5 Ways Data-Driven Training Optimizes Fitness

New endurance athletes start from zero when training for their sport. They need to learn what their body is capable of and, more importantly, what their brain is capable of. Jumping into a training plan for that first marathon, gravel ride, or triathlon, these athletes push blindly ahead, hoping for the best. 

Elite athletes have years of experience to draw from. They’ve gone through the learning process, figuring out what works for them, what doesn’t, and how to bounce back from injuries, illness, or even a long break from competition. But here’s the thing: Like novices, even top amateurs and pros are constantly tweaking their training and adapting it to the consequences of getting older and slower or, conversely, growing faster and stronger.

This is where the potential of AI-driven endurance sports training holds so much promise. Through machine learning and aggregation of data from your workouts and thousands of athletes just like you (same sex, same age, same sport, same fitness level, and so on), artificial intelligence optimizes every move you make, ensuring your effort and time are never wasted, even if it tells you to lie down and take a nap. 

5 Ways Data-Driven Training Can Optimize Your Fitness

Knowledge is power, but only if you put that knowledge to use. Here are some practical ways that AI technology does it for you.

1. Let’s Get Personal

Training through data analysis starts on day one. With an AI coach such as Humango, you enter your goal race. Let’s say it’s a half-marathon three months away. You plug in your available training slots and your fitness level. From there, the digital coach will design a customized training plan to get you across the finish line and get you there at your peak fitness level.

With AI training, you get a plan built around who you are right now, not a program that asks you to adapt to a general program built for 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds.

2. Real-Time Feedback and Adjustments

Even athletes who work with coaches deal with delays, waiting days or weeks or more before their coach analyzes the previous workouts and maps out the next training block. But with AI, the analysis and adjustments happen immediately. Based on the results of today’s workout, tomorrow’s workout will either remain the same, push you a little harder, or dial the intensity down so you can recover. Either way, the instant feedback ensures that every workout is the most productive and effective it can be.

3. Data-Driven Recovery

The popularity of sleep trackers has made millions aware of the power of good sleep. The same power applies to recovery and rest from your training. In fact, one could argue that the balance between pushing hard in training and allowing yourself enough time to recover is the most valuable insight a coach can provide. Negative adaptations — slower and less-powerful workouts, lack of sleep, irritability — are all signs that a good coach will spot before they destroy your progress. An AI coach will spot those trends before you feel them and adjust the training accordingly.

4. More Data Equals Better Training

As you work towards your race day, the AI coach keeps learning more about what makes you tick. Workout by workout, your training program becomes more uniquely relevant and customized for you and only you. For example, instead of arbitrary, high-intensity, all-out efforts of two minutes, the AI coach may start you at 75 seconds and gradually increase the length of them over time. In short, each day’s training becomes more finely tuned. And with each AI-powered training program you complete, the AI coach learns more about you so that year by year, you come closer and closer to the perfect plan.

5. Ability to Push Harder

Following on #4 above, as AI learns more about your capabilities, it will also learn how hard you should be able to push yourself in training — and in your goal event. In many cases, this may be harder than you think you’re capable of. And that’s a good thing. The difference is that AI coaching (and top endurance coaches in general) will guide you to those exceptional performances without burnout, allowing you to save your all-out efforts for the days they will produce maximum results, ideally on race day. The key is to trust your coach and see what your body can do, even if your mind thinks it can’t. 

Combine these five training optimizations, and you have the recipe for becoming the best athlete you can be and staying at the top of your game for years — if not decades.


New to Triathlon? An AI Coach Will Help

Triathlons demand stamina and the ability to excel at three different sports back-to-back-to-back: swimming, cycling, and running. As such, one could argue that triathletes are the most complete endurance athletes around. Becoming a successful one takes hard work and commitment. It also takes specialized gear. You need swim gear, a suitable bike, cycling gear, running shoes, and running clothes. You need regular pool access (and a lake for at least one open water swim practice) and bike maintenance and repair skills. You also need time to train and time to recover. For Ironman distance triathlons, it can take years to build up the endurance to consider training for the distance, much less tackle the event. But put all that together, and you’re ready to go. Now, all you need is a plan. That’s where an AI coach can help. 

Three Ways AI Will Make You a Better Triathlete

Below are three ways your triathlon dreams will benefit from having a tech-enabled coach to guide you to each finish line.

1. Set a Baseline.

Sprint triathlons are most newbies’ first entry into the sport. These short-distance races take top pro triathletes about an hour to finish and up to two hours for less fit or experienced athletes. The value of the sprint tri is that participants can finish the race with as little as 6-8 weeks of training. Free training plans are available all over the web. For most people, they work fine. But if you want to perform better than most people, AI can give you the edge you need.

You’ll see two benefits from using an AI coach to create and monitor your training. First, the AI coach will design a plan for your age, fitness level, and available training time. Your plan may not be perfect yet, but it’ll be magnitudes better than the free one you found on a website. Second, the data collected from each completed training session helps inform upcoming sessions, and it’s used to continually improve and build toward your next event, whether it’s another sprint tri, an Olympic distance triathlon, or a half-ironman distance triathlon.

2. Maximize the Gains From Each Workout From Day One.

AI can construct a progressive training program from the data culled during the training from your first tri. From the first week, you’ll see workouts you can complete successfully — even if they look hard at first glance. And if you have an off day or miss a workout, the digital coach will instantly adjust your schedule and workout intensities to account for the setback. The guesswork is gone. All you need to do is provide your AI coach with timely and accurate data to process.

As you get closer to race day, the training plan will taper your workouts to let you recover and grow stronger in preparation for the big day. Tapering is different for everyone, but AI learning gives you a guide for your physical transformation into a triathlete. It will custom-tune your taper, delivering you to race day rested, primed, and physically prepared for your best performance.

3. Race With Confidence, Not a Prayer.

Race day is where the power of AI coaching truly shines. Thanks to the weeks and months of training with an AI coach, you’ll hit the start line knowing that you’ll not only finish, you’ll be primed to achieve your personal best. What seemed like an ambitious goal at the start of your training is now a very real objective. All you need to do is believe it and believe in yourself.

If you’re prepping for your first foray into the world of triathlon or looking to level up in the next race, Humango’s AI-powered coaching app will make sure you’re ready. Then, instead of arriving at a triathlon race wondering how well you could do, you’ll know what you can do.


How Coaching Apps Help Anyone Achieve Their Fitness Goals

Apps make fitness success easy.

Today’s coaching apps cover nearly every aspect of an athlete’s journey from novice beginner to elite champion. Apps exist to track and monitor nutrition, sleep, and workouts, and the years of data collected by these apps have allowed the technology to improve steadily. Today, they can adjust training plans or fitness programs automatically to match a person’s endurance progression — or regression — as they work out. Many of the most popular training apps can automatically adjust workout intensities to reflect an improved fitness in terms of functional threshold heart rate and watts data (if on a bicycle with a power meter). 

Sounds great, right? It is, but these apps still rely on the endurance athlete to follow the plan. Real life has a way of fouling those plans. When these complications arise, a coaching app, especially an AI-powered app like Humango, can step in and keep that athlete on track to nail their fitness goal.

Keys to a Successful Training Program

It’s easy enough to sign up for a marathon, endurance gravel ride, or triathlon and grab a free training plan off the web. A goal race or event is the first step. To get to that start line will take more than a well-trained body. A person will need to demonstrate the following soft traits: Resilience, consistency, organization, drive, and focus. 

Successful endurance athletes are born with all of them or develop them over time and practice. An endurance coach can guide an athlete’s development of these traits. In fact, the ability to manage and manipulate these mental aspects of endurance sports is what separates decent coaches from great coaches.

Coaching from a Human or an AI-Powered App Is Still Coaching

AI-powered coaching apps can and do help athletes develop the soft traits mentioned above. Take resilience; AI can parse the data to see how a poor night’s sleep or 24-hour flu negatively affected the day’s performance and adjust the next day’s workout — or the next several — to be easier so that an athlete can recover adequately before starting again. That’s resilience.

This adjustment leads to the next trait, consistency. AI will adjust a training program to help an athlete stick to their schedule instead of burning out and quitting. Next, an athlete must be organized to stay consistent. AI’s ability to easily modify or switch workouts based on available training time ensures that an athlete has the time to get the work done. AI does the hard part of organizing training around an athlete’s life instead of forcing the athlete to organize their life around training.

Drive may seem unrelated to a coaching app, but research shows that a coaching app’s ability to hold users accountable — even if it’s just to themselves — is as effective as that of a human coach. Focus on the immediate task (i.e., the workout) is the last trait AI can help with. With AI’s ability to pull data from years of workouts, it can build a workout program that seems complex at the outset but serves to hold the athlete’s attention and, yes, focus.

It’s All About the Data

A coaching app processes and applies the same data as a human coach to its suggestions. For example, take a runner who fails to do the last two hard pieces of a workout at the assigned pace and intensity. A coach will note that failure and adjust the next training session accordingly. An AI-powered coaching app takes it a step further, instantly drawing on weeks, months, or even years of similar occurrences to ensure the program adjustment doesn’t set the athlete back too far on their road to recovery. AI also won’t push the athlete too hard or too fast based on the data.

In the scenario above, one core benefit of the AI coaching app is speed. The athlete will know how their training program will change as soon as the workout data gets uploaded to the app. There’s no need to wait 24 hours or a week for a human coach to review the data and draw up a new training program. This instantaneous feedback keeps the athlete motivated, driven, and focused. It removes that kernel of doubt that may creep in while they wonder what’s next.

If all this sounds easy, it is, except for one big caveat: the athlete must apply the same soft traits of consistency, organization, drive, and focus to collecting and uploading their workout data as they do to their sport. Without consistent, reliable data, the coaching suffers — whether from a human or an AI coach. Collecting and sharing data can be difficult for athletes when the data doesn’t show progress. Frustration and doubt start to rear their ugly heads. But these times are when a coach who can guide an athlete back on track is most valuable. Training is easy when things go well; not so much when they don’t. When game plans go sideways, having and listening to a coach will make the difference.


How AI Will Make a Better Endurance Athlete

Humango uses artificial intelligence to elevate endurance training and boost athletic performance.

Endurance sports have long pushed the leading edge of coaching and technology. Think Bill Bowerman of University of Oregon Track fame, who famously moved U.S. runners’ training for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City to the higher altitude of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, to prepare his athletes for competing at altitude in Mexico City. He later started Nike with the goal of engineering a better running shoe. Over the decades, training technology has only gotten better. We now have heart rate monitors to track the intensity of efforts, GPS units to track speed, distance, and efficiency, and bicycle power meters to measure watts. Artificial intelligence, (AI) promises to bring all that data together and help marathon runners, ultra runners, cyclists, triathletes, and other endurance athletes — plus their coaches — perfect their training.

The Endurance Coach

Athletes who hire a coach to help them achieve their best results can pay thousands of dollars a year for the guidance. The coach designs a training program and then monitors the progress. The most important benefit they provide is knowing when to dial back efforts to avoid burnout or injury and when to push an athlete through a mental block to reach their full potential. The difference between the two is what makes an effective coach. Data helps the coach determine whether a bad training day came from a poor night’s sleep, a bad mood, or over-training. 

Artificial intelligence can process the same data to arrive at the same conclusions. And like the coach, AI can adjust an athlete’s training program to compensate for that poor training day, a sick day, or a week where an athlete can’t train for some reason. A 2022 study published in the online journal PLUS One found that AI coaches were as effective as human coaches in helping people reach a goal. The caveat is that this goal has to be focused and specific, with a clearly identified pathway to success and easily obtainable data to measure progress — exactly what training plans deliver. 

The Novice Athlete’s Shortcut to Their Best Performance

Put simply, endurance training — and coaching — is about managing fatigue. Building endurance means pushing back the moment when fatigue sets in. Most free training plans, even the best-designed ones, factor in a perfect training program where the athlete eats well, sleeps well, and never misses a workout. Unfortunately, life never works that way. A work trip blows a hole in the week’s most important workout. A bout of COVID knocks out weeks of fitness. Managing these setbacks is where coaches really earn their pay.

But cost is the main benefit of the AI endurance coach. Instead of spending thousands of dollars a year, motivated athletes can deploy an AI coach to guide them through their training for a fraction of the price, flu bugs and family vacations be damned. And because of the low cost, novices and beginners to the sport can employ AI to train smarter instead of following the usual years of trial-and-error until injury or simple frustration leads them to invest in a coach.

AI Coaching Still Needs Real Coaches

This new AI-powered era won’t bring the end of human coaching. Successful coaches will always retain the unquantifiable soft skills that no data set can capture. The word of encouragement spoken at the right moment to push an athlete out of their comfort zone or the confident command to take a day off and not feel guilty about it, these are the subtle nuances that require the human touch. Still, AI puts a powerful tool in the coach’s toolbox. AI can now review data quickly and handle the tedious and time-consuming process of rejiggering a training program based on the results. In short, a human coach assisted by an AI coach should be a more effective and efficient coach. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.