STRAVA Fitness – now on the app
STRAVA very recently further rolled out their FITNESS feature on the app. It looks nicely implemented but, apart from one nuance, STRAVA Fitness looks to provide similar information to that found in many other platforms. Despite this lack of novelty…it’s a good thing. STRAVA is showing messages on the app indicating that this is a wholly new feature but I covered it here in March this year when I looked in some details at RELATIVE EFFORT after a chat with its designer, Marco Altini.
Make of all that what you will.
I do have a paid-for STRAVA account and, as you can see from the image to the right, the FITNESS and FRESHNESS features are both parts of the ANALYSIS pack. So you have to pay STRAVA some money to see it or wangle a 30/60-day trial somehow.
Q: What’s New?
A: The main thrust of the newness is
- Overall/Aggregate Fitness on the app
- Ability to enter and use RPE (perceived exertion) in the absence of HR data.
Let’s start with the most useful info which you are presented with on an ongoing basis and updated after each workout.
Firstly as you can see from the images below on the STRAVA app, you are given a nice chart showing your fitness over various timeframes and an indication of how much you have improved over the selected timeframe. Thus, over the last 2 years, it looks like I’ve got 93% fitter. Yay!! My data in strava is not complete and correct so you can take those numbers with a pinch of salt!
This is a nice bit of info to check that your fitness is progressing on track. However, there are (at least) two things missing. Firstly your fitness will not necessarily translate well into your ability to PERFORM at any instant as it doesn’t take into account your fatigue and, secondly, you triathletes out there might be interested to check the progress with your individual sports.
Well, fear not. All that info that I said was missing is on strava.com for SUMMIT Analysis Pack members – I can’t see the same detailed info on the app, maybe it will come over time?
The following charts are NOT new. So, briefly, my current fitness of 79 on the app should correspond with the 79 fitness shown, below, online…and it does. Note: Power & Relative Effort needs to be displayed online to match what is on the app
So let’s say you were interested in drilling into your cycling-only activities. No problem. Here we go. As I said earlier, this is incomplete data but this broadly represents a peak last year from cycling in the Alps & Pyrenees and a post-operation dip for a month or so in April this year before a summer of self-imagined, cycling glory.
The difference between your FITNESS and FATIGUE is your FORM and that really is your ability to perform. The chart below shows my current form of ‘1’. That’s neither good nor bad. It just depends on where you are in your training cycle. I have a duathlon race coming up in a couple of weeks and so am in my PEAK phase of training. I’d say, if it were correct, that ‘1’ is probably too HIGH for my current stage of training. However this particular chart doesn’t factor in running and, if it did, it would show -11 (minus 11). That means I can’t perform well now but the adaptation to my fitness will take a little while and, actually, I’m probably on track to taper and then to get a race day FORM reading of between +10 and +20. Personally, I tend to taper aggressively (rest a lot) and so my race-day FORM levels are likely to be near to +20 or sometimes higher.
All this comes from TRIMP calculations from the time spent in each HR zone. These are 50-year-old calculations, generally accepted as ‘alright’ (I use them). There seems to be an existing nuance where POWER is factored into the calculation either it augments the TRIMP calculations or, more likely, produces the same FITNESS/FORM/FATIGUE metrics but instead based on Coggan’s power calculations. Although STRYD users should note that power will not be used for running and the power calculations that are available for cycling FORM/FITNESS are not available for running. At the aggregate level, you appear to be able to see TRIMP based running aggregated with POWER-based cycling. #Nice!
Perhaps the more interesting new thing announced this week is that you can now enter RPE. There is a TRIMP-based RPE measure so I’m assuming that STRAVA is using that. Perhaps STRAVA is also cleverly combining RPE-TRIMP with HR-TRIMP if, for example, there are times when you have forgotten your HR strap or have no HR data for some other reason.
Examples of manually adding RPE online and on the app
There are also some other tweaks that are possible with RPE in the context of this data but I suspect STRAVA are not using them (see this link to how Polar implement this with PERCEIVED LOAD)
For completeness here are the screens you’ll see from STRAVA when you first get access to the FITNESS data on your app.
That’s pretty much it. Some old but very useful calculations now available to paid-for STRAVA users on the app with a clever option to manually input RPE to fill gaps in your data.
Here are some earlier posts of mine about other features and firstly about TRIMP but in more detail (its one of those things that I’ve always found interesting)