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The latest Apple Watch integration makes custom workouts less of a headache

The latest Apple Watch integration makes custom workouts less of a headache

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Programming custom workouts can get tedious, so streamlining the process makes a lot of sense.

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Person looking at Training Peaks workouts import onto an Apple Watch Ultra 2
The new Training Peaks integration lets you directly import custom workouts from the Apple Watch.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

The holiday season is arguably not for training. The major races of the year are done! Yet Apple and TrainingPeaks are getting a head start on next year’s resolutions with a new integration that lets you directly import custom workouts to the watch.

If you’re unfamiliar with TrainingPeaks, it’s an app that helps endurance athletes find training plans for their next half marathon, triathlon — you name it. If you want, it also has a coaching service that matches you up with an accredited coach to customize your plan based on your individual schedules, performance, and needs. The idea is to take some of the guesswork out of what you should be doing to prepare for an event.

The integration itself is simple. It’s based on a new watchOS 10 API and it’s functionally similar to how Garmin Coach workouts just appear natively on a Garmin watch once you sign up for a program and sync your watch. All you have to do is enable the feature in the TrainingPeaks app’s settings and allow a few Apple Health permissions — all of which is very easy to do.

I got to try it out myself ahead of the official launch, and it’s definitely something that will appeal to folks who usually buy rugged multisport watches. (The Garmin crowd, if you will.)

Person looking at interval workout on Apple Watch Ultra 2
This kind of interval workout can be super annoying to program for the first time. With this, however, it was already loaded onto my watch when I woke up.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

The TrainingPeaks running workouts I tried are fairly standard for intermediate to advanced-level athletes. I was set up with a Premium account, so I was also able to see some coach feedback within the app. But what I enjoyed most was how it removed another barrier to rolling out of bed, lacing up my sneakers, and actually hitting the pavement. Analysis paralysis is real, and not having to think about what workout you’re going to do is a major boon to staying on track. Especially if you’re tired of flipping through multiple apps or websites to manage a single training plan.

For example, for my last half marathon, I was using a Runkeeper training plan but manually recording each workout on the Apple Watch and in the phone app. Was this highly inefficient? Absolutely, especially since Runkeeper has an Apple Watch app. My issue was I don’t like the Runkeeper Apple Watch app’s interface and much prefer the native Workout app’s workout views. But to get my preferred interface, it meant I had to program my own custom runs for interval or tempo runs on the Apple Watch. That gets real old real quick.

With the TrainingPeaks integration, there was none of that. When you open the workout app, you can see what the day’s workout is. The TrainingPeaks logo is clearly there, and if you tap the three-dot menu, you can check out further details about the workout or view upcoming workouts. When you’re done with a particular workout, that data is sent straight back to TrainingPeaks app itself, and you can view the results there or in Apple’s Fitness app.

It seems like a small thing, but streamlining all your fitness data and plans across multiple apps, devices, and platforms can be a pain. I’m a wearable reviewer and my own system is far from efficient. So it’s nice to see this kind of functionality come to the Apple Watch — and it’s a big one if Apple wants the Ultra to succeed in a category that’s been dominated by Garmin. Many endurance athletes aren’t using a single app or platform, and most other multisport watches have features and integrations that better accommodate personalized training.

However, we’ll have to see how many other third-party apps take advantage of this API. I, for one, did not love the TrainingPeaks app interface and while I liked the programming, I’m more inclined to stick with the apps I’m currently using. It’d be great if those apps made like TrainingPeaks and took advantage of the API in the same way. But even if a bunch do, the Apple Watch still has a ways to go before I think it’ll turn the heads of Garmin diehards. If it really wants to win those folks over, it’s going to have to tackle battery life and recovery tracking next.