Using Strava Live Segments to Perform "Strava-Vals"

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This week, we discuss how Strava live segments can “hack” your interval performance by increasing motivation and positive reinforcement. Strava-Vals is going as hard as you can like an interval but using the live Strava segment for motivation. Kind of like a group ride of one. You can do VO2 Max intervals, anaerobic intervals, climbing intervals, breakaway intervals, time trial intervals and of course sweet spot intervals with this style of training. The choices are endless and at this time of the year, mid-summer, variety is the spice of life and being motivated to go hard is more than half the battle to staying sharp.

Here’s how to perform Strava-Vals:

#1: Create a Strava account. The basic is free and the premium (“Summit’ for $8/month) gets you live segments. The live segment feature is highly effective for turning yourself inside out during your effort to get your PR and as a coach, I therefore like a lot 🙂 The key feature that I’m talking about is that during your effort your Strava live compatible bike computer will use GPS data to tell you how many seconds you are ahead or behind of getting your PR or that KOM of the segment you are using for an interval.

#2 Choose & ‘Star’ your segment in Strava. Remember the duration of the segment you choose forces specific physiological adaptations:

  • 20 – 60 second segment(s) train your anaerobic ‘glycolytic’ pathway
  • 3 – 6 minute segment(s) train your VO2 Max
  • 8 – 60 minute segment trains your threshold power (TT & Climbing)

– Choose 20 – 60 second segments if you are a criterium, flat road racer or cyclocross racer

– Choose 3 – 6 minute segments if you want to raise your FTP and compete in hill road races with 3 – 6 minute climbs

– Choose 8 – 60 minute segments if you want to climb faster, time trial better or work on your threshold power.

Or choose any segment that motivates you!

#3 design your workout

At this point of the season (mid to late July) you do not need to do 2 sets of 3 x 3 minutes on 3 minutes off with a 6 minute set break between 265 – 305 watts. All you need to do is sharpen the sword with 2 or 3 really REALLY hard similar length efforts.

Thus – find your segment and plan to go as hard as you can on it two or three times. Really hard – harder than normal intervals hard because a) you are only doing 2 – 3 and b) because Strava , haha.

Warm up well in Zone 2 while riding over to your segment and go for it. After 2 or three of these your ‘interval’ workout is down and you can cruise back home.

You can also mix multiple types of energy system efforts based on different segments within each workout to mix it up and replicate race specific efforts…the options are unlimited!

Group Ride Strava-Vals for extra credit

Just about all athletes I know have an extra 10-20 watts when they are competing shoulder to shoulder so group rides are a great way to get in some summertime intensity. You can ‘up level’ your Wednesday Worlds or Tuesday Night Thunder by choosing a segment the group rides and making sure you attack or drill it for the whole segment. Really go all in for this segment and then not only can you high five your buddies after the ride but you’ll be immortalized on Strava for your accomplishments.

I don’t recommend the live segment feature during the effort because you are riding in a group and want to be as safe as possible. Plus if its cyclocross or mountain bike training there may be some technical riding where you want to keep your eyes on the trail! Still, going for that PR and ‘winning your group ride’ is the extra motivation that makes the group ride all the more better.

Try it out the next time you want to get that extra 1-2% out of your next interval session!

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