Don’t care about Strava segments? There is more to Strava than you think.
Strava gets a lot of flack–some of it deserved–but overall I think it’s a fantastic service. While Strava’s signature functionality is their timed segment system, the service has evolved considerably over the years; there’s a lot of cool stuff there if you take the time to poke around. This is especially true if you’re a Premium member.
In a past blog I discussed the very beneficial (but not very well-known) Strava feature that allows users to automatically track mileage on every single component on all their bikes (see “An underutilized, but very useful Strava feature: component mileage tracking“).
Today I’d like to look at another area of Strava’s site that some of you may have overlooked: the “Training” section. You can find it at the top of your main profile screen (click to enlarge):
Upon clicking the Training tab, you’ll be presented with your Training Calendar for the current year as the default view (click to enlarge):
Right away you’ve got some pretty useful information. At the top I can quickly see that so far in 2013 I’ve ridden 4,219 miles over 255 hours and 181 rides, and that I’ve set 199 personal records. Looking at the calender itself, I’m shown how many hours I rode each month along with a basic visual representation of the number of rides (the vertical lines), and the distance of the rides (indicated by the length of the vertical lines).
Clicking on any of the months drills down to more detail. For example, here’s my June 2013 (click to enlarge):
Some basic information is provided at the top: 39 hours of riding, 725 miles and 48 personal records over a total of 22 rides. The rides are presented on the calendar (another good reason to give your rides meaningful names instead of just “Morning ride”!), and the rides are all AJAX hyperlinked. This is a cool design feature, as clicking the link doesn’t take you away from the calender, it dynamically opens the ride overview like this (click to enlarge):
Of course you can always click the “View Details” button if you want to go directly to the full ride.
The next three tabs are only for Premium Strava members. First up is the “Power Curve” tab (click to enlarge):
This shows my wattage outputs on a curve. Note that this feature requires a power meter. I do not have a power meter, but Strava is able to use TrainerRoad’s “Virtual Power” as a substitute. Of course this means that only my TrainerRoad rides are used to create this curve.
You can compare various time periods against each other (helps you see if you’re getting stronger or need to HTFU), and it can even estimate your FTP. The amazing thing here is that Strava estimates my FTP to be 294 watts–that is identical to my actual tested FTP! Nice.
Next up, another Premium feature, is “Fitness & Freshness”. This feature is pretty interesting (click to enlarge):
Strava defines “Fitness” (the dark gray line), Fatigue (the medium gray line) and Form (the light gray line) as follows:
Fitness: “While fitness is a complicated concept, it can be simplified to just an accumulation of training. The Fitness Score is calculated using Training Load, to measure your daily training, and an impulse-response model to quantify its effect over time. This will intuitively capture the building up of fitness, as well as the loss of fitness during a break. “
Fatigue: Conceptually, fatigue is easy to understand; it’s that tired feeling which limits your performance. We model it the same way as fitness, but on a shorter time scale. You’ll notice the score go up quickly after a couple hard days, but also go down quickly as you take a few days off.
Form: “Being in form, or “peaking,” happens when one is very fit but not fatigued. Here we model this as the difference between your Fitness Score and your Fatigue Score.”
The thing about all of the stuff on the “Fitness and Freshness” tab is that it’s only computed from rides done with a power meter. I don’t have a power meter, so the only rides considered as part of my data are those from TrainerRoad (using their Virtual Power to compute training load). In other words, unless you do almost all of your riding on a trainer with Virtual Power, without a power meter the numbers found in this section are virtually meaningless.
The final Premium feature in the “Training” section is “Goals”. Here you can set both segment and power goals. Personally I don’t set specific segment goals, as my goal is always to ride as fast as I can. 😉
Finally, available to all members, is the “My Activities” tab. This is sortable, searchable list of all your Strava activities. You can filter by activity type, sort by date, title, time, distance, elevation or suffer score and even search your activities for certain keywords (yet another reason to give your rides meaningful and descriptive names).
Even if you don’t care at all about Strava segments and the competitive aspect of their service, there is still a whole lot to like about Strava as a very useful training tool.