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Strava fitness & freshness: WTF?

  • 11-08-2019 4:24pm
    Registered Users Posts: 678 ✭✭✭

    Does anyone understand what Strava's "fitness" is supposed to be measuring? I've read the Strava explanations, but none of it jibes with what I'm seeing in my graphs.

    For example, in March 2016, the graph says my fitness was at 72. At the time, I was significantly slower than I am now and efforts that I'd do now entirely in zone 2 would then have been at the top of zone 3 or even into zone 4. But my current fitness, according to Strava, is 48. Worse, no kind of training seems to improve it very much.

    My training is pretty balanced: I run 5 or 6 days per week, 50-60k, one long run (16-20k) per week, one interval session or tempo run per week (sometimes 2), one parkrun (that I run as a race) every week or two. I watch my zones and try to keep everything other than the tempo/intervals/races in zone 2. By any measure: pace, heart rate, speed at a given heart rate, distance per week, VO2Max, whatever, I am significantly fitter than I was in March 2016, when I was doing half the mileage and only running 3 days per week. Yet my current "fitness" is much lower according to Strava.

    So what is Fitness and Freshness supposed to mean by "fitness"? Seems like I'd just be better off ignoring it...

    I'd ask this on the Strava forums but their software is so bad it's impossible to use.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,178 ✭✭✭MY BAD

    I think Strava changed the way they calculate your fitness in 2017ish so that might explain. I wouldn't read too much into it.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,763 ✭✭✭Fenster

    Take any such measure with a pinch of salt. It shouldn't be read as more than a trend.

    Edit: Metrics such as on Strava or Fitbit are fantastic for establishing and showing health trends, but point-for-point you should not take any numbers given at face value. It's data derived from a wristband, not from a calibrated and controlled environment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 766 ✭✭✭duffyshuffle

    Do you have a HRM on every run? And do you have HR zones and pace zones set properly on Strava?
    It'll give you a score of training stress for each session based on HR, and every time you train your fitness score will go up, and your fatigue will also go up, when you recover your fitness goes down but your fatigue also goes down, so you 'freshen' up to race e.g. during a taper.
    Larger negative stress balance scores of -30 greater (negative e.g. -40) can indicate you may get run down/be pushing it a bit.
    The fitness score will be limited by volume, so previously you may have had more volume, without the intensity, so you would have scored higher fitness points, but may not have been as fast then - that can be the case with cycling anyway which is where the fitness/freshness thing came from primarily using power data (i think).

    Numbers may be thrown off if you have taken a break for a while, and fitness scores would drop a lot, or if you're looking at it but you didn't have HR data for them to use to calculate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,105 ✭✭✭Peterx

    In general terms Strava is a great tool/toy but it originated with cyclists and is always playing catch up on the running side of things.

    None of those fancy metrics work as well as they pretend to.

    Strava flybys on the other hand is genuinely amazing.

    As an aside it still amazes me how many features are available on the free version of strava. I pay for the odd month to show willing, or when I want to use Strava Beacon but in general I hope they are getting lots from my data as I am getting lots from their website/app

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,748 ✭✭✭Nuttzz

    I'd recommend the elevate extension for strava, its pretty good

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