Let’s talk about Zihi. Because their motto is Best training plan is one you can do – and we dig that attitude

…So, you came home from work totally exhausted and instead of planned 20k out in a rain you just want to eat Pringles in front of TV? Yes, you can! Because your coach adopts to your current moods and desires – yet promises to prepare you for your race the best way possible. Sounds too good to be true,right? But that’s what folks who are behind a startup called Zihi are promising – or so we understood. Except that the ” coach ” here is a fancy algorithm, utilising the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML). Down below you find a record of a long remote chat with the guys behind Zihi ( they are based in Madison, Wisconsin). We are not big fans of long interviews here at Dailyskier.com but remote training is a complex issue so we print it in full:

– What’s Zihi and who is it for? Now is it different from other remote/ online coaching platforms?

Zihi is an advanced Nordic skiing training platform. We combine cutting edge sports science and decades of coaching experience in a single platform available to anyone with a smartphone or Internet connection.

Zihi is for skiers who train and compete regularly – for whom skiing is a passion and perhaps even a way of life! However, we also recognize that most of our users are not professional athletes and have to fit training in around other priorities, including work, family commitments, and others. As a result, we live by the mantra, “the best training plan is the one you can do.” Zihi creates an attainable plan that will see the athlete to the start line fit, healthy, and confident that he or she can achieve a personal best. The focus on the athlete’s schedule as a starting point for personalization sets us apart from other platforms.

Zihi supports running now and will launch Nordic skiing in December, just in time for the winter season in the northern hemisphere. Ultimately, we plan to support 12 popular endurance sports, including mainstream sports like cycling and triathlon, but also niche sports that have rabid followings but are underserved by the coaching community. These include rowing, speedskating, orienteering, obstacle course racing (e.g., Tough Mudder and Spartan Race), and others.

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– How do AI and neural network (s) come into play here?

We use advanced computational techniques, including AI/ML, to fit a sports science-based training plan, which is standardized, to the athlete’s schedule, which is typically very non-standardized. Then we use data from our athletes’s workouts and proprietary algorithms to fine-tune the training plan to the athlete’s response to training and recovery.

– Please guide me through what Zihi does in layman’s terms: say, I’m an amateur skier who wants to run Marcialonga. What could Zihi do for me and what do I need to have in order of Zihi to be of maximum use?

Well, if you want to ski Marcialonga, you’re in luck, because Zihi will support Nordic skiing in December, which should give you a solid six weeks to use the platform to train for a late-January race. To sign up for Zihi, you’d go to zihipro.com or download one of our apps from the App Store or the Google PlayStore. When you first create an account, Zihi will ask you basic questions about your age, gender, and level of experience in the sport that is your focus. Importantly, Zihi also asks whether you have a competitive goal and when it is. You’d enter the relevant information about the Marcialonga, including the distance of the race and the date. Next, you’d use Zihi’s “Time Available” calendar to enter the time you have available for training and the facilities (e.g., gym, swimming pool) you can use. Zihi will generate a sports science-based training plan that is customized to you and your goals. The workouts Zihi prescribes are detailed and specific, and include interval workouts, overdistance training, strength, and others. As you work your way through your training plan, Zihi will ask you to provide objective data to the platform via a GPS-enabled watch or bike computer. Zihi also collects subjective information on your sleep quality, psychological stress, perceived recovery, and other factors that moderate response to training. With these data, Zihi continuously updates your training plan to reflect your response, much as a good endurance sports coach would do. As you approach Marcialonga, Zihi will incorporate a taper into your training so that you’re fresh for the marathon and ready to ski at your best.

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The best experience with Zihi is with a GPS-enabled watch that also incorporates a heart rate monitor. We currently have connections with Garmin, Polar, Suunto, COROS, Wahoo, with more to come – if you use a device that isn’t listed here, please let us know and we’ll work to create a connection with it.

-What markets is it available on, in what languages and what does it cost?

Zihi is available worldwide for running, with Nordic skiing to be ready in December. Our apps are available in English and Russian, while our web platform remains English-language only. For athletes, we offer a Basic Plan, which is free, to give them a feeling for the Zihi platform and to serve as an electronic training diary. For a subscription to our Experienced Plan, which gives access to Zihi’s training plan generation functionality, we charge $30/month, although a 20% discount is available for an annual subscription.

-Anything else I should know?
We are currently recruiting skiers of all levels to beta test the Zihi

As a beta tester, you will get unlimited access to the first adaptive and individual training plan for skiing until the end of the ski season in 2022. In return, we would ask for your feedback about the platform and user experience.

ZIHI TEAM:
Egor Akimov,​
Co-founder and CEO of Zihi, Madison, WI
Researcher, active athlete ( XC Skiing) and startup entrepreneur with 20+ years experience in innovation in sports science, technology and performance. Over 40 publications in professional scientific journals. Head scientist of the National Russian Triathlon Team, 2011-2016. Head of the scientific department in the Moscow Center of Advanced Sports Technology, 2011-2016.
PhD in Human Physiology

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Revere Greist,​
Co-founder and COO, Madison, WI
Revere is a life-long endurance athlete, a former collegiate swimmer and water polo player, a category 1 cyclist, and a national champion in Formula Continental race cars. Revere earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and he also holds advanced degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science and University of California, Los Angeles.
MBA in Finance and Economics.

Mikhail Vinogradov
Co-founder and Head of R&D, Barnaul, Russia
Head coach in the famous Norwegian club (Halden Skiklubb), 2011-2012, won all titles from the international club and official races. Personal coach for several National team athletes (achievements include 7 medals at world championships).
PhD in Economics.

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