Fitness & Freshness, our Premium heart rate analysis feature, is now available to runners and multi-sport athletes. Cyclists love this heart rate and power meter data deep dive, and we’re excited to bring it to all activity types. It’s a great tool to chart your improvement over time and show up to races and big events in peak shape.

This popular Strava feature has been requested by athletes who record their heart rate for all types of fitness activities. Whether you do a virtual ride on a trainer or run laps around a track, as long as you use a heart rate monitor along with a GPS activity it will appear in your graph on Strava.com.

Fitness & Freshness shows your current fitness score and how it’s changed over the past seven days. Easily toggle your fatigue and form scores on to get a different look at your strength gains over time. And filter between cycling, running, and all sports to see how different kinds of training impact your Fitness & Freshness levels.

If you’ve logged a lot of activities with a heart rate monitor before, you’ll see these graphs the first time you visit Fitness & Freshness, along with red circles to indicate races. And if you start logging your heart rate now, you’ll begin to see how your fitness changes over time after about a half dozen uploads. You’ll learn what your baseline is, when to rest, and when you can push it.

We realize if you haven’t been using a heart rate monitor, this feature can be tricky to figure out. So we’ve pulled together a few examples of how athletes in our community are putting this tool to work.

1. Cross Training for Injury Recovery

Kate Shaughnessy started tracking her heart rate when she was injured to see if her cross training was effective. Due to ankle tendon issues she couldn’t enjoy any high-impact runs, so she sought out ways to emulate running. “I tried swimming and aqua jogging and that didn’t get my heart rate up. I set up a bike trainer in my house. Then I started rowing classes and was able to get it to a similar level as I get when running. I learned what activities allowed me to gain sustained time in my aerobic zone.”

2. Race Preparedness

Kate continued to use heart rate as she got back into running, completed her first marathon and is now preparing for her first ultra marathon. Fitness & Freshness gives Kate the confidence to tackle unknown distances, explaining that “it’s a really great visual way to see the work that I’ve put in. I can see that the past couple months I’ve sustained a high level of fitness. And I can see that I am the most trained that I’ve ever been, which makes me feel prepared.”

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3. Getting in Shape

It’s not all about racing. Fitness & Freshness is tailored to each athlete’s behavior. Gareth Nettleton tracks his heart rate on all of his activities, including his daily commute, to gauge his strength throughout the year. “I use it as a way to know if I am in good enough shape for a big adventure. This fall I knew I had to get my fitness level to a particular number to feel strong heading into the Pyrenees for a week of climbing. I hit my peak at 52 that week.”

If you looked at Gareth’s graph with purely cycling activity it would have dropped off through the winter when he started to run more. You can see below where his graph ticked up in January purely from running. He confessed,

“It used to annoy me that running didn’t count. I’ve seen a 20 point jump in my fitness score since my running is now included.”

4. Knowing When to Rest

Many athletes struggle with this one. Triathletes in particular have to juggle it all, fitting in multiple sports in a week, sometimes multiple activities in a day, and that can make it tough to know when to chill out. Liz Abbett told us, “I started tracking my heart rate to keep myself from working too hard. If I can keep an eye on my fatigue and I see it’s getting high than maybe it’s a good time to take a couple days pretty easy.” There are periods of time where she runs or swims more than she rides, and now the Fitness & Freshness graph reflects all of her HR-based activities, giving her a more honest look at how fatigued she actually is.

5. Performing Workouts

Whether you are working with a coach or managing your own workouts, Fitness & Freshness can help keep you on track. Liz told us, “It helps me better execute a particular workout, whether I am getting it from a coach or out of a book. I know what my threshold, tempo, endurance, and recovery zones are from a heart rate perspective. And after training for a long time I know what hard and easy feels like.”

Liz also works with a coach that repeatedly tells her, “Do your hard workouts hard, easy workouts easy.” Liz explained that while that might seem obvious, “Most endurance athletes are guilty of training too much in the gray area of zone 3 – not pushing hard enough to get the speed and strength benefits of anaerobic training but going harder than necessary to get the aerobic benefits, resulting in unnecessary stress on the body.” And she uses Fitness & Freshness specifically to compare workouts as she ramps up her training for the next big triathlon.

6. Maintaining a Healthy Heart

Parag Doshi is new to running but an expert in heart health: At 51 years young, he is a resident cardiologist and continually learning from his own activity. He told us that, “Monitoring pulse provides critical information of overall heart health and cardiovascular fitness.”

Parag went on to explain that, “In general, a fit body requires less cardiac contractions per minute, since the heart delivers more output with each contraction and tissue can extract more oxygen from the same amount of blood. Therefore, resting pulse is lower in the athletes. However, they are also able to achieve very high pulse rate and sustain it at that rate for longer times. After exercise, the athletic body recovers quicker and pulse drops to the baseline rather quickly. All of these parameters are extraordinarily important in predicting fitness level and also predict future cardiovascular events and survival.”

When applying this knowledge to understanding his Fitness & Freshness, Parag told us, “Since I only recently started running, I have seen that my body is getting more fit and efficient: Resting pulse has declined from 80 to about 50-52, and I have a much faster decline to baseline in the post-run recovery.” Ultimately he is “able to run at a faster clip with the same maximum heart rate.”

While this is only six ways to use Fitness & Freshness, we are sure there are dozens more.