Using your Apple Watch with Training Peaks & Strava

With the Apple Watch now on its 5th iteration, it is becoming a popular training device to record and track workouts. The biggest benefit to using an Apple Watch is that it has an optical heart rate sensor so no longer will you need to wear a heart rate monitor strap. I have owned the 1st generation and now I currently am using the Apple Watch Series 3 which came out September 2017. Apple has just released the Series 4 that is a bit slimmer and more comfortable to wear. It also gains you about 30 minutes of additional recording time brining it up to around 5 hours or so. I have reliably recorded my workouts up to 6 hours when it is fully charged. For anything longer I will use my Suunto or Wahoo Element.

This is not going to be a full review of the Apple Watch but quickly, it works well and has improved significantly with each model and software update. With the early versions, the heart rate monitoring was very erratic and not reliable. With the Series 3, it has become much more reliable and the Series 4 seems to take this a step further with more advance features such as ECG (electrocardiogram) and recognizing unusually high or low heart rates and Irregular heart rhythms also known as arrhythmias which could be signs of a serious condition. We also highly recommend the Apple Watch to monitor your sleep, receive notifications to stand when you have been sitting to long, as well as helpful reminders to practice and breathe calmly throughout the day.

Using and Uploading to Strava

Strava makes a great app to record your running, cycling, hiking and strength workouts. The app is downloaded to your iPhone and automatically synced to your Apple Watch. It uses all of the advance features of the watch, including its wrist based heart rate monitoring. Simply login to your Strava account on your phone, launch the app on your watch, select the workout and begin. When you complete your workout, hit the finish tab, tap save and it will automatically upload the workout to your Strava account. It is that simple and reliably works.

Uploading to Training Peaks

Now that you recorded your workout with the Strava app, we need to get it over to Training Peaks. There are a few applications out there that can help with that such as Workout Exporter and Fitness Syncer but these have not been all that reliable for me. Sometimes the GPS data will be missing or the data just wouldn’t match to the workout that was completed. These apps should improve in time with each app update from the developer so you can try them out for yourself and let us know how they are working for you. 

The best and most accurate way to get your recorded workout from Strava to Training Peaks is to create and export the TCX file for each individual activity. You do this by adding "/export_tcx" - without quotes - to the end of your activity page URL.  

For example, if your activity page is www.strava.com/activities/1876052722 - just add the text to give you www.strava.com/activities/1876052722/export_tcx and hit enter. This will download a TCX version of your file to the location specified by your browser's preferences. The tcx file will contain gps, heart rate and power data. Then just drag and drop this into your training peaks calendar. You can also export the GPX file but this will not contain your heart rate or power data.

For the iPhone user, the Apple Watch is a great companion. The only knock on it that I have and is pretty much my issue with all Apple products is the battery life. You will definitely get a full day+ of use out of it but I would like to see the workout recording ability pushed up to 20 hours as well as a full week of use.


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