If you’re looking for an alternative to Garmin Connect or TrainingPeaks for scheduling and managing your multi-sport workouts, you may want to give Final Surge a try. Think of as a “lite” version of the a premium (paid) version of TrainingPeaks. You can schedule workouts in advance, build structured workouts, there’s a new Garmin CIQ app for sync’ing workouts to a compatible device, and, best of all, it’s free.
As usual, this is not a review or recommendation. It’s simply an ongoing list of the features and capabilities that I like and dislike about Final Surge. Your mileage may vary…
What I Like…
- Well, first and foremost, it’s free! For athletes, anyway.
- The Garmin CIQ app works well. And once the site gets the ability to save structured workouts in your library, it will get a lot more use.
- The mobile app is pretty well designed and easy to use.
- For those folks that utilize “polarized training” such as Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 plans, the zone reporting is probably the best I’ve found (including premium TrainingPeaks). Although they’re only accessible via the “classic” interface, it’s worth checking out. You can create the report for any time period and zones types (heart rate, pace, and power for running; heart rate and power for cycling, and pace for swimming).
What I Dislike…
- Structured workouts can’t be saved to your Workout Library. Rumor has it that this will be included in an upcoming release. Additionally, it seems as if the Workout Builder is only accessible from the beta version of the calendar. UPDATE 5/28/2019: I’m not sure if it was added later or I simply missed it, but you can save structured workouts to your library but the process is not entirely obvious. In general, once you create the workout for a particular day, you then have a couple of methods of getting it into your library (the simplest being to just drag it over to the library panel). Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to import workouts from some other application. For example, I’ve built up a pretty large number of workouts based on Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 training plans in TrainingPeaks and it great to have a way of importing them.
- After completing a structured workout (ie: intervals), there’s no graphic depicting how your actual results compared to the desired target. This has been in TrainingPeaks for as long as I can remember and was just recently added to Garmin Connect.
- Equipment tracking is a bit difficult to find. First, you have to make sure the “Equipment” block is not hidden for the desired activities via the “Customize Fields” page. Additionally, equipment is apparently not part of the beta (web) interface at this point.
- No TSS (Training Stress Score). I assume this would require some licensing from TrainingPeaks so I’m not holding my breath on this one. So, for the moment anyway, it’s one of the few things that makes me hold on to my TrainingPeaks subscription.
- Sync from Garmin Connect is a bit unpredictable. Sometimes the activity shows up, sometimes it doesn’t. This could be a Garmin Connect issue or a Final Surge issue – difficult to tell. UPDATE 8/19/2019: I haven’t noticed this issue in a while so let’s just chalk it up as an anomaly.
- Although I like the “beta” version of the calendar, there’s no way to import a workout (ie: .fit or .tcx) without switching back to the production version. For the time-being, I’m finding myself sticking with the non-beta interface. UPDATE 8/19/2019: The beta version has progressed to the point where I use it exclusively and only visit the “classic” version for activity import.
What I’m Waiting For…
At this point, there are 3 primary features that, if added, would allow me to seriously consider dropping my TrainingPeaks subscription.
- Training Stress Score. Even as a casual “fitness enthusiast”, I find TSS to be the most objective way of gauging the effect of my weekly training. It may not be perfect, but it’s a heck of lot better than worrying about time and/or distance.
- Structured Workouts. I’m a huge proponent of 80/20 training and have built up a substantial library of run/bike/swim workouts based on this principle. Not being able to easily transfer that library to Final Surge is somewhat of a show-stopper.
- Garmin Calendar Integration. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why Final Surge can’t provide the same calendar integration as TrainingPeaks (ie: no longer needing a Connect IQ app).