Fitness increase inconsistent?

In the past three months I ran 3 half marathons. Eacht time at about the same pace (ca 4:30). First two time the relative effort reads 273 and 293 both leading to a fitness increase of 7 points. Yesterday though, only 103 effort and 1 point fitness. I’m using the same HR monitor. This is simply impossible - what is going on? Thinking of ditching Summit if it’s that inconsistent...

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• It is all based on your HR during the race, if you posted the avg/max of each, as well as the time in each zone.  The upper zones are weighted much more for a score.  If you spend a good bit at 170bpm... which is the top of zone 3, it is going to be a much different score than if you spent a good amount of time at 174 which lets say is in zone4.  Very close to the same plateau HR....but will result in a much different score.   HR can be independant of pace, easily +/-5 bpm on a given day.  Other things like Time of day, caffeine, hydration, excitement, sickness, HEAT, etc can add another 5 or more also.   If using optical HR on a watch... can easily just be wrong.

But a 103 doesn't sound like much, I get scores like that from my hard workouts twice a week.

• For me the effort scores also don't make sense.  I use chest heart rate monitor.  The numbers Strava calculate are not in line with subjective perception.  Unfortunately, they don't describe the precise model they are using, what kind of math is behind effort, fitness, freshness.  All they say is that it is based on the training impulse theory.  But there are important details, like the rate of decay, the weight for the different heart rate zones.  Even using zones is wrong, in my view.  Let's say my zone 4 is 146 to 160.  Then training at 148 gives the same training impulse as training at 158.  But training at 145 gives a much lower effort score.  Pushing myself from 148 to 158 is a much bigger step then going from 145 to 148.

Once we have an effort score, then it does not even add linearly to the fitness score.  Even worse, as the fitness and freshness scores are typically in the 2 digit range, the form number is then often single digit.  As such, it is too coarse grained.  What kind of form number do you need to be certain, that you can do your next HM, let alone that 130km, 5000m elevation gain ultra marathon?

I have been using the Strava Summit promotion for a month and compared the information Strava gives me to what I get from Sporttracks, which I have been using for a few years now.  (The fitness/fatigue analysis also only available in the premium account.)  I have to say that I will stick with Sporttracks.  The numbers are more in line with my subjective perception, the display is much nicer, I can zoom into the curves, which makes it possible to compare time intervals from the past with the current training status, etc.  It also has its flaws.  However, Strava with all the emphasis on 'give kudos' and badges and all this 'social' shenanigans fails to give me what I really care about: being able to structure my training such that I have enough in the tank when I am at the start line for the next ultra marathon.

Canceling the Summit membership I will!

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