The popular app and website Strava is not only a social network for runners, cyclists and other athletes, but it’s actually a really powerful training analysis tool that in many ways is competitive with more advanced and expensive offerings like TrainingPeaks.
Strava lets you not only keep up to date with what exercise your friends are doing, but also allows you to analyse their rides, as well as your own, in fine detail.
So, here are 5 tips to help you get the most from your post-ride analysis using Strava.
1: CLICK “SHOW MORE”
When you open a ride on the desktop version of Strava, whether looking at your ride or one by someone else, you’ll see a box to the top right, which contains some basic data like duration and elevation.
Many users miss the “Show More” button within this box.
By clicking this, you can view the really interesting metrics such as average and maximum power, average and maximum heart rate and others like cadence, if the rider recorded this on their ride.
As a bonus tip, see whether the top line power metric says “Weighted avg power” or “estimated avg power”. If it’s the former, you know that the rider recorded actual power data using a power meter, whereas the latter is an estimate by Strava, which is almost always inaccurate.
2: HIGHLIGHT INTERVALS
To the left of the screen, you’ll see the word “Analysis”. When you click here, you’ll see a graph of the ride, featuring all the real time data points that were recorded.
From there, you can click and drag certain portions of the ride to reveal metrics of that specific selection.
When looking at a ride with hills or intervals, it’s easy to see where these occurred, as there will be spikes in the files for power, heart rate etc. Select your intervals by clicking and dragging to see what your average and maximum power was for that effort.
You can also see where on the ride these efforts occurred and what the elevation profile for each one was like, as these too will be highlighted.
3: SWITCH BETWEEN TIME AND DISTANCE
In the Analysis graph mentioned above, Strava will set the timeline to distance by default, but this isn’t always the best way to view a file.
Intervals and efforts are usually measured by time rather than distance, so in your post-ride analysis, you’ll likely want to know how long a highlighted interval lasted and at what time in the ride an effort occurred.
4: USE ZONE DISTRIBUTION
Upgrading to Strava Premium opens up a number of useful training analysis features, and perhaps the best of these in my opinion is the Zone Distribution functionality. This allows you to see how long you spent in particular power and heart rate zones during a ride.
This really benefits serious cyclists who want to control every aspect of their training.
It helps to show whether you have hit correct intensities during a ride for the goals of your training session and ensures that you can polarise your training effectively, i.e. distribute the intensity of your rides so that you are avoiding the middle intensities which yield lots of fatigue for comparatively modest fitness gains.
5: STUDY OTHER PREMIUM METRICS
The Premium edition of Strava also includes the ability to track other important metrics, two of these being “Training Load” and “Suffer Score”. Analogous to TSS or Training Stress Score, these metrics give you an idea of how stressful a workout was for you.
Keeping track of suffer score will allow you to monitor your fatigue and ensure that you don’t overtrain.
If you keep on top of making sure your heart rate and power numbers like Functional Threshold Power are up to date on your settings, these metrics can be a very reliable way of measuring your fatigue and fitness levels.