I have been a long time user of Training Peaks. It is by far the best website and software for coaches and athletes who want to review training data on a day-to-day or on a season-to-season basis. As far as data analysis goes, nothing comes close! However there are those athletes that just want to know if they are faster on their local climb and how they stack up against their friends or competition. This is where Strava comes in.
Strava is an on-line cycling club that uses GPS data collected from your training device or cell phone (yep, there is an app for that!) to track your performance against yourself, friends, and really anyone that has ridden the same routes or climbs that you ride. It is basically social media brought to your cycling. Want to know who the fastest local guy is to climb that sufferfest of Fremont Peak and see how you compare? You can check it out on Strava. You can even compare yourself to the Pros if you happen to live near a popular race route. There is nothing like a little competition with yourself or others to provide a little extra motivation! Did I mention that you can get most of these features for free? Yeah, Free!
Now there is some downsides to Strava. Mainly that it turns all of your rides into a race. Don’t fall into that trap! You can’t always “test” and expect to continue to get better. To improve we need to stress our bodies and cause some fatigue to stimulate our bodies to adapt. To put out a personal best effort we need to be relatively fresh. If your always trying to be “fresh” so you can crush the local climb you aren’t going to continue to improve your fitness. It is OK to try to break your PR every once in a while, but don’t try to do it every week. I find it useful to track a riders performance during normal endurance rides as well as PR attempts. If the climbs at endurance pace and same perceived exertion are getting faster, even if they are well below your personal record, than that is as good as a new PR.
Lastly, it is possible to cheat at Strava but you guys wouldn’t drive around with your GPS on, right?!
Now I am just dreaming about Training Peaks integrating in the features of Strava…or at least an app that allows simultaneous uploading to both sites…anyone?