Make the most of Strava

Strava is not just a plat­form for show­ing off — used wisely, it can im­prove your train­ing too

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Han­nah Reynolds

It's easy to get hung up on Strava's crowns, tro­phies and leader boards, but there is more to the app than on­line grand­stand­ing. With a lit­tle in­vest­ment — ideally you need to be a Pre­mium mem­ber — you can use Strava to de­velop your train­ing.

One of the con­cerns raised in our re­cent fea­ture on Strava (CW, Au­gust 10) was that a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with seg­ment times and KOMS can lead rid­ers un­wit­tingly into over­train­ing. The desire to nail seg­ments and earn ku­dos by post­ing long or fast rides can in­duce fa­tigue and ac­tu­ally harm long-term per­for­mance. That said, Strava can be a force for good: the app of­fers func­tions that can curb self-de­feat­ing in­stincts and in­stead ben­e­fit your train­ing.

Strava’s Fit­ness and Fresh­ness chart al­lows you to track your fit­ness, fa­tigue and form over time us­ing heart rate and/ or power data. Build­ing form hinges on a sim­ple equa­tion: over­load, rest, adapt — while avoid­ing fa­tigue. This can be a tricky bal­anc­ing act. If your ad­dic­tion to KOM hunt­ing is lead­ing you into a pit of over­train­ing, this graph will re­veal it.

Your fit­ness score is cal­cu­lated by the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of train­ing stress, recorded on Strava as your Suf­fer Score if us­ing a heart-rate mon­i­tor, or as Train­ing Load if you have a power me­ter. It is based on the time you spend in each dif­fer­ent zone, with the higher-in­ten­sity zones be­ing weighted. Fresh­ness is based on the amount of rest or easy rid­ing you do, and form is a prod­uct of the two.

You need to con­sis­tently record ev­ery ride for at least six weeks to ac­crue enough data. The graph is just a guide; you also need to make your own notes, record­ing how you felt in each ses­sion.

Us­ing Strava to train more smartly can yield big gains. Other sites such as Train­ing­peaks.com and To­daysplan.com of­fer a broader range of so­phis­ti­cated and in-depth anal­y­sis, but Strava is the most pop­u­lar, and if you’re not mak­ing the most of it, you’re miss­ing out.

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