How does Strava measure pace?

In this guide, we will talk about how Strava measures pace, what is Strava, the existing pace zones, the difference between moving time and elapsed time, among other things that are important to discuss.

How does Strava measure pace?

If you wonder how Strava measures pace, here we have the answer. Strava uses recent data such as race or time trial to estimate or calculate running pace zones. Run data is bucketed into pace zones using Grade Adjusted Pace, which allows easy comparison of equivalent-effort pace on flat and hilly runs.

Among the pace zones, we can find ‘Active Recovery’ which is very easy running, usually done before or after a hard workout. Next, we have ‘Endurance’, which is comfortable running and often referred to as ‘conversational pace’. Thirdly we have ‘Tempo’ and this pace often matches the intensity of a Marathon. 

Moreover, we have‘Threshold’, which is the pace that can be sustained for up to 60 minutes with some difficulty. Finally, we have VO2 Max and Anaerobic. The first is the pace at which a runner reaches the maximum level of oxygen consumption and Anaerobic is considered an extremely hard pace, often done as short intervals or longer time trials.

How does Strava measure pace?

What is Strava?

Strava is one of the many fitness apps that allows you to track your activity and workouts, letting you compare them. It initially started to become popular within the cycling community but now it has expanded to runners as well. 

The app is not only famous for this, but also for Segments, where it turns regular runs into challenges where you can not only step up your game but also run against the Strava community. As you run, the app tracks the time and records the information, so looking later at the results can be quite motivating, especially if you have set some goals.

Grade Adjusted Pace (GAP)

As indicated by the Satrava Support website, “Grade Adjusted Pace estimates an equivalent pace when running on flat land, allowing the runner to compare hilly and flat runs more easily. Because running uphill requires extra effort, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be faster than the actual pace run. When running downhill, the Grade Adjusted Pace will be slower than the actual pace”.

The adjustment is said to become larger as the grade steepens, although research has shown that the downhill adjustment peaks around -20%, after which it becomes slightly less extreme. However, it is important to note that Grade Adjustment Pace doesn’t account for terrain differences or the technical difficulties of running downhill. 

Moving Time

This feature is used for all running activities that don’t depend on fair competition such as races and segments. The moving time is calculated in two ways:

  • If there is no pause on the Garmin device, it will automatically detect when you are resting and it will calculate moving time and pace using only GPS data. The moving threshold is anything faster than a 30-minute mile pace for running activities. 
  • If you choose to pause during the activity on your device, it will honour that choice and represent moving time according to the time and pace shown on the GPS.

Elapsed Time

This is used for the pace analysis of all running races, laps view, and segment efforts. Elapsed time measures the total elapsed time of the run, including stops and pauses. The Strava Support website mentions that this could be the fairest and most accurate way to represent pace for workout efforts and competitive running activities.

What is the difference between moving time and elapsed time?

The main difference between moving time and elapsed time is that the first is defined as the duration from the moment you hit ‘Start’ on your device or phone to the moment you finish thE activity and it can include spotlights, coffee breaks, bathroom stops., etc. In contrast, moving time is considered a measure of how long you were active. 

Moreover, Strava will attempt to calculate this information based on GPS locations, distance, and speed of activity. 

When does Strava show moving time?

Strava will show the moving time when looking at any activity’s details. Moving time is believed to be the best measure of how long you were active, especially during sports like running or cycling. The app will normally prioritize moving time and pace based on moving time in places like the activity feed, activity screens, and pages, challenges, goals, and stats.

However, there are some exceptions according to the Strava Support website:

  • If an activity is tagged as a race, we will use elapsed time (and speed/pace based on elapsed time) as all stops count as part of your race time.
  • Certain sports lend themselves better to elapsed time, including indoor ones like Yoga and Weight Training, and some outdoor ones like Skiing and Surfing (note that speed for Skis is still based on moving time.)
  • Segments and Best Efforts are always based on elapsed time, as these are similar to races in that resting time is part of how long it takes you to complete them from start to finish.

Why is my Strava pace wrong?

This could happen virtually to any of the available apps, where you may notice that when you are running it shows you are going faster than you really are. Additionally, you may have noticed that Strava updates the time and average pace based on how you label the run. So, if you label a run anything other than a race, the app will still show a ‘moving time’.

As indicated on mediun.com, “Strava explains that runners can get a more accurate pace by consistently manually pausing the app while mid-run — like at traffic lights — but I generally find this to be a pain in the ass”.

However, you can choose not to pause the app at all, which will use the accelerometer built-in to your chosen device to detect running motion but it is unclear whether pacing would include walk breaks or not. 

Strava free vs Strava Summit

As you may know already, most Strava features are free for you to use but some of the premium features are paid-for. The paid version is now called Strava Summit and it has three packs that you could pay for individually or collectively on a month or annual basis. 

It is a personal choice to go with the free or personal version and the difference is that the free version includes activity recording, device support and Social Network while the paid version includes all of the features mentioned plus route planning, segment competition, Training Dashboard, advanced metrics, among others.

Why is this blog about How does Strava measure pace important?

As we have mentioned on how Strava measures pace, we can conclude that  Strava uses recent data such as race or time trial to estimate or calculate running pace zones. Run data is bucketed into pace zones using Grade Adjusted Pace, which allows easy comparison of equivalent-effort pace on flat and hilly runs.

Moreover, we talked about ‘Active Recovery’ which is very easy running, usually done before or after a hard workout. Next, we saw ‘Endurance’, which is comfortable running and often referred to as ‘conversational pace’. Finally, we mentioned ‘Tempo’ which often matches the intensity of a Marathon.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Strava measure pace

Can Strava tell you your pace?

Strava can tell your pace by simply using it as normal during your recording. You will receive periodic updates about your time and pace over your phone’s speaker on your headphones.

How do you calculate your average pace?

To calculate your average pace while running, you can divide your run time by your distance and if you run 3 miles in 30 minutes that means 30 min/3 miles= 10 minutes per mile pace.

Can Strava show current speed?

Strava can show your current speed, pace and data, plus additional data from paired devices. The Strava app is free to download but will only include activity recording, device support and social network. With the Subscription, you also get activity recording, device support, social network, route planning, segment competition, training dashboard, HR and power analysis, advanced metrics, among many others.   

Are Strava times accurate?

Strava is believed to be fairly accurate when displaying current speed, pace and other data.  Strava is about as accurate as of the GPS that feeds the data. If it is your phone’s GPS, then it may be affected by where you wear it or carry it, since your body can occlude the signal from some of the satellites making it somewhat less accurate. 

What is the average pace?

The average running speeds (or pace) is based on several factors. In 2015 Strava reported the average speed for men in the US at 9:03 minutes per mile (1.6 kilometres). The average pace for women was 10:21 per mile.

References 

Support.strava.com

medium.com 

Wareable.com 

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