We recently reviewed the Strava fitness score, to see how it measures up as a useful metric to track fitness and wellness. After sharing the article on forums a number of users pointed out that there are Chrome extensions that provide similar in depth analysis of your Strava data, without having to get a Strava Premium subscription. This article in an Elevate Review. Elevate for Strava is one of those recommended extensions that provides fitness trends and analysis.
Setup and Syncing Elevate to Strava
The first step with the Elevate extension is to import all of your activities. It uses the Strava Api and tries to not overload the servers when importing so this takes a few minutes, especially if you have been an activity user of Strava over an extended period of time.
Once updated initially Elevate stays up to date and will sync new activities fairly quickly. Even if you only use it once a month to reset a training plan. Importing new events is fairly automatic, you just have to tap the sync option that appears in the top right of the applet and it’ll grab any new activities. With any data there is an opportunity to have duplicates or syncing issues so if you find Elevate not updating, try clearing all the activities and restarting with a new sync. There is no historical information that can not be recalculated, so there is minimal risk in doing a reset.
Charts, Graphs, and Strava Data Display with Elevate
The real upside of Elevate is in the data visualization as well as their display of an “Estimated Fitness Trend”. The fitness trend is most similar to Strava’s “Fitness and Freshness” calculation which is only available to Strava Premium users. Given that Strava is $7.99/month or $60/year, this really shows the value of Elevate. If you use Strava premium socially, either for leaderboards, live segments, or for heat maps, then it still may be useful, but if you are using it primarily for the increased data visibility of fitness, FTP estimates, etc. then Elevate may be a good solution.
The fitness trends graphs show a Fitness, Fatigue, and Form score that is charted over time. These trends take into consideration the Power Stress Score (PSS) and Running Stress Score (RSS) which compare each individual activity to your maximum. For cycling this means using power output of an activity compared to the Functional Threshold Power, for running this uses a simple pace calculation compared to running functional threshold pace. Both threshold power and threshold pace require initial input in Athlete settings. This means that you have to have some baselines understanding of your threshold paces, you can find them easily online and estimate them using a variety of calculators, and keep it up to date.
My favorite chart on Elevate is the annual tracking. This is because I personally set annual goals every year, including some that are cumulative “Run 500 miles” or “Cycle 2,000 miles” and the chart shows how each year actually progresses. This is a net addition even over Strava Premium, which only shows goal tracking for the individual year and offers no easy way to compare to past years.
The annual charts also offer a rolling option, so that you can see how your total training load at any given point in the year was trending based on the trailing ew months. In large part this can tell a story of injuries, training blocks, or simple motivation. I have years that were super consistent but lower totals, and year that had great trends as well as huge plateaus where I simply wasn’t being as active. This is also a good mid-year motivator to realize, there is still a lot of opportunity since even just three months of my best years still wind up being more total training load than other years in their entirety.
How to View Elevation Loss & Downhill Pace in Strava
One of the cool bits of Elevate is that it spits out tons of additional data that is not native. It makes sense not to display everything, since for most users data about quartiles and % distribution of incline is simply too much. But for someone who really wants to dive into the data it can be enlightening.
Of the additional metrics there is a small treasure of information tied up in the elevation profile of a workout. Elevate spits out some interesting stats around the average pace based on the incline that you are traveling over. This lets you see much more than just, how many feet of elevation did the activity have, and provides details about the min and maximum inclines as well as how your pace varies over that time.
Unfortunately it does not do feet of decline for individual splits, but it does spit out a total decline for the activity. Especially for point to point runs this is a better metric than trying to subtract (maxmium elevation – minimum elevation) since it is rare that those two points are the start and end points of a workout.
If you are using Strava on desktop then all of this information is accessible through the “Display elevate extended stats” which appears for each activity on the activity summary page.
Elevate For Strava For Safari?
Elevate is a free open source project that is maintained by an unpaid developer. Although it has been generously developed and released in extension form for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browsers at this point it is not available for the Safari browser. There is a MacOS desktop build of Elevate available for mac users.
For the most part trying to access Elevate on a mobile device is not going to be great anyways (which is likely why it is not available or supported on Android or iOS). The tool itself is a strong implementation of how to display data in a visual manner and most of the charts and graphs require a larger screen to be able to navigate and digest the displayed information.
Although the Elevate app is well developed, as an unpaid project it may not continue to have support indefinitely. The release builds (as of mid 2022) are at only 4 months old so support and expansion of the project are possible if it continues to have adoption and users support the developer. To find the latest on the app, check the Elevate for Strava development page on github.
Alternatives to Elevate For Strava
As a free extension that is supported on most of the major browsers, there is good reason to adopt Elevate directly. That said, there are some good alternatives if you want to get access to the function of mobile, see similar metrics, or grab the same functionality.
If you insist on using Elevate on a mobile device, you can get the Kiwi Browser from which you can install the elevate extension and be viewed on the phone. There does not seem to be a reliable way to get Elevate for Strava on iPhone. In large part this is due to the data management required to host and display all of the data related to activities, as a free app it seems that most of this processing is done on device and given the small area to render charts it does not make a lot of sense to prioritize mobile development.
There are also other similar services that output this type of training data. The obvious one is Strava Premium, which produces Fitness and Freshness chart but with more limited display options. Many users also suggest Training Peaks, Runalyze, and SmashRun, all of which we will share reviews of shortly.