Dirk Friel's New Year's goal is to beat his ranking in the Firecracker 50 mountain bike race in Breckenridge on the Fourth of July.

One thing: He was third in his age-group last year. He's got a fight ahead of him.

But the Boulder man has a plan, too, and it's centered on his smartphone. Friel tracks and analyzes his training through the TrainingPeaks app. He also uses the app to build his training plan and connect with a coach.

Friel actually helped found the app back in 1999, when it was the first web-based platform for athletes and their coaches to track their data.

Today, TrainingPeaks (trainingpeaks.com) connects athletes in more than 50 countries to about 4,000 different coaches.

If you're looking for support for your New Year's resolution, whether it's to stay in shape, run a race or lose some weight, there's an app to support you.

Friel says he prefers goals around tangible, measurable goals, such as running a race on a specific date, instead of vague goals, such as "lose 10 pounds this year."

"It's healthy tension," he says. "If there's an exact date on the calendar it must be completed by, by completing that goal, you'll just lose the weight anyway."

He recommends registering for the event in advance, so you feel accountable to the money you already spent, too.


He says TrainingPeaks is popular with everyone from Olympic athletes to the average Joe gearing up to run his first ever Bolder Boulder. The winners of the last two Tour de France races also prepared with TrainingPeaks, Friel says.

Use the app for free and manually plot your time, miles, goals and more.

Or upgrade for $119 a year to the highly detailed premium account with a long list of charts and analytics. Order a training plan to complement your goals starting at $30.

Or sign up for TrainingPeaks' unique coach-matching service — yup, sort of like Match.com for athletes and coaches — and get personalized help for $150-plus a month.

You can continue to build on TrainingPeaks, as desired. It's compatible with more than 80 different heart-rate and GPS devices, and plenty of other apps, too.

In addition, Friel recommends the free Wahoo Fitness app, which can track heart rate, stride, speed, cadence and more using Wahoo Fitness sensors. Plus, you can easily sync it with TrainingPeaks, and have it set up to automatically notify your coach every time you work out.

"They can get back to you right away with feedback to keep that momentum going," Friel says. "It encourages (athletes) and keeps them motivated to do the next workout, because they know they're accountable to somebody."

Friel also recommends the compatible Withings Smart scale with the free Withings Health Mate app. This body-weight scale has a built-in wifi chip that updates to your app. It tracks data to help you reach goals and understand how different activities affect your weight and health.

Looking for some other great health and fitness apps and gadgets to help you reach your 2014 goals? Here are three of our new favorites:

1. Looking for a yoga fix? Try the free app Om Finder, created by lululemon athletica, to find upcoming classes within a certain distance from your location in any city. This is a great way to try new classes and teachers, and assure you can squeeze in some yoga, no matter your schedule.

2. Track your calories and activities with the Jawbone UP bracelet (about $100 at Best Buy) and accompanying free app. Track what you eat and your activities, and based on your personal statistics, UP estimates your calorie burn.

Bonus: It tracks how many steps you take, your active times during the day and even your sleep. The "smart alarm" will even wake you up at the ideal time for you to feel most refreshed.

Boulder personal trainer Sperry Goode says she recommends this to all of her clients for accountability and tracking. Plus, she says, you can build teams and share your info through the app.

"My clients love to be on their trainers' team for competition and/or motivation," Goode says.

3. Keep your earbuds in order with The Loop, a new earbud detangling device with Boulder roots(actually invented by Scott Rodwin at the Colorado Athletic Club). The Loop will save you from the frustration of standing at the chilly trailhead for five minutes trying to untangle a rat's nest of headphone cords.

This invention debuted at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.

Learn more at ipocketloop.com.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Aimee Heckel at 303-473-1359 or heckela@dailycamera.com or twitter.com@Aimeemay.