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Getting started with WKO4

TrainingPeaks released their WKO4 training analysis software a bit over a year back. Support for the older WKO3 is phasing out – sync with TrainingPeaks data ended Mar 1, and license activations will be disabled in 2018. Existing installs will still work, but you won’t be able to install on a different system. An upgrade to WKO4 is inevitable if you want to stay in the TP ecosystem.

The TP brain trust has rebuilt WKO from the ground up for this iteration. It is a powerful analytical tool to gain the most insight from training (and especially power) data. If you can dream up the question, WKO4 likely has the tools to find its answer. This power of course comes with a price: expect a steep initial learning curve. The documentation online is getting better all the time but the sheer volume is intimidating. Much of it comes by way of 30-75 minute videos. So, this is a simple getting started primer with an overview of the key concepts. I’ll point out a few gotchas I encountered and how to work around them. I won’t go into interface nuances, those are best explained by the author’s documentation.

First you need data. Getting data into WKO4 is simple in most but not all situations. It depends where your data currently resides.

Reference for updating sync settings and athlete metrics.

Here are some use cases and best ways to get your data into WKO4.

Case 1: all your data is on TrainingPeaks.

This is the easiest case. Just set WKO4 up to sync with TrainingPeaks on the athlete details page and all your files are brought in. You will need to go back and retroactively input historical FTP, weight and any other metrics you care to track.

Case 2: all your data is in WKO3.

This also an easy setup. Import your WKO3 data on WKO4 installation, or after installation by drag/drop all WKO3 data on to WKO4 and choose the athlete profile to receive it. Once all your data is in your WKO4 profile, setup sync with TP if you so choose and all your data will get pushed out to TP.

Case 3: you have data in WKO3 and in TrainingPeaks, and you want to import your historical FTP & weight from WKO3.

This is the complicated setup with some potential gotchas. This was my situation. I imported everything from WKO3 on install, then setup sync with TP. What came next was many years of duplicated data. WKO4 did not recognize that the same workout on TP and in WKO were in fact the same, and created as many as 3 duplicates. Here is what finally worked for me.

  • Import everything from WKO3
  • Go to your WKO4 data folder (help->locations->data store), then into the folder of your username
  • Remove all of the annual folders containing .wko4 files, placing into a temp folder somewhere. This step preserves your FTP history and clears all workouts.
  • Setup syncing with TP. From the “athlete details” report edit the TrainingPeaks athlete field by entering your login and set it to sync (upload & download). Syncing should begin immediately, if it doesn’t go to tools-> sync with trainingpeaks. This will take some time depending on the length of your history on TP. I had ~ 20 years of data that took several hours 😉
  • In settings you can have it sync every hour, only on open, or manually.
  • After the initial sync successive syncs will only look back 90 days. If you need it to sync farther back, set your TrainingPeaks athlete to “do not sync”, then set it back to sync (you’ll need to login again). It should sync everything again.
  • If you have any workouts remaining in WKO3 that are not on TP you’ll need to re-import those workouts.

Congratulations, you have data now! What’s next?

First, go here to get familiar with the interface. Once you understand how the left panel navigates athletes and workouts, and the right hand panel navigates time we can move on.

There are two primary views.

  • at the “athlete level” the athlete name is in the left hand panel, and the data displayed in the center is scoped by the timeframe selected in the right hand panel
  • at the “workout level”, reached by a double-click on an athlete name, lists workouts. The right hand panel contains ranges within the workout (laps or manually created ranges, best power for specific durations etc).

The new WKO4 metrics

Dr Andrew Coggan has literally reinvented power analysis science once again. His proprietary algorithms form the basis for the new WKO metics. The software will parse your ride files and construct a mathematical “best fit” curve of your mean maximal data for a specified time range (90 days for the hero metrics at the top of the app). This is called your Power Duration (PD) curve. The magic happens using Coggan’s black-boxed algorithms to solve this curve for parameters that help guide training decisions based on your specific physiological attributes. These parameters are:

  • PMAX. As it sounds, max 1 rev power
  • FRC. Functional reserve capacity, the amount of work you can do above threshold
  • mFTP. This is your modeled FTP.
  • TTE. Time to exhaustion, an estimate of how long you can hold mFTP
  • Stamina. A measure of your capabilities beyond TTE

iLevels are a set of training levels derived from your PD curve. These are front and center in the app on the athlete details report. They give guidelines for how hard to go and for how long to improve specific aspects of fitness, all tailored to you.

This is a complete paradigm shift. In Coggan’s previous training schema a set of descriptive training levels were created. They described a wide range of values that could work. The new iLevels are prescriptive and based on your specific physiology & data. iLevels prescribe specific power targets and durations on an individual basis.

You can choose to use the old schema and training levels are computed from your manually set FTP as was done previously. iLevels however are computed based on your power duration curve and can not be edited.

This really is a game changer!

Practical tips and suggestions

OK, enough theory, let’s get practical.

You can build about any chart you can think of from your data. Building charts is similar to using charts and built-in functions in Excel. They’ve created a set of custom statistical, physiological and utility functions to code in whatever you want. Sound complex? Fortunately there are hundreds of shared charts and reports to get you started.

Tips when getting started:

  • iLevels and the PD curve parameters are only as accurate as the completeness of your data. IOW, you need maximal efforts over a range of durations. At a minimum you want 5 sec, 1 min, 5 min and ~ 25 min test values. Every MMP (mean max power) on your power curve asserts “pressure” on every other part of the curve. When I first got going in earnest with it, I had a great 1 min test but didn’t have a good 5 min point. This put mFTP about 30W below actual which drove me nuts for a while! So to make the most of it you must test. Once you get a good baseline of testing you can base test durations on finding low points in your MMP curve relative to your PD curve. Everything needs to be current in a 90 day rolling window to have accurate values.
  • I recommend creating workout ranges in TP before syncing data; they are preserved on sync. The app’s interface has significant lag on charts
  • Use the search feature for charts you want to use, they probably already exist. If not, find something similar and modify it.
  • Some charts take a long time to render. There is a lot of data crunching going on for every view. Use the smallest time range that gets to what you are after. For example: it takes about 15 minutes to render my historical mFTP and FRC for the past 15 years.
  • Organize collections of similar charts inside a dashboard chart. Once created it will be blank.
    Dashboard chart in WKO4

    Dashboard chart in WKO4

    Open up the configure panel and add charts to it and they will stack in miniature. Here is one I use for PD curves.

    PD curve dashboard

    PD curve dashboard

  • PMC is still the bomb. Search for a chart at the athlete level called “planned CTL, ATL, TSB” by Tim Cusick. You can then enter planned workouts and forecast your PMC (or sync with TP to bring in planned TSS values)
  • Frame your inquiries clearly before starting new charts. Clutter can creep up quickly.
  • Take in some of the WKO4 webinars or recorded webinars on youtube. Some of these go way beyond using software. Openness and knowledge sharing is going full steam.

Good luck on your WKO4 adventure! Keep an open mind with a dose of patience and all will go well.