How to train with Strava segments

How do you know if you are improving as a runner?

When I was growing up, the best way to do this was to get a fancy running watch, like a Timex Indiglo (I had two!) with a lap feature, and use it to track your time running laps around the block in your neighborhood. Of course, after your run, you had to write down your lap times in a notebook or type them into a spreadsheet if you wanted to be able to compare your performance over time!

Timex IndigloNowadays, we have a huge variety of running apps we can use on our smart phones, as well as some sophisticated pieces of hardware we can wear on our wrists. But believe it or not, many of these do not have a simple “lap” feature.

Enter “Strava Segments”.

If you’re not already a Strava user, I suggest you download the free app and log in with your Facebook account, if you have one. Then check out the segments feature. This handy tool makes tracking your performance over time a piece of cake, without having to use a lap feature of any kind. Once a segment is created, you can literally “set it and forget it!” This is because every time you happen to run the same segment, the app will track you speed, pace, etc. without you having to do anything. Then, you can review your performance over time.

Here’s an example of a segment I have run a few times at the North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area and how the app displays my performance. You can also change the view to show how your results compare to other men and women who have run the same route. And watch out, you may just be crowned “King of the Mountain” if you get the course record on that particular segment!

Strava Segment 1Strava Segments 2

And creating a new segment couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s how it works. Simply go for a run in one of your favorite locations and track it using the app. Then, log in to strava.com on a computer and click on the activity (from Training/My Activities). Once you are viewing the activity, click on the small wrench icon on the left and select “Create Segment”. This will bring up a map of your activity. Once you do this the instructions on the page will tell you exactly what to do but here are some tips.

  1. Change to Satellite view and zoom in.
  2. Click on the green and red start and end points on the slider at the top, and you will be able to pinpoint exactly where you want your segment to start and end.
  3. Click next, and give your segment a name that makes sense not only to you, but to other Strava users who may also run along that same route. (Uncheck “make the segment private” box.)
  4. Click Create.

And that’s it! From this point on, every time you run over that segment during any of your runs while using the app, it will record your performance. Oh, and your past performances will show up too, as long as you recorded them with the app. And viewing your performance over a segment is really easy to do using the smartphone app too.

So give it a try..what do you have to lose, except maybe a course record if someone faster than you tries it too!

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette