How do you evaluate your improvements?

I’m new to Zwift and far from a top athlete in shape for competing in the Zwift events. I would rather compete against my own efforts but I can’t find a good way of doing this. I’m probably not the first one trying to improve my results and I would like to know how you do it.

I understand that I can’t race against a ghost / “PB bot” and I can’t see any split times compared to previous efforts. I can’t even find my personal bests for the different routes without using a third party app. In summary, I find it very hard to compete against previous efforts in Zwift compared to other apps.

In many other aspects i prefer Zwift and i’m not sure if I just don’t understand how to use the app. I believe that many Zwift members are competitive and want to compare their own efforts.

How do you do it? How do you evaluate your improvements?

Hi @Johan_Staby

Measuring improvements is much like doing it IRL (in real life), Zwift give you all the data a cycling computer will give you and you can look at it in your favorite training analysis program.

I prefer to use golden cheetah but that may be a bit to much information for most. there are many free software options out there like strava or

Do you get split times against your own previous efforts or just against others attending the same event?

like Gerrie says strava or will give you good information, I find gives a better range of data than strava but strava is good for seeing previous times on a completed route and/or segment of that route e.g it will show your time up the alpe du zwift plus the segments and in strava you can see how you compared to previous attempts etc

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I keep a pretty robust spreadsheet with all sorts of things (I like a good {or even a bad} spreadsheet). Relevant to this question, I look at a few specific things.

I keep the top 5 times for most all of the official segments (KOMs and Sprints), as well as some of the routes (just the ones that I know I’ll do many times). Zwift only keeps those for 30 days, which doesn’t help much, and you can only see them at the time. I use Strava to get the times for those segments. Yes, I know Strava keeps them all, so why do I need to do it too … because I don’t want to search through all 50 times I’ve done the Fuego Flats Forward Sprint, and I want top 5, not top 3, just because. I keep it all in a sheet, and update as needed. I have some IRL segments in there too.

I find that’s also a good motivator. I wasn’t too excited about this off season, but then I decided I wanted to set PBs (or at least get into my top 5s) on a handful of specific segments (ones that I hadn’t been in the top 5 for a long time). That’s motivating me to ride certain routes, or work harder in certain areas, and so far at least, keeping me Zwifting. I’ve been able to set PBs on the Alpe, Epic, Volcano, among others. Putting a new PB (or top 5) in my sheet makes me feel good about the work, and motivates me to do it again.

I keep track of each month’s miles, time, pace, elevation, etc. I can compare month to month, but I can also compare year over year. How’s this January comparing to Jan '21 or Jan '20. I can see that my average speed is Sept, Oct, and Nov is much lower than last year. But I can also see that it’s because my elevation is significantly more than last year, so the lower pace is to be expected. I haven’t climbed as much in Dec and Jan, so my overall speed is coming back in line.

I don’t know that there’s much scientific basis for this, but I also keep track of my Watts/Heart Rate ratio. How high is my heart rate for a given amount of wattage I’m producing. Seems to me that the better shape I am in, the higher that ratio should go. It’s not exact, as a 30 minute race will give a much higher ratio than a 4 hour ride will. And I’ll get very different results on Alpe de Zwift if I exit at the top vs working some on the way down vs coasting down (heart rate’s still up some, but producing 0 watts, so the overall ratio comes down a lot). So I don’t look at individual events so much as I look at overall averages, and if they are improving; are they improving on similar rides. Again, I don’t know that there’s any science to suggest that’s a valuable metric, but it works for me.

In the end, I think it comes down to what you want to see improvement in, and how you want to track it. Honestly, that’s part of why I give Zwift a bit of a pass on not doing a ton more of that. We all have different goals, and would want different things measured. So I took it on myself to track what I wanted to. That’s evolved some over time, as my goals have changed, and I’ve updated my workbook accordingly. So I’d say, think about your goals, and what you want to track, and then think about the best way to be able to do that. Might be a 3rd party tool, or it might be a spreadsheet, or maybe just a piece of paper tacked to the wall in front of your trainer. Whatever keep you going, do it. Ride On!

Love this answer.

I think Bologna is the best leveller (the Alpe is up there too) of how much you have improved in a given time.

I like to every now and then go and try a KOM I haven’t done in a while and try to get a PB.

In terms of how much you are improving there’s a bunch of things you can look at, 15s/1min/5min/20min power, even how much you can hold for an hour. I think real world segments like KOMs are a great indicator of where you’re at on that day too.

But those are just stored for 30 days inside Zwift or has that changed? And if you’re not a beginner that is a very short period to look for significant improvement.

No, I’m referring to Strava segments and power curve.

Thank you for some great answers. I think this is about mind set, before trying Zwift i thought it was more data intensive and more customizable. I don’t really understand why I can’t see all time PB instead of 30 days or why I can’t start a time trial whenever I want (or is it possible?). But it makes sense that it mimics reality and probably I’ll find a way to track my efforts too.

For me it’s the IRL performance on particular sections of a ride over time. I can tell if I’m getting better or not.

Zwift - the easiest way is probably reverse epic KOM because it is shorter than Alpe and you can quickly get to it by starting road to sky and doing U-turn.

That avoids riding through the jungle.

Performances on different segments can be deceiving as drafting will naturally vary from one Zwift ride to another. Some of my Strava PR’s were set while soft pedaling in a large group while doing an event. Granted, this plays a smaller role when climbing, but it still has some impact. If you are simply wanting to evaluate your fitness improvements, it may be better to simply see how many watts you can hold over a specific period of time regardless of any particular course or segment, or simply choose an FTP test to use and retest every 6 weeks or so. It also helps to know what your long term goals are. For instance, someone preparing for a long 1 hour climb will want to train differently than someone looking to PR a 5 minute climb. Cheers!

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I do a weekly ride (~1hr) with a bunch of guys and I used to get dropped 20 mins into the ride now I get dropped 45 mins in. My medium-term goal is to finish with the main group. That ride is my little mental test every Tuesday LOL.