Friday, October 2, 2009

How TrainingPeaks Came to Be

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the founding of TrainingPeaks. Needless to say, I’m quite proud of how it has progressed. It came about, in part, because I was on vacation and bored…

In the fall of 1994 I was on much-deserved vacation with my wife on Grand Cayman Island. We were staying a cottage on Seven Mile Beach, still one of my favorite places on the planet, and every day we would spend at least a few hours just lay on the sand watching the waves come in. I got a little bored of this after the first day and started messing around with my laptop under a palm tree. I had been wanting to come up with a better way of communicating with the athletes I coached. But time to work on the project had been limited. Now I had some time. I had been painstakingly typing documents and faxing or mailing these daily workouts and weekly training overviews to my athletes for many years. It was a bit time-intensive.

On my laptop I had a software program called FileMaker Pro which I used that week to create a layout with several fields. Each field had a drop down menu with associated macros for sport (swim, bike, run, etc), workout descriptions, workout durations, coach comments and fields for the athlete to record details such as time by heart rate zone and diary information.

By 1999 my son, Dirk, had joined me as a coach so he was also using the FileMaker Pro form I had come up with in '94 and had since refined a bit. We were still faxing and mailing the training schedules to our client-athletes. We tried attaching them to emails but that didn’t work too well. So it was still a tedious process for us and the athletes, but it was better than typing out all of the workouts and other details for every day's training.

That year Dirk became a bit frustrated and suggested there had to be a better way. He asked if he could pursue improving the system with the help of a close friend - Gear Fisher. Gear was a local whiz with html stuff and Dirk thought he may be able to streamline the process for us.

He did. In a few weeks Gear had a web-based program set up designed just like the FileMaker Pro layout I had come up with five years previously on the beach in Cayman. This was basically what we today call the "Classic View" for TrainingPeaks.

At first this program was just for our coaches and me, but it soon became apparent that it had a lot of merit and, even better, no one else had anything nearly as powerful. It was unique in many ways. So in 2000 we decided to take it public by selling subscriptions. Gear kept his day job and worked on it at night from the computer in his bedroom. In the spring of 2001 I wrote out the first payroll check to Gear and we felt like we had a business rather than just a hobby. It's been growing strongly ever since.

I have continued to focus on coaching and had very little to do with the operations of the company. The credit for our growth goes to Dirk, Gear, our CEO Donavon Guyot, and our employees over the last several years. They have grown TrainingPeaks well beyond what any of us imagined in 2000 when we took it to market. I am still in awe of what it does for coaches and athletes. And the things I see coming down the line are even more amazing. The best is yet to come.

You can find out more about the origins of TrainingPeaks


At October 2, 2009 9:42 AM , Blogger iMULTISPORT said...

There's always a catalyst that brings about new things. Thanks for sharing yours!

At October 2, 2009 10:51 AM , Blogger mld said...

I still remember receiving an invite e-mail for one the complimentary accounts when launched! To have this website to accompany the TB book was a blessing! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us for some many years! Joe-Knows!

At October 5, 2009 4:49 AM , Anonymous Ferde said...

Hi Joe, how do you know when it's time to move on from the novice phase of training? For example you indicate aerobic endurance is the ability to maintain a low to moderate intensity for a long time. Can you further quantify this?

At October 5, 2009 6:49 AM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Ferde--Read this -

At October 13, 2009 6:58 AM , Anonymous Jordan R. said...

Interesting that the origins were based on FileMaker (I assume on a Mac?). Any hope for a Mac native version of WKO+ in the future? :)


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