Speed and Distance (in app) and why it matters, or doesn't

I’ve seen a number of posts from folks who are genuinely upset when their speed and distance calculated or displayed in the app doesn’t match their expectations or their efforts when workouts have been done in the past.

To me, similar to elevation, since the workouts in SYSTM are NOT an attempt at a simulation of the outside world (though arguably some of the pro-rides could be seen that way) these metrics are meaningless and I never show them on screen when doing SUF/SYSTM vids nor am I fussed by the results reported post workout and synced to Strava. However, it is obviously really very important for some people to see these metrics and to have them recorded, reported, and as accurate as can be calculated.

I am wondering, if any of the Coaches or SUF/SYSTM/wahoo scientists could weigh in on this issue and maybe even write a post of their own on the topic. I think it would be welcomed.

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I do not show them on the screen either.

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Yeh, it’s not for me, more of a public service for those that do. I AM curious what the scientists and coaches take is on it though.

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I think it’s a ticking Strava boxes etc more than a science thing, so not sure the coaches can help.

If someone did add elevation gains, I wonder if there’d be a rush to do a Sufferfest Everesting?

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I appreciate Suf speed, in that it helps me gauge rough performance and distance (for maintenance).

I find suf speed fairly accurate for me in flatlandria, so it’s useful as a rough gauge of what my expected performance will be when I come out of winter hibernation next year.

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I’ve done a few virtual Everestings and the only apps that are officially recognized are RGT and Zwift even though Rouvy and some others actually sim real world climbs. Also, Knighthood is, imho, a tougher challenge cuz you’re only allowed 10 mins between breaks. Don’t get me wrong, vEveresting is hard AF but it’s just a different kind of challenge.

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I never look at distance/speed. Time is a much better metric to track, but that only tells you so much. I’m not sure which, but one of the podcasts discuss that mileage isn’t the best metric to track training volume. That said I can see how it’s frustrating if your speed is crazy out.

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My two cents: I also never look at speed or distance during workouts. Power, cadence and HR are all I use.

I can see that Suf Speed (assuming it is somehow calculated based on power) could be meaningful. I think bike wheel speed on the trainer is pretty much meaningless as you can change it by shifting gears, and the trainer adjusts resistance to maintain constant power.

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I am with you the first thing I did with the new app is remove distance and speed from the progress bar. All I need is current watts, target watts and RPE.

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I only ever used to have HR, cadence, and power but after listening to the podcasts I’ll be adding RPE.

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First, thanks @Coach.Rupert.H!! I was aware of the article. I guess the official answer is that with your new formula, you are trying to give a reasonable approximation of what speed and distance would be covered over the course of any cycling done within SYSTM. I get that.

What I am wondering about specifically though, is whether it “matters” at all from a training/coaching/sports science perspective. If it doesn’t then maybe that can be noted. If it does, then maybe that could be explained. Like I noted in my original post, I’m personally not invested in the topic but it seems there are a lot of folks, especially recently, who are and I thought it might be worth quelling their fears with how SYSTM captures and reports speed and distance with an explainer post in the Forums.

There is SOOOOO much great info on the Support and Blog sites which I myself regularly access but there are a lot of peeps who come to the forums or FB before looking anywhere else. Thanks again!

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Heck I don’t even look at speed IRL!

:grimacing::wink:

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Got it, I’m with you! Leave it with me and I will see if we can put something together for you about speed.

People do find speed and distance useful though if training without a power meter it gives something to measure agains on indoor vs. outdoor workouts.

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Thanks @Coach.Rupert.H. I think the community will appreciate it and once it’s done, I can always link people to the post, and the support site article.

This explains why my speed and distance have gone up so much from before the switch to SYSTM and why there is such a discrepancy between the Wahoo APP and the SYSTM app for speed, i.e. when putting out 132 virtual watts Wahoo app reads about 20km/hr and the SYSTM app reads about 25km/hr. Glad I read through the forum before posting it as a bug.

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I can understand why people want to accurately measure these metrics. For example increasing annual training distance is often a goal of people, so psychologically being able to track distance is important to them.
I would say the main focus should be the hours on the bike. As riding an hour downhill is probably less of a training stress with lesser benefit than riding an hour uphill, but obviously one shows more distance than the other.
I myself am a sucker for it, I record everything to strava because of that whole ‘if it isn’t there did it even happen?’. But as a coach I would say duration and what riding you’re doing is the most important thing, not the speed or distance covered

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Personally, the only things that matter to me for the workouts are the power and cadence numbers. These are designed to create a specific training stimulus and all the others (speed, distance, and heart rate) are just byproducts of these. You can’t control them so why pay any attention to them while following a training plan (perhaps different if you’re not following a Suf-plan)?

Having said that, while I don’t display these on my screen while doing the workouts, I still find it useful to monitor my HR and I like to capture the distance since I have an annual mileage target. Therefore, I connect the sensors but I turn off the display.

As a racer, speed means little to me since I know that if i can deliver a certain amount of power, the speed will come. The absolute speed means very little; I just need to be faster than my competitors.

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I record all of my workouts using a Garmin Fenix 6 pro. I only record power, cadence and HR. I choose the ant+ power channel and not the trainer so that I avoid recording the speed/distance as it is a pointless/vanity metric. At the end of the day when I step off the bike I’ve not moved any distance but I’ve put out a load of power.

Speed and distance matter to me, largely because my ultimate training is for triathlon which is largely one giant time trial. So while power is important to me for accurate training and seeing improvement, I want to be able to see approximately how fast I would be going outside (even if I know it’s not entirely apples to apples). And when I go through my workout history I can see that I have faster average speeds and longer distances for the same workouts. Sure I can say I also have higher average or normalized power, but time and distance translates better when trying to compare with my actual triathlon races. And over the past year and a half when I haven’t had access to races, the speed and distance allows me to complete personal challenges of riding 100km or 100 miles or 200 miles without having to be outside. So while, again, I know it’s not a 100% accurate representation of riding outside, it’s close enough to give me something I can use for all these things. And it’s much easier to speak with non-cyclist friends and family by saying “I rode 100 miles,” or “I averaged 21mph” than trying to explain to them the intricacies of my power wattage and watts/kilo, etc, etc.

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