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TrainingPeaks: Coronavirus has riders following more training plans than ever

Training plans up 100 percent this spring, and virtual training sessions up 400 percent in April.

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It’s been a strange year for riding bikes, with the global coronavirus pandemic changing so many things about our lives. But this spring, cyclists are following more training plans than ever, according to February through April data from software company TrainingPeaks. Virtual training has continued to explode, with TrainingPeaks reporting a 400-percent increase in virtual sessions uploaded in April 2020 versus April 2019.

Where typically TrainingPeaks’ customers back off training plans in the spring and jump into racing, this year TrainingPeaks saw a 100-percent increase in its users applying training plans to their accounts from February through April, compared to the prior year.

When stay-at-home orders first starting going out around the United States, TrainingPeaks saw a doubling in the number or training plans applied.

TrainingPeaks software tracks and analyzes workouts on a micro and macro level, and can be used without a training plan. But many riders use the software, particularly in the fall and winter, to follow specific training plans.

“In the spring, historically, virtual training is declining,” said TrainingPeaks founder and former pro rider Dirk Friel. “This March, we saw a 60-percent increase in riders uploading files from Zwift. Then, in April, we saw a 400-percent increase.”

TrainingPeaks has seen a huge increase in riders following training plans well into the spring as the coronavirus has eliminated racing from the calendar.

While the increase in Zwift probably isn’t too surprising to those in the cycling community — online riding and racing were great options for those stuck at home and missing races. But what about the spike in those following training plans. What are people training for with races postponed or canceled across the world?

“At the root of it, a lot more people started looking for structure,” Friel said. “Where in the past, they went with weekday group rides, and weekend group ride. Now, I think, people want to be able to control a part of their life that otherwise they can’t control. At least they want to make the most of that 90-minute workout. How can I take advantage of this time to become a better athlete? Not just cycling, the language software Duolingo I heard is going crazy. It’s all about self-improvement. If you don’t have an event, people are making the process the goal.”

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