By | December 16, 2023
Watch Ultra 2

When Apple announced the updated version of its most rugged, sports-capable smartwatch in September, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 was generously best described as a minor improvement. Most of the updates were under-the-hood tweaks, like adding a “double-tap” feature, so you can perform actions by clicking your thumb and index finger together, and Siri on the device, so you can get voice assistance even if you do not have a mobile connection. The screen also became 50 percent brighter, which is really useful on sunny days.

But it was about what we expected. Before the launch, I had written that Apple needed to roll out some important updates if it wanted to be taken seriously by competitive runners. But they weren’t quite anticipated just a year after the Apple Watch Ultra first debuted. (Keep your fingers crossed for next year’s release, when AWU3 should get a major overhaul.)

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Last Thursday, Apple launched a feature that I didn’t have on that wish list, but nonetheless signals a big shot in the direction of the established sports watch makers: TrainingPeak’s integration. Now TrainingPeaks users can effortlessly (or automatically) send the workouts prescribed by their trainers directly to the watch so they can run them in Apple’s own Workout app. (You can also create your own structured workouts on TrainingPeaks, even if you’re not working with a trainer.)

On the surface, the integration doesn’t seem like much. The workouts work just like any other custom workout you can create on your own. Now you don’t have to create them on your own, on the clock. But even more so, this is exciting because TrainingPeaks has long been the domain of serious runners and cyclists—the kind of athletes who reach for a Garmin, Wahoo, or Coros instead of an Apple product. With updates like this, that tide can turn.

apple workout tops

You can choose to send workouts individually or seven days at a time.

Jeff Hengate
training tops app

Workouts from your trainer can be performed in the Apple Watch’s Workout app.

Jeff Hengate

Plus, the Workout app remains the best exercise app on the Apple Watch, so it’s valuable to get all the run tracking it offers along with the real-time signals that keep you on track through your workout, all in one app.

A real contender

TrainingPeaks says “tens of thousands of trainers worldwide” use the platform for runners, cyclists and triathletes. Its strength clearly lies in working with goal-oriented athletes. In my pre-launch demo to test the new feature, trainer Jason Koop prescribed my trial workouts, like 3 x 1,000 meters with 400 meters of recovery.

apple watch fitness tops

You can view up to seven days of exercise on Apple Watch.

Jeff Hengate

From within the TrainingPeaks iPhone app, you can press a button to send the day’s workout to your Apple Watch. Alternatively, I set it so that TP pushes the next seven days automatically and I can easily access them or see what’s coming up without ever looking at the TP app.

On the watch, you’ll be alerted to the upcoming interval – work or recovery – and the display will change based on your goal. If your repeat is timed, a marker will appear on the ‘time left’ line on the screen so it’s easier to pick out when you’re running hard.

apple watch training

In the Workout app, your rep goal (here, time) is highlighted so you can see how much work you have left.

Jeff Hengate

During the training session, you will be notified if you deviate too far from the goal. I tested this feature one day when my marathon training plan called for something different. So I let the exercise progress through the steps during my recovery jog. And, as expected, I was routinely scolded for being out of the HR zone—turns out my heart rate for an easy loop around the neighborhood isn’t in the same zone Koop wants me to do a 1K rep on the track. Sorry coach.

Another day I stuck to the sprint workout created in the TrainingPeaks app and found the results to be on par with what I was getting from a Garmin Fenix ​​​​7X Pro.

It’s worth noting that other devices like Garmin, Coros and Wahoo have an integration with TrainingPeaks so you can send your planned workouts from TP to your Forerunner or watch and get the same kind of real-time feedback as you walk.

To get started, make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch are updated to the latest operating systems and update the TrainingPeaks app on your phone.

training tops app

You can send a workout to the Apple Watch with a simple press of a button.

Jeff Hengate

Other reasons to like the Apple Watch Ultra 2

The aforementioned tweaks are, admittedly, helpful to runners and make the AWU2 better than the original – but probably not upgrade-worthy if you already own an AWU1. For example, a double-tap gesture isn’t very useful for runner-specific actions.

But if you don’t already own an Apple Watch, the Ultra 2 is worth considering if you’re in the market for a new sports watch now.

A big reason to like it is because of the “Action” button, which works like it did on the AWU1. Buttons are a runner’s best friend, and the addition here allows you to quickly launch the Workout app and start a run or take laps without poking at a touchscreen. This makes it much easier to use when running with gloves as well.

Plus, it still uses dual-frequency GPS and leverages a second signal from satellites to improve the accuracy of your speed and location. And the mobile subscription is a great feature that I always recommend, so you can use the watch as a phone or have full access to your Apple Music library when you leave your phone behind.

Another nice addition is the support for Bluetooth sensors. While the optical heart rate sensors in today’s GPS watches have improved greatly and often track closely to what we expect, I still choose to run with a chest belt when I want accurate data. Apple Watch Ultra 2 easily pairs with a Garmin HRM-Pro strap to get reliable data.

Main image by Jeff Dengate


Jeff is the Runner-in-Chief for Runner’s World, indicative of the brand’s shoes and equipment. A true shoe hound, he has spent more than a decade testing and reviewing shoes. In 2017, he ran in 285 different pairs of shoes, including a streak of 257 days in a different model.

#Apple #Watch #TrainingPeaks #integration

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