Make the most of Strava
Strava is not just a platform for showing off — used wisely, it can improve your training too
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.