Recording Personal Bests With Strava

Strava is the go to place for most people when it comes to tracking the runs of yourself and following your friends and generally helping to see how you’re progressing (I love a Strava segment!).

Since it’s supposed to do most things for your automatically one thing I often see confusing other runners is personal bests (PBs!)

Strava will calculate what is called a “best effort” for key distances (10k, half marathon, marathon). Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the same as personal best or personal record as Stava calls them, and it often records things incorrectly or the numbers don’t match up with the race times.

There are lots of reasons this can happen. Sometimes there are simple explanations

For example,

My best marathon result currently stands at 3:45:53 at the Edinburgh marathon earlier in the year. .

That’s the official time I was given from the event.

EdinResult2018

However, Strava currently has my marathon best as 3:44:30

StravaPB

In this case the reason is because I’d covered the 26.2 miles before I passed the finish line.

How does that work?!

There is an optimally measured route when running a road race. When you’re going around bends unless you take the inside of that bend you’ll run slightly further. Also on busy straights if you are weaving around slower runners this adds to the distance too. On short races this isn’t massively important but over the course of a marathon it all adds up. For my Edinburgh marathon my GPS recorded me as running 26.36 miles. That’s 257 metres extra!

edindis2018 

In terms of race results they don’t care about how far I ran. They measure the course as 26.2 miles and it’s up to me to cover those miles as efficiently as possible and they give me a time at the end.

So if I’m using the official race result as my personal best then it won’t match up with the time Strava recorded when I went past the 26.2 mile mark.

The reverse can also be true. If Strava records you as running an event slightly short (as Strava sometimes does that when it “tidies” your GPS file) Then it won’t recognise that you’ve run the complete distance so won’t record it as a best effort.

Strava recognises this on their support page for Best Efforts

“It’s also possible you came up just short of the Best Effort distance. Estimate Best Efforts can be finicky – especially when they barely cover the milestone distance. We suggest running through the milestone you are hoping to achieve.”

Strava doesn’t let you alter your best efforts. It’s all based on the raw data you upload.

So how do you keep track of personal bests?

Well, Strava has it’s own section for this, called personal records

Here are mine at the moment.

StravaPR

This is a totally manual affair. If you want to track them you have to update them yourself.

To do that.

On your PC or laptop go to Strava.com and sign in 

NOTE – this only works on the full version of the site so won’t work in the app on your phone or tablet. It might work in the browser but you’ll need to force the non-mobile page to be display

Click on your profile picture in the top left hand corner

StravaPic

Scroll down the page and look on the right hand side

Here you’ll see the estimated best efforts and “All-Time PRs”

PRs

Hopefully you’ve spotted the “Add PR” button

PRButton

When you click that it’ll list all the available distances you can record a PR for.

When you hover over an entry it’ll allow you to add one or edit/remove an existing one

AddPR

When you do that you’ll be prompted to enter your time as well as provide links to your “proof” of the time by way of the activity on Strava and any online results that may be available.

PRentry

That’s it!

If someone then visits your profile and clicks the time they’ll be able to follow the links you’ve entered.

You also have the option of editing the time directly from here too. 

ViewPR

What you record is entirely up to you. I only track PBs from races, anything I do in training doesn’t count. My only exception to that rule is 1 mile. I like to track that as a vanity thing!

That’s just my preference though.

Obviously you don’t have to do any of this. Some people like to write their PBs in a notebook, on a chalkboard next to their medals or just have them memorised but it’s a feature I find useful.

Hope this helps someone else!

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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