Using Strava Summit stats to measure autumn training progress

I use Strava Summit to keep me focused on training. I particularly love the new ‘fitness’ score.

An unexpected silver lining after DNFing the Cotswold Century has been a steady improvement in that ‘fitness’ score – by some 83% in the last year.

Science without the spreadsheets

Strava’s Fitness score is a calculation that combines a few different measurements:

  • Total cardiovascular effort (based on their Relative Effort scores assigned to each activity where HR is recorded), calibrated against data on thousands of athletes and activities
  • Power (from each activity’s training load metric)
  • How fitness changes over time, based on an impulse-response model created by Dr Eric Banister to predict how fitness is gained – or lost during a break.

How to use it

Ultra-runners are famously driven, pushing on through fatigue and discomfort. Summit’s Fitness score provides strong visual proof that any niggling pain or dragging of feet could be a sign of burnout or over training. Check the ‘Fatigue’ score for more info. If the fatigue score is well above the fitness one, it might be time to build in more of a break before the next training session.

A high fitness score is great, but it doesn’t always mean you’re on your finest form for a PB. The ‘form’ score models the difference between fitness and fatigue to help runners make the decision between training hard and over training. If the form score is in the negative, it might be time to take a couple of days off before the next session.

Setting my next goal

My favourite long weekend run covers 27 miles of roads, trails and a couple of monster hills for good measure. It ticks all the boxes. I’ve been doing it at least once a month since the summer, usually clocking it in just under five hours.

Now, I know that’s not fast. But it is a good indication of where I am with my running at the moment, and acts as a solid baseline for improvement. I’d like to boost my performance in the new year when I start to tackle events again. So, I’ve set myself a winter training goal of doing that run in under 4hr30 by the spring, keeping a close eye on my fitness, form and fatigue stats on Strava Summit to guide me.

Have you set some winter training goals to keep focussed? Or do you have any tips for getting the most from Strava’s paid features? Leave a comment below.

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