A chamois for the office?

Who said you couldn't kit up at the office? I guess it helps if the office is a parking lot with a van and a few folding chairs. 

TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3 with CrossOver Mac 8

[Update Jan. 29, 2012: The usefulness of running WKO+ on Mac via CrossOver has run its course. Updates to CrossOver Mac (v. 9–10) have rendered the process described below unusable and Mac OS (10.7 Lion) requires you run CrossOver Mac 10. Unfortunately a functional work around has not been found. Unless you have access to running the versions of software noted below, this process is no longer recommended; it may appear that everything is working properly until the final steps where you actually try to run WKO+ at which point it fails. And as the comments show, many gotchas have popped up over time as new devices come to market that have made a working CrossOver setup a fast moving target to pin down.

As result, I am now running WKO+ on my MacBook Pro by using Windows 7 Professional running inside the VMware Fusion 4 virtualization software. I have also heard from multiple people that Parallels Desktop 7 virtualization software works well. It is important to note that I have 8GB of RAM installed—lots of RAM will make a huge difference for running a virtualization set up for WKO+. This setup isn't as clean as it was with CrossOver but I can still manage just one computer for my primary work. I do have a recent model basic Windows laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium with another install of WKO+, and I can say that my VMware setup runs much faster so overall this Mac setup works great.

[Update Jan. 24, 2011: Updates have been made to this post since it originally was posted in January 2010 to include some subtle updates. The following information presents using version 8 of CrossOver Mac. Version 9 is now the current version but has been generally reported to not work well with WKO+. If you've had success with version 9 of CrossOver Mac, please post your experience in the comments.]

Let me cut to the chase: running TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3 with Mac CrossOver 8 is pretty easy. You have a Mac and want to run WKO+ without messing with Windows? Just keep reading.

Some background...

In early 2009 I posted step by step instructions for running TrainingPeaks WKO+ on a Mac using only CrossOver Mac—no Bootcamp, Parallels, or other installations of Windows needed. I figured it could be helpful for others but was surprised at just how popular, especially considering it wasn’t the most straight forward process. Success varied, but it showed there was a big interest for Mac users to run a Mac-only solution.

The original post used TrainingPeaks WKO+ 2 and CrossOver Mac 7, and both have since moved to newer versions. I was very interested in upgrading to TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3, but I was afraid the setup wouldn’t work. Given all the advantages of my working set up (not installing, maintaining, protecting, backing up or running Windows in any way), I was hesitant. But as with all things foolish I figured, “Let’s just see what happens?” Since then I've updated again to the latest version of WKO+ 3 and am now seemlessly syncing my WKO+ data for multiple athletes between my Mac setup and Windows setup using Dropbox. Drop me a line if you're interested in more details on that. If you want more background on the project, check out the original post.

The process...

I said this was pretty simple. But it’s not Steve Jobs simple. Downloading from your device directly to WKO+ doesn’t work out of the box, so you’ll need a separate Mac-native application to do that. But generally, all you need is:
  • Desire to run WKO+ without ever starting up Windows
  • Mac with an Intel processor
  • TrainingPeaks Device AgentGoldenCheetah, Garmin Training Center, PowerAgent, or other software to download data from your power meter or heart rate monitor. I recommend TrainingPeaks Device Agent for it's simplicity of installation (included needed drivers for various devices) and the fact that it supports lots of devices. The drivers Device Agent installs will work in GoldenCheetah, too, if you choose to use it.
  • CrossOver Mac version 8 (30-day free trial, $40); version 9 is the current version but those buying a license should be able to access version 8 and the old version may be available by hunting around the Codeweavers website
  • TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3 (30-day free trial, $129)
The original instructions were lengthy, it helped to be running specific builds of WKO+, and a little digging in Windows was needed. This year’s process is A LOT easier.
  1. Install TrainingPeaks Device AgentGoldenCheetah, Garmin Training Center, PowerAgent, or whatever other software you want to use to download data from your device.
  2. Download the TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3 installer
  3. Install CrossOver Mac.
  4. Install Internet Explorer 6 in CrossOver (optional step, but I did it, everything works, so I’m including it). In CrossOver, select Configure > Install Software..., then select Internet Explorer 6 from the list and install it in a new bottle of its own following on the onscreen prompts. A standard install works fine—no need to customize it.
  5. Install TrainingPeaks WKO+ 3 in CrossOver. Select Configure > Install Software..., then click “Install unsupported software...” and install it in a new bottle of its own. When asked for the installer file, find where you saved the WKO+ installer and let it go through its paces.
That’s it. No tweaking needed. Launch WKO+ and go to work. I was able to upgrade from my previous WKO+ 2 license and activate in version 3 right in the new install—no fancy work around needed like in the original setup (I left that part out of the original post's already lengthy directions).

To get files from a previous version of WKO+ I recommend reviewing the online help topic “Migrating Your Data...” at WKO+ Start Up Guide: First Hour. This will give you the needed background for migrating data, but I found a slight modification to those directions that works better:
  1. Manually create a new athlete in WKO+ 3 with the same name as the data you want to import
  2. Exit WKO+
  3. Find the folder created for that athlete’s data (should be at /user home folder/Documents/TrainingPeaks/WKO/Data/). 
  4. Drag the old .wko files into that folder
  5. Launch WKO+ again and ta-da! This only seems to work, though, if you manually create the athlete in WKO+ first.

To get new files into WKO+, you’ll need to use TrainingPeaks Device Agent, GoldenCheetah, Garmin Training Center, PowerAgent, or whatever other software you want to use to download data from your device. Then find the file you downloaded in that application (or export it from that app), and open it from within WKO+. Unfortunately, dragging and dropping a file from the Finder onto WKO+ doesn’t work when using CrossOver as it would when using WKO+ in Windows.

Since using this setup for nearly a year, I've found one caveat. The data comparing different files in the multi-file/multi-range analysis tool doesn't work. The graph displays the comparative data just fine but the numerical data isn't displayed.

Got all that? Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the fact that you have one less reason to run Windows! Unless you're me and had to buy a Windows computer for another use and are now syncing and maintaining both anyway. I still do 95% of my WKO+ work on the Mac, though.

Testing is training

A number of riders I talk to are resistent to doing a fitness test. Maybe it's the name, "test," that gets them nervous. What else could we call it? Evaluation? Assessment? Masochism? OK, maybe that last one's not helping.

It seems some riders want to be in peak form before they do a fitness test. Get over it. Do the test already. It's probably better training than you do most of the time and the purpose is to assess your current fitness—not your ideal performance—in order to improve your training. It's not so you can tell your friends how much you bench (power is today's cycling equivalent of the meathead weightlifter talk).

So if you have a fear of doing a fitness test, do like I said: get over it and do the test already. If you think that disappointing numbers are going to ruin your future in cycling, you need a shrink not a training plan. So instead, use the data from the test to determine where you are now, how your current performance compares to a similar time last season, and what you can do to improve your performance for the future.

There are lots of fitness tests out there. If your coach prescribes one, follow those directions closely. If you're doing your own, just pick one and stick with it so you can compare your results over time. Two popular training books, The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel and Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Allen & Coggan each describe some assessments.

In short, use a fitness test to challenge yourself and plan your move forward. Save the psyching out for your competition at the races.