Using Strava Live Segments to Perform "Strava-Vals"


Check out this article where Strava interviewed Coach frank on this topic!


This week, we discuss how Strava live segments can "hack" your interval performance by increasing motivation, positive reinforcement, and therefore your power output. A Strava-Val is going as hard as you can like an interval but using the live Strava segment for motivation. Knowing in real time if you are ahead or behind your PR is good for 10-20 more watts of 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 a Strava-Val:

#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. Therefore as a coach, since I like when athletes turn themselves inside out, I like the strava live segment feature a lot :) The key feature that I’m talking about is knowing 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 and 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.

Choose 1 - 3 hour segments for gravel or marathon mtb racing Or choose any segment that motivates you!

#3 design your workout

We recommend Strava-Vals at the point in the season when we think 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:


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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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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