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Training Metrics - Coach Kate’s Triathlon Lessons

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Common training metrics include heart rate, power, rate of perceived exertion, pace and speed. Training Peaks and your smart watch/computer may also record and analyse many more, but these are the most frequently used ones.

Below I will summarise how best to use these metrics for your own training and my data analysis, the simplified version.

Triathlon Adventures Geelong Mountain Biking in Anglesea

How to record useful metrics

  1. Go into your watch or computer and turn off auto lap functions for all sports. This enables the coach to analyse specific interval data that I prescribe, rather predetermined laps that are somewhat meaningless.

  2. Manually lap any intervals that you are prescribed.

    1. For swimming that means pressing start at the beginning of the swim and then lap every time you stop/start an interval. Garmin instructions -

    2. For cycling and running, it is a similar principle. Press start at the beginning of the workout, lap button anytime you start/stop an interval, stop only at the end of the workout.

    3. It may be useful to also alter your screens so you have ‘lap data’ visible on one screen. Here’s a video demo Garmin instructions -

What metrics are useful?

Heart rate (HR)

Your HR is very individual and is usually measured relative to your max HR. Max HR can be reliably determined using lactate testing (with a sport scientist in a VO2 max test, speak to Kate if you are interested in this) or can be conducted in a field test. It can vary between sports, with cycling HR often 5-10 beats lower than running at the same perceived effort. A coach will often use HR to prescribe intensity during longer efforts.

An athlete can compare HR during ‘like’ workouts or intervals. Eg. a recovery ride/run completed each week or 5km tempo.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Is how hard you think you’re working as a rating. In the case of TAG athletes we score out of 10.

< 2/10 = recovery

3-4/10 = easy

5-6/10 = steady / aerobic

7-8/10 = tempo to threshold

8-9/10 = threshold to hard

10/10 = max

Threshold is an important metric as it is the crossover between aerobic energy systems and anaerobic energy systems. This can only reliably be determined by lactate testing by a sport scientist. Athletes and coaches can guess their threshold as 8-9/10 effort or a pace/speed/power they can maintain a high but stable heart rate and effort over a prolonged period of time.


Commonly measured on the bike, but now also available for running. Power is a useful metric when considered alongside HR and RPE. It is usually used as a percentage of your FTP (functional threshold power - the power you can hold for 60mins in test conditions), which should be retested quite frequently.

When completing sessions prescribed to power, also consider your cadence, pedalling efficiency, terrain, HR and RPE.


Will vary depending on terrain and weather, so make sure you always cross reference this with RPE and HR/power.

Do not use this as the sole metric to determine how you complete a workout.

Recommended place for lactate and VO2 testing -

Further Reading -

If you have any further questions about the information above, or wish to apply it more specifically to your own training, please contact me.

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