if you used too much energy in parts of the race that weren’t decisive. Did you make a tactical error in a race, but didn’t realize it? By looking back on the data, you can replay the race in your head and see exactly what it took to make the winning break or what it took to make the decisive split. If you got shelled, you can see where you need to focus your training!

5. Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
Do you get dropped when your cadence drops below 80rpm? Are you a Cat 1 in your 5 minute power, but Cat 4 in your 20 minute power? If you have to do 105% of your Threshold power for more than 3 minutes, will you get popped?

6. Improve your interaction with your Coach!
It brings you and your coach closer together! Your coach can then better use this data to improve your training plan. Your coach can instantly see what you are doing in races, training rides and make suggestions to further improvements. A power meter doesn’t lie!

7. Achieve your physical potential!
When you train with a power meter, it allows you to concentrate on the workload and provide that extra motivation to improve in your efforts. For example, if you are doing a 5 minute effort, and you are watching your Average watts drop near the end of the effort, you’ll pick it up just another notch in order to achieve your 5 minute wattage goal.

8. Test your position and aerodynamics.
Your body position is the single greatest factor in determining your speed while riding at a specific power output. Why risk the disadvantage of a poor position when you can measure your aerodynamics and discover your fastest position!

9. Pacing of efforts.
It allows you to pace your effort better in all of your interval workouts, hill climbs and time trials. When you know your threshold power, you can hold to it like glue in a time trial or hill climb, so you will know that you went as hard as you could possibly go.

10. Mobile Testing Lab!
A power meter allows you to test on a monthly basis, so you can quantitatively see what areas you have improved on and what still needs work. Training is testing, Testing is training.

11. Record your training data every few seconds.
It’s the true diary of your every ride! You will know what you were doing almost every second of the ride!

12. Enhance your indoor training.
Use your indoor trainer to the fullest extent! Highly focus your intervals in just the exact wattage zone for optimal improvement.

13. Coordinate your sports nutrition for best performance.
Knowing how much work (in kJ) you do in training allows you to plan your post-exercise meals to the kcal. You will recover faster and be able to train harder sooner.

14. PLAN, CONTROL AND EXECUTE your training like the pros.
 Train efficiently so that your best fitness peaks at your goal events. Every top cycling performance has been aided by the use of power meter training technology Tour de France winners, Hour records, Track records, HPV records.

Hunter Allen is a USA Cycling Level 1 coach and former Professional Cyclist. He is the co-author of “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”, co-developer of TrainingPeaks WKO+ Software, and is the CEO and Founder of the Peaks Coaching Group. He has coached over 500 athletes ranging from professionals to fitness enthusiasts, and has helped many athletes achieve dreams and goals that they didn’t think were possible.  He specializes in coaching cyclists with wattage meters and is on the forefront coaching with cycling’s newest tool.   He has online training programs available at www.TrainingPeaks.com/hunter   and you can contact Hunter directly www.PeaksCoachingGroup.com

 

 

 

Articles on training-related topics represent the personal opinions of the author based on their own experience and research. trizone.com.au provides these for your review and consideration, but does not endorse any particular recommendations of the authors.

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Quintana Roo Unveils Its All-New PRsix Disc Triathlon Bike

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American Bicycle Group (ABG), the manufacturer of award-winning high-performance bicycles – Litespeed (LS) and Quintana Roo (QR) – this week unveiled its all-new PRsix Disc Series of triathlon bikes at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona. Disc brakes enhance safety and reliability and are opening the door to improved wheel designs. With the PRsix Disc, there is no longer any restriction on rim shapes and tire sizes. The PRsix Disc is available in five colours – electric blue, neutron, atomic orange, teal, red, black/stealth – and limited colours and sizes are available now. The full line will be available in December 2017.

With no-nonsense braking, easy wheel changes, no rim width adjustments, and thru-axles front and rear, the PRsix Disc is stiffer than ever before and virtually eliminates wheel slip. New internal brake cable routing (front and rear) makes for a clean and more aero overall profile. The PRsix Disc is ready for new levels of aerodynamics, traction, and aero position comfort while racing at any distance.

According to ABG engineer Brad Devaney: “The placement of the callipers is unique and no-nonsense, and avoids gimmicks in the way of shrouds and covers. The rotors are incredibly aero efficient, and because of that, we’ve chosen not to add surface area and complexity. QR remains focused on efficient leading edges of the fork. For the rear brake, we’ve parlayed the LEA technology, which makes the non-drive side chainstay better than invisible. With no leading edge and an optimized ‘sail effect’ surface, we’ve nestled the calliper out of the amplified flow created by our SHIFT+ downtube orientation. I’m super excited to see the linking of technologies integrate so well in our latest design.”

“I’m thrilled about what we have done here,” said Peter Hurley, president, American Bicycle Group. “Our engineering staff has created a bike that is unlike any other in the market. The disc configuration they developed is a huge step and means that changing rim shapes no longer requires brake adjustment. We think it’s the best design ever.”

The PRsix Series, including the Disc, are nearly do-it-yourself bikes when it comes to mechanical fixes and shipping. No need to pay for specialized services when only two sizes of Allen wrenches and a basic knowledge of bike mechanics is needed. Easy to disassemble, ship and reassemble.

The new PRfive and PRsix Series bikes are painted and assembled at ABG’s 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Chattanooga, TN. QR is offering a frameset for $4,295 and has two bike versions – Shimano Ultegra Di2 disc with carbon race wheels for $9,595 and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc with carbon race wheels for $12,495, all of which can be preordered today.

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Review: KuaiFit Multisport headphones, not your usual set of sports headphones

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The complicated and over catered for sports headphone market is certainly jam-packed with products competing for your aural dollar. Most of the headphones are simply ‘sportified’ copies of the standard headphone (with a price tag to match), with limited, if any benefit to a multi-sport athlete.  Most of us will appreciate the frustration the first time you try to run without an ear loop on your headphones and the tinny base marketed as a safety feature!  Kuaiwear the company responsible for the KuaiFit headphones take a drastically different approach to the market, their multisport headphones are developed as a training enabler, providing real-time feedback, coaching, and improvement plans all while providing a decent set of headphones to blast Tay Tay to your heart’s content.

Models, Options & Pricing

The KuaiFit headphones currently come only in a sweat resistant run, bike and gym dry land multi-sport model, which is the focus of this review. Kuaiwear tells me that there is a swimming model due to be released Q1 2018 rounding out the appeal for triathletes, something we will update you on when they are released.  The KuaiFit headphones current retail for $159 USD on Amazon.  You can also buy the headphones with an ANT+ Cadence sensor for $209 USD or the Cadence sensor later for $49 USD, which when compared to the standalone and compatible Garmin GSC-10 is a bit at the expensive end of town.

Update: – Amazon currently have both the swimming model available for pre order and the base non swimming version.

Unboxing, construction & Fit

The first thing that strikes you when opening up the Kuaifit box is the size of the headphones, and they’re huge.  This has to do with Kuaiwears decision to enable changes to the heart rate, plan and in-flight programme and music without the need for an app, more on this in a minute, but the inclusion of physical switches is a welcome one.  The large loop fits snugly over your ear (excuse my ear and grey hair in the picture), and I couldn’t help feeling that these would look great next time I was to get assimilated by the Borg.

I did multiple runs and bikes with these headphones with some significant efforts thrown in, and they stayed in place throughout, an impressive feat, granted I did get some strange looks and a few questions!

Lots of toys in the box

Also, makes you more attractive at your next comic convention.

The earphones come with the standard set of interchangeable earpieces, depending on the size of your ‘ere oles’ and they all feel very comfortable.

The headphones can be recharged using a standard Micro USB charging port under one of the earbuds, as you can tell this design will certainly keep the sweat out.

Update – Post review Kuaiwear tell me that the USB port has been waterproofed to 5m to provide an added layer of protection for the base unit.

Great decision by Kuaiwear to have manual buttons on the headset.

Sweat resistant charging port under the earpiece.

Background and Framework

KuaiFit was successfully funded on KickStarter back in 2015 and shipped in 2017. They are more of an integrated system than a pair of headphones with multiple parts which I will talk about individually. In summary, its comprised of a set of sports headphones with an integrated Heartrate Monitor, a website used to track stats and plans, a phone App (Apple and Android) for real-time visual feedback and a desktop App for syncing music and maps (in the future).

Setup

The first step is to establish a user account on the Kuaifit website, used to download plans, manage your activities and settings.  The App on your phone, is your real-time visual interface into your headphones, displaying metrics such as Heart rate and cadence.  Finally, you have your headphones, which you pair with your phone as a regular set of Bluetooth headphones.  The process isn’t particularly onerous and well documented. However, you do find yourself jumping around websites and phone functions a fair bit with the overall process taking me 20 minutes or so.  The headphones strangely come pre-loaded with some euro trance music and ‘train-esque’ easy rock which plays during setup and whenever you start the App, presumably to get you in the mood.

Headphones, Sound Quality & pairing options

A good pair of sports headphones need to be able to blast out your tunes to keep you motivated, right? Well, the KuaiFit headphones are surprisingly full-featured. The headphones have 8GB of memory inbuilt, enough for 1,500 songs (more than sufficient for an Ironman build), but it can also actively stream music over Bluetooth.  Once the tunes are cranking through the headphones, they provide clear audio, high volume, and solid bass. Something that’s important when you’re trying to blast out 150 BPM running bangers. Overall even without the training capabilities, these are a solid set of sports headphones.

One thing to take into consideration is that most of the earpieces for me almost entirely blocked out any external sound. I didn’t mind this running. However, it did make me feel uncomfortable riding outside.  Now I’m not a big fan of riding with headphones anyway, however, if you do, best to keep one out.

Kuaiwear tell me they have multiple earbuds available to help choose the amount of noise let in.  They were not present on the review unit, but suffice to say they should give you some control over the noise.

Stated playtime is 7 hours, and I found that the be pretty much bang on, so props there.

An innovative feature in the integrated heart rate monitor (HRM) within the headphones themselves. It’s an interesting decision to do so, and I initially wondered how it could produce an accurate measurement given the position. However, the science supports it seamlessly and accurately captured my max heart rate and in-flight heart rate as accurately as my Garmin does. When you are ready to go, you just select the activity using your controls and start the session using either the headphones standalone or via the mobile app.

Once in a session, you use the buttons on the side to adjust heart rate zones with the earphones providing real-time feedback as to where you are currently are against the zones.  If a training plan is in place, it will dynamically range and alert you if you are overperforming or underperforming.

The headphones also act as an ANT+ receiver, automatically detecting ANT+ devices near the unit and presenting them via the mobile App. There is no way to set up a manual paring, which is a huge oversight by Kuaiwear – it gives us an indication as to the target market. More on this later.

The Kuaifit ear phones also send data via ANT+ and Bluetooth, allowing Gym equipment and Garmin devices to use the earphones as a heart rate monitor.  A cool feature that could conceivably see you removing the need of a dedicated Heart rate monitor.

I initially tested the device at my squads Mag Trainer session, the device automatically picks up sensors within range, whilst simple to use, it can cause some issues if there are multiple devices around.  This issue needs fixing in a future release.

Paring with devices is simple in concept however I had trouble connecting to my earphones to some devices, in particular, power meter’s (Rotor and  Vector) and could only get a cadence sensor reading from a Garmin GC – 10.  Some ability to troubleshoot connectivity would be welcome via the mobile app.

Website

Most likely your first point of call is the KuaiFit website. The bare-bones interface gives you access to your history with the standard set of activity stats. It also gives you the ability to customise individual alerts for each of the sports, calorie burn, heart rate levels, etc. The website and App doesn’t allow you to change your heart rate zones for each sport (you can overall), which again is a major problem for cyclists. Our achievable maximum heart rate on a bike is often 10-15 beats per minute lower than running, something that you cannot adjust. Therefore the cycling programmes and heart rate will always be higher than where it should be.

The website also gives you access to a series of training plans for both cycling and running which are well constructed with real-time feedback. However, there are only six plans available, focused towards beginners, with plenty in the pipeline

Multiple alerts and configurable metrics. Shame I cannot set zones per sport

Only six training plans are available at launch. Additional plans are reasonability priced.

Mobile Application

The mobile App provides real-time feedback depending on the activity. It captures heart rate and cadence and is easy to understand. It’s quite limited in its stats so far. However, I’m sure this will improve over time.

Simple, easy to use mobile app – perhaps a bit too simple.

Conclusion

As you can tell the headphones are very clearly a version 1 release product. As a runner I find these headphones quite a competent set, providing solid sound to keep me entertained. However, would I ditch my Garmin for them? No way…not yet anyway. The real-time feedback is nowhere near what I need as a runner (admittedly one obsessed with stats), and if anything, it just gets in the way of my tunes. The coaching features are simplistic and will work if you’re building up to your first 5km. As a cyclist, I found the device connectivity to be troublesome (Power Meters in particular) and with limited troubleshooting I found it to be a frustrating experience.

So would these work in the context of being a Triathlete? Not really, partially as these don’t support swimming as of yet and the features don’t meet my needs for the individual component sport, particularly cycling.

But would I buy a pair? ..well Yes. If you’re in the market for headphones, the build and audio quality put these at the top end of the market, competing at an audio level way beyond the price point. The real interesting aspect is that the headphones are a solid platform for Kuaiwear to build on.  The proof will be in the pudding to see if Kuaiwear continues to invest in the platform and deliver on the promise.  Looking forward to seeing the swimming version in the near future and the improvements to the overall framework!

Trizone Review
  • Price
  • Features
  • Usability

Summary

A solid set of Sports Headphones with great future potential.

Pros:

  • Solid set of headphones
  • Great bass
  • High levels of potential

Cons:

  • Generation 1 product
  • Cycling support misses the mark
  • No swimming support (yet)
3.0
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3 Reasons Why You Should Look at The New Wahoo Kickr + Kickr Climb

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The new Wahoo Kickr Climb is the best way to get more out of your indoor training thanks to increased bike compatibility and integration with real-time gradient training. New developments make your indoor training more realistic than ever before to enhance your fitness and make the most of your indoor training.

1. Your front wheel is replaced with a carbon steel attachment that simulates real-world elevation

Why is this cool?

When you pedal on your trainer, your whole bike will tilt in real-time according to the elevation of your route. If you pair Zwift with your Wahoo KICKR, you can climb the virtual hills of Watopia (One of Zwift’s awesome areas) If you thought Watopia’s peak was tough before, with KICKR Climb you’ll be exhausted to a whole new level.

If you don’t have Zwift, no worries. If you’ve saved a route on your ELEMNT, KICKR Climb can adjust your route according to the gradient of that route.

Why it’ll make you faster

You’ll have to stand up and adjust to new angles. You can work harder than on any other indoor trainer and get more out of your indoor sessions.

Climb works with the KICKR (2017 model only) and KICKR Snap.

2. 12×148 Thru axle compatibility

Why is this cool?

Your favourite bike can plug right into your indoor bike trainer without an adapter

Why this will make you faster

You can practice the toughest climbs on the actual bike you’ll ride outdoors, so you’ll know exactly what to do on race day.

3. Improved disc brake clearance

Why this is cool

More bikes are using disc brakes, so it’s likely the next bike you use on the KICKR will have disc brakes.

Why this will make you faster

You’ll get real-world practice with bikes with disc brakes indoors and outdoors. Simple.

Training indoors is the reality for most triathletes throughout the seasons, for post-race recovery and as a vital part of any training regime. The new Wahoo KICKR is the perfect way to maximise your indoor training and get fitter than the athletes next to you on the start line.

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Danish Start-up Launches the World’s First Custom Fitted Swimming Goggles

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New Danish technology has paved the way for the world’s first custom fitted swimming goggles, making the swimwear comfortable and 100 percent waterproof. The product is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter until October 31st.

Have you ever experienced water leakage or discomfort with your swimming google? Problems with swimming goggles are well known among professional swimmers, triathletes and fitness enthusiasts. But soon it will all belong to the past.

The Danish start-up THEMAGIC5 has developed a new groundbreaking technology that can 3D outline your face directly through your smartphone on THEMAGIC5’s app. Based on the 3D animation, your swimming goggles are custom fitted to perfectly match the shape of your face.

“It has been our ambition to develop the world’s best swimming goggles – completely custom fitted for you,” says Rasmus Barfred, Co-Founder of THEMAGIC5.

The product is on sale through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter until October 31st. THEMAGIC5 is targeting to sell around 1,000 goggles and raise 50.000 USD in capital.

Several World Championship swimmers have already begun using their custom fitted THEMAGIC5-goggles. Most recently at the World Cup in Budapest in July.

“We have the ambition to be the leader in the market globally. We have launched a product and technology that the world has never seen before. Therefore, of course, we are extremely pleased that our goggles have been well received by World Championship swimmers,” says Rasmus Barfred.

“Since I started using THEMAGIC5s swimming goggle I have not felt the urge to adjust my swimming goggles all the time. When you swim as much as I do, the irritation you get from your swimming goggle seems a part of the game. I am happy that this problem has finally been fixed so I can focus my attention on the joy of swimming,” says Marina Heller Hansen, Part of the Danish national team and participant at the 2017 FINA World Championships.

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CorSense​ ​HRV​ ​Monitor:​ ​Optimise​ ​Health​ ​and​ ​Fitness​ ​Without​ ​Wearables

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Elite HRV, creators of the popular heart rate variability (HRV) app and platform, has launched the CorSense via a global Kickstarter campaign.

CorSense is an HRV sensor that slips onto any size fingertip. With CorSense, in just two minutes/day, users can optimize nutrition, training, recovery, sleep and stress without the use of chest strap monitors or 24/7 wearables. HRV is a unique biomarker used by hundreds of thousands of coaches, athletes, clinicians, wellness seekers, and researchers. It is a comprehensive “check-engine light” for the body and mind that is also non-invasive and responsive. HRV is linked to biological aging, athletic performance, and risk of numerous chronic illnesses.

CorSense is a highly-accurate, easier, comfier, non-wearable alternative to chest-strap heart monitors, patches, ear-clips, fitness bands, and adhesives. Utilizing advanced sensor technology, CorSense slips onto a fingertip and automatically activates, senses the pulse waveform, syncs via Bluetooth, and transmits HRV data to any compatible HRV app.

“The number one request from our 130,000-plus users has been to make HRV tracking simpler and more comfortable without compromising accuracy. Based on this feedback, we designed CorSense from the ground up to precisely track HRV with no user intervention apart from slipping it onto their finger. CorSense does the rest.”

With CorSense and HRV, enhanced health, fitness and wellbeing takes just 2 minutes/day.

CorSense on the finger.

Using the new CorSense device along with the EliteHRV App.

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Do Your TrainingPeaks workouts in Zwift

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Are you a TrainingPeaks user and also love using Zwift on those days that aren’t great to be outdoors? Well, today marks a significant step forward for both companies as the integration just got a whole heap better for us.

Many of us are using TrainingPeaks because our coach uses it and they put the required workout information in there for us to complete (or not) plus it’s great for understanding certain key metrics.

From today, you can now do your TrainingPeaks Structured Training within Zwift without doing any fancy export/import or be recreating those sessions in Zwift – and hands up who has done that before? Just login to Zwift and make sure your account is linked to your TrainingPeaks account – you can check this on the connections page. If they are connected, disconnect and connect them again just to be safe. Next, make sure your workout has been saved via TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Builder.

Lastly, login to Zwift, select workouts, and find today’s workout under the TrainingPeaks dropdown. You’ll only see the workout for the current day, and it updates automatically each day.

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