See the big picture of your progress.

No matter which coach or expert you ask about training, one sentiment always bubbles to the surface: Training is never going to be linear. It’s a cycle that ebbs and flows as your fitness goes up with training and then down as life and injuries intervene. When you’re in those peaks or valleys, it’s really hard to step back and see the full picture. You can put in months of workouts and so many hard efforts that you lose count. But you’re still not sure if all that work is adding up to progress. And if so, how much?

Fitness used to be a mystery. Now it’s a number.

Included with a subscription to Strava, the Fitness feature tracks how much you’re improving, day by day. You can see how much progress you’ve made overall and where you are in your training cycle – whether you’re peaking, maintaining or recovering. It assigns a score to your current fitness and compares that to where your fitness has been over the past month, three months, six months, year and two years. So it’s super easy to see how your workouts are adding up.

How’s it work?

You might recognize your trend line in Fitness from a web feature for subscribers called Fitness & Freshness. We brought the Fitness portion right to your phone, so you can use it whenever and wherever you want.

The Fitness feature uses data from your heart rate monitor, power meter or our new Perceived Exertion tool, which gauges how intense your activities feel. It then takes into account the duration of your workout to assign a Relative Effort score to the activity. Fitness plots that data across time to show the accumulation of your training. This way, Fitness can capture both the build up of fitness when you’re in a real groove as well as the loss of it when you take a break from working out.

It’s not always about pushing your Fitness score higher.

“I’ve worked with athletes who’ve overtrained before. It always happens gradually, and then before they know it, they’re deep in a hole. Using Fitness and Relative Effort together will help an athlete realize that they’re overtraining at an earlier stage,” explains Dr. Megan Roche, a scientist, coach and Team USA ultra runner.

She’s right. Overtraining often happens without athletes noticing the warning signs. It can creep up on you until suddenly you’re feeling completely zapped – even on easy days. But using Relative Effort alongside Fitness can help you notice if you’ve been hitting higher than usual training loads for the past few weeks. Relative Effort will tell you how specific workouts compare to your usual range in terms of intensity. Then Fitness will display how all of the workouts have been stacking up together, for months at a time. If your Fitness trend is skyrocketing up and to the right, and your Relative Efforts are consistently coming in higher than previous weeks, it’s a good idea to think about taking a recovery day.

Since we don’t all have someone like Dr. Roche on speed dial, the combination of Relative Effort and Fitness can help you know when you might need a down week so you can avoid heading into the red.

Here’s what your Relative Effort and Fitness charts could look like if you’ve had a big week:

If you have more than a few of these in a row, it’s definitely time to think about carving some space out for recovery.

On the other hand, if you’re in the midst of some down time your charts will look more like this:

These weeks are great for giving your body a break, but as this Fitness chart shows, taking some rest without then following up with hard work won’t help you get fitter.

No Heart Rate Data?

No worries. Perceived Exertion can stand in for a heart rate monitor to track how hard your efforts feel. So even on those days when you don’t have heart rate data, it’ll still be possible for the Fitness feature to analyze and chart your workout. Perceived Exertion also adds value to your training by encouraging you to be more aware of your body and not always reliant on external data to gauge how you feel.

“A lot of athletes have a hard time quantifying how intense their workouts feel, so the Perceived Exertion tool can help them understand their progress and think about how it feels in their body,” explains Dr. Megan Roche, a scientist, coach, and Team USA ultra runner.

You can add Perceived Exertion to your workouts when editing or saving an activity, and choose whether to use it or your heart rate data to power features like Relative Effort and Fitness. You can also use Fitness with just the input of a power meter on your wheel, if you’re a cyclist.

The trinity of Fitness, Relative Effort and Perceived Exertion feed off each other to provide a complete, big picture view of how your training is going. Perceived Exertion gives you a way to measure how intense your efforts feel without using a heart rate monitor or power meter. You can see if you’re working too much or not enough week over week by referencing Relative Effort, and then zoom out to understand how all your work is stacking up, with Fitness.

These features operate together to uncover precisely how you’re doing – in the short and long term. So you can keep an eye on your fitness progress, no matter where you’re at in the journey. You can start tracking your improvement now by trying out a subscription for free for 30 days.

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