Strava Flyby Lab, why you need it


“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

I ran Long Beach Half Marathon few weeks ago. I was on track to finish under 1:50 up until mile 9, but then ‘I hit the wall‘. My pace went cookoo.  I was running about 8:50 pace close to the end. I trailed behind my 1:50 pace group. I couldn’t explain much of why mile 9, except for the fact that it was really hot. ‘Strava Flyby Lab‘ finally helped me find answers. I have used Strava Flyby feature several times, and I thought I would write about this in my today’s blog.

Most everyone I know that runs, or I run with has a Strava Account. ( ). For those of you that don’t have a Strava account or never heard of Strava, Strava is like Garmin Connect meets MapMyRun meets Facebook for Endurance Athletes. The most common activities that are tracked on Strava are Running and Cycling, but it accommodates tracking swimming as well. I Connect my Garmin/Connect account with Strava, so every time I run, and upload the data to Garmin/Connect, it pushes the data out to Strava.

There are tons of apps, that you can use. I have tried most every one of them. MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Nike+, Garmin Connect – you name it! But I do like how rich and powerful Strava is , as a platform to allow one to track the activities, but to provide way effective post-analysis of such data, and to provide a powerful social media aspect to connect with fellow athletes!

Garmin Connect ( is good to allow you to upload your Garmin Data, and to track/report on and to analyze. However, it does not provide any ‘social media aspect’, and Garmin in my opinion doesnt invest in feature sets for this app. The information you get out of Garmin Connect is very basic. For an example, when you go look at the Lap info for a run, each lap has your pace, but it doesn’t show the elevation gain/loss like Strava does.

Nike+(NRC Nike+ Run Club) is another app I really liked using. My Garmin Connect would upload to Nike+, and Nike+ would compare my miles against my friends, so in a way had an aspect of ‘social media’. Also I really enjoyed the Nike+ Coach feature, that would provide a custom training plan, for your targetted Goal. IF you plan on running a half marathon with a specific date in mind, you have to key in what you want to accomplish (such as beginner, intermediate, advanced), and key in your date of the race, and Nike+ will provide you with week by week/day by day, training plan, that you can follow. However, Nike+ does not provide strong data analysis over your running data.

RunKeeper and MapMyRun – I have used them, but I am just not fond of them.

Strava on the other had, has a very rich set of features built into it. If you run the same route multiple times, it tracks and graphs your progress over time on the route. It provides comparison of your time against other people that run in that area. One of the feature I really like is, after running with a group or race, to go back in Strava to see other people that also ran that race, and see their time, and how they did it. It seems like they got ‘it’. I highly recommend using Strava, and believe me, when you sign up, you will realize most everyone that runs is already on there!

Now to Strava Flyby( I have been familiar with this feature for a while, but haven’t really used it for a specific purpose up until a week ago. What is Strava Flyby?

Like how has the world’s largest Race Result Dataset, Strava, has one of the world’s largest ‘Activity Data set, with about trillion GPS data points. For data scientists, this data, is like a goldmine! Strava Lab focuses on several projects to use this data for different purposes, and FlyBy is one of the project, that interests me very much. In their own definition “FlyBy project is to Playback your activity along with those riding/Running near you. It Helps Find who you passed or ‘Flew by’ while riding/running.”. If you were to run a group run, or race, you go to the website, and copy/paste your activity URL. Strava, then finds other atheletes(whose profiles are public), that run in that route/around that time, and drafts a ‘FlyBy’ map/graph. It lists all the athlets that ran that location, with their distance. During races, it will be tons of people. But your ‘Strava’ friends would be on top of the list with you.


Long Beach Half Marathon – FlyBy

FlyBy shows the distance/time/elevation graph, and compares your time with other people’s time that you choose to compare with. I wanted to use this to review my Long Beach Half Marathon time.

For Long Beach Race, I was pacing with my running group friend Sandra Wendler. So I picked Sandra’s name to compare against my time, to see how I fell behind.

Black is me. Blue is my Pacer – Sandra

From the graph you can see I have kept up with the pacer up until mile 9. and I lagged behind by about 20 seconds between 9 and 11. Even tho the elevation spike of 50 to 60 ft doesn’t mean much to lot of people, I am really bad with hills. and I can see as the hill came, I slowed down more and more, and the time difference went from 20 second to 60 second, and I never gained the momentum after. I finished 1:51. The Pacer finished at 1:49.


With the data, I have figured the heat has a little to do with my slowness, but its the slightest 50/60 ft up hill, that slowed me. I will need to train lot more on hills, to get better, and that is what I will do in the next few months.

Its a nice learning, to help tune my training, and to understand ‘what the wall was’. If the course was flat, i would have kept the 20second distance through the final mile probably . So Hill Training is in order! As far the heat, I don’t know what to do to cope with heat. I need to talk to others.

FlyBy can be used for any activities. Ideally for your group runs.

IF you have your GPS data, in one of the  .tcx, .fit or .gpx format, you can manually import them into strava, and use the activity to use FlyBy feature from there on as well.

Hope you find this helpful! Leave me a comment, if you have any suggestions on how to cope with heat!

And use FlyBy if you run with others to get better with your time!


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