The Spoked readiness score and how it works

Richard Lang
10 mins

We recently asked our community, “What are the main things you look at on a daily basis in Spoked?” We found that it was generally two things: viewing the workout for the day and completing their health stats. In essence, it’s about understanding what you need to achieve for the day. You can view the survey we used here.

Digging further, we asked ourselves, ‘What else would a rider want to know about today?’ And in particular, ‘What question would they ask themselves?’ We landed on, “How am I doing today?” Why? The answer impacts the type of training you could complete and how you would mentally prepare for it.

I believe this question is split into two parts around on-the-bike versus off-the-bike progress. The thing with progress is knowing what to measure - what’s going to move the needle? It’s impossible for a rider to produce a new PB or ride more miles every week. Features that reward progress based on these values are beneficial, but not sustainable. There are periods in our training where things are tough, we’re tired and we’re looking for these little wins to keep us going.

There is a great saying by James Clear, “Focus on the process over the outcome”. Based on this insight, we decided to create our own Spoked readiness score focused on identifying and rewarding key habits within the training process to help a rider become faster and enjoy their riding more.

What’s been interesting about crafting our own readiness score is that, yes, they’re quite common within the health and fitness space, but how clearly are they understood? I don’t mean the shiny UI but rather do people understand what drives the score and how personalised they are to the individual who uses them?

The purpose of this blog is to break down the Spoked readiness score, highlight our approach, showcase the benefits for riders and show you how businesses can take advantage of the Spoked readiness score within their product.

What is a readiness score?

The purpose of the readiness score is to help you identify how ready you are to train today. There are 5 categories with 100 being the top possible score. It’s broken down into:

  1. Very Low
  2. Low
  3. Average
  4. Good
  5. Excellent

This top line score is displayed within the home screen of the Spoked app to help you understand how you’re going today. With a simple summary title, back up copy and the readiness score, it should provide you with enough insight into how ready you are today in alignment with your personalised training plan.

Spoked home page with the new readiness score
Spoked home page with the new readiness score

What 5 factors drive your readiness score?

There are 5 factors that drive your readiness score which we believe are key to performing at your best on the bike. For your sleep time, sleep quality, mental and physical freshness there are two values you can view within the results page. The actual values e.g. sleep time you achieved for the day and a contribution % towards your overall readiness score. The goal for the contribution % is to reach 100%. In doing so, you’re maximising the best possible score you can achieve for your overall readiness score.

1. Recovery

Your recovery score is a combination of your effort points, number of hours trained and health stats over the last 5 dayse. The higher the recovery score, the more recovered you are or the better you’re handling the workload. What’s important to remember is that it is expected that your recovery number will drop as you train smart and hard. To improve on the bike you need to stress the body and then allow it to recover. The recovery score can provide great insight into how you’re handling your training workload, for example, if it’s dropping slower than previous times, then this is progress as your body adapts to the load.

The Recovery results page for the readiness score
The Recovery results page for the readiness score

2. Sleep time

The sleep time reflects the total amount of time you were asleep for, not how long you were in bed. This data is collected via the health stats form you answer after completing a ride or at any point during the day. However, we do recommend users complete this form first thing in the morning.

Sleep questions asked within the health stats form in Spoked
Sleep questions asked within the health stats form in Spoked

The goal is to strive for 8 hours per night which is the optimum amount of sleep for most people. Of course, this is not always achievable and therefore, there is a +/10% allowance. Your sleep time baseline is created from 3 days of data and builds into a rolling 14 day window.

The Sleep time results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score
The Sleep time results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score

3. Sleep quality

Your sleep quality reflects how good your sleep has been. Sleeping straight through the night with no interruptions gives you a better nights sleep than if you wake up several times during the night. Like sleep time, it’s established from your personal feedback collected within the health stats form. In the future, the goal is to decouple this personal feedback with data we can collect from wearables.

The Sleep quality results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score
The Sleep quality results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score

4. Mental freshness

Mental freshness captures how you’re feeling mentally as it can impact your performance. There is a great saying; “Happy Mind = Fast Legs”. Perhaps this rings true in multiple aspects of your life. Like sleep, mental freshness is captured within your daily health stats form.  

Physical and mental questions asked inside the health stats form
Physical and mental questions asked inside the health stats form

Touching on the heart rate variability (HRV) element, leveraging your feedback around mental and physical freshness helps us capture elements of what HRV would do. Sure it won’t be 100%, but asking you to take 3 to 5 seconds within your day to think about how you’re going mentally has a positive impact. It also makes you more self-aware, which is the first step to making changes.

The Mental freshness results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score
The mental freshness results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score

5. Physical freshness

Physical freshness reflects how you’re physically feeling and provides insight into how you’re handling the training workload. Like mental freshness, this is captured within the health stats form and best entered first thing in the morning.

The physical freshness results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score
The physical freshness results page that contributes to the Spoked readiness score
Curious to try out Spoked? Use the code - readiness - when you first sign up to enjoy 30 days free, instead of the normal 14 days.

Your personalised baselines

To calculate your readiness score, Spoked looks at three baselines of various time periods to make an assessment of how you are doing today.

1. Rolling 5 day window

Spoked uses a rolling 5 day window to calculate your readiness score. You need to have a minimum of 3 days of health stats data within the 5 day window to get a score. This data is then compared against the optimum and, if available, your baseline. Having all 5 days complete will give you a more precise score.

2. The baseline

The baseline represents your 'normal'. Spoked uses a rolling 14 day window to calculate your baseline. You will need to have completed a minimum of 10 days within the 14 day window to establish a baseline, but completing all 14 days will give you a more precise number.

3. Optimum

This is what you should be aiming for for each health variable. These numbers are underpinned by science and research, and over time you should ideally hope to see your baseline moving closer to the optimum. For example, in your build phases which are the toughest blocks of your training plan, you won’t be as physically fresh. Spoked understands this and it will be reflected in your readiness score when the calculations are made.

The science behind the optimum benchmarks

The optimum benchmarks for each of your 5 variables and the reasoning behind them are as follows:

1. Recovery

Your recovery score is a combination of your 14 day baseline (Chronic) and 5 day load (Acute) that factors in your training data and your health scores compared against the optimum marker set for the phase. It is inspired by the ACWR model. Your recovery score is a number out of 100 that effectively highlights how hard you’ve had to work to achieve the effort points (workload) for the day. The closer to 100 you are, the more recovered you are.

As you train, be aware of how quickly your recovery score is dropping. If it steadily drops it highlights you’re handling the workload well, compared to it dropping quickly and training in the red. This will indicate that you aren’t fully recovered and it’s time to implement a few rest days within your training week.

The ACWR model that the Spoked readiness score is inspired from. Source.

2. Sleep time

The optimum benchmark to strive for across your training plan is about 8 hours per night. Sleep research has shown that sleeping too little can affect your memory and immunity. It has been proven that chronic sleep duration of < 6 hours has been associated with increased risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. One thing to note is the power of naps during the day and this is something we’ll consider in future iterations of Spoked.

3. Sleep quality

Just because you might get 10 hours of sleep each night, it doesn’t mean it’s of high quality. The optimum standard of sleep quality that you want to strive for is 85%. Normal sleep efficiency is considered to be 80% or greater but as you’re training, you want to be as healthy as possible. 85% is the optimum benchmark you’ll strive for.

4. & 5. Mental and Physical freshness

The optimum benchmark to strive for is a level 2 (we accept that it is unlikely to be 100% physically or mentally fresh, or a 1 in this case), with 10 equalling super stressed or fatigued. The freshness is modelled from the ACWR model that provides an index for a rider’s readiness. As a result, it is expected that a rider’s mental and physical freshness will be lower throughout the harder training blocks, i.e build 2 and build 3.

How is the Readiness score calculated?

The readiness score is a combination of your sleep time, sleep quality, mental and physical freshness and your recovery score. These variables are determined by the health stats you enter and the rides you complete.

The reason we factor in your training data via the recovery score model is that your readiness score is closely linked to your overall training plan. What’s interesting is the overall usefulness of this type of score for those currently training, as Marco from HRV4training states.

“If you train, there is absolutely no point looking at readiness or recovery scores to assess how you are responding to a given training stimulus as these scores confound your response with your behavior. Is the score low because I responded poorly, or just because I did more? This approach not only provides you with poor information about your actual response, but fools you to believe the tool works. You go hard or do more, and they tell you you need to recover. In fact, you might be doing very well and be ready for another big training block.”

We agree, and that’s why our model is different from the rest. Your readiness will drop at different rates based on how fit you are. So if you’re doing more training than you’ve previously done, but you’re handling the workload well, your readiness will reflect this.

So let’s break down why this is the case by looking at how your recovery score for the day is calculated. It’s a combination of the number of days and hours trained, efforts points achieved per day, your health values compared to the optimum benchmark, and previous recovery scores. Once calculated, your present day value is established within your rolling 5 day window.  

Your present day score in the context of your rolling 5 day window is compared to your personalised baseline, which can be up to 14 days. If your present day score is lower than your baseline, it indicates you’ve been training hard and it will continue to decline. However, if your present day score is higher than your baseline, it will indicate you’re finding the training comfortable and the score will hold steady. Over a number of consecutive days, if your recovery score is higher than the baseline, the recovery score will start to increase.

The second category that contributes to your readiness score is your health based habits that you input on a daily basis. Each day, each variable is compared to the optimum benchmark and your personalised baseline. If your health variable is higher than the optimum benchmark, you’ll receive the best possible outcome for the day. However, if it’s lower than the optimum but higher than your baseline only a small improvement will be seen.

By highlighting each variable to you, you’re able to identify and improve a specific habit so you can maximise your on-the-bike performance. Riding a bike faster or generally improving in training, is more about the time spent on the bike or hours in the gym.

You received a low readiness score, what can you do to improve it?

A low readiness score
A low Readiness score

First, identify what areas of the readiness score you need to pay attention to. If we look at the score above as an example, we can see three areas for improvement: recovery, sleep quality and sleep time. It goes without saying that a good night's sleep makes a world of difference. If your sleep time and quality is down, analyse your sleep routine. Areas you can look at to improve are:

  • No phones before bed
  • Be consistent when you go to bed and wake up
  • Keep your room nice and cool
  • Try to keep your room dark. If you can’t, invest in an eye mask.

When you’re looking to improve your recovery score, this is impacted by your health variables but also your training. Generally if your recovery score is poor for a sustained period of time, it’s a sign that you’re overtraining. To help avoid this, keep your ride to the desired zones. For example, when there is zone 2 (endurance) work planned, keep it to zone 2, no matter how good you feel. The goal is to keep your riding easy as a common mistake is to go too hard. If you do this, you’re not able to maximise the benefits of your intense workouts.

Weekly summary page inside Spoked
Weekly summary page

Additionally, you can consider your weekly cumulative effort as a guide for how much effort you need to align to your weekly training volume. If you consistently go over the target it will lead to overtraining. However, if it’s continually occurring, it’s a good indication your zones are set too low and it’s a good time to bump them up.  Plus something to consider is when you’ve reached the target effort points for the week, you may have a day’s riding left. Turn this into a rest day, even though Spoked will make this day as easy as possible that is aligned to your time to train.

Business use cases

When we build Spoked, we also consider how other businesses can leverage our technology inside their products to support their customers. Utilising the readiness score can provide some unique advantages.

If we look at the coach versus athlete platforms, just imagine a coach seeing a dashboard of tangible readiness scores of their athletes with key off the bike habits they can address straight away.

This therefore enables the coach to take a more proactive approach in providing a greater level of personalised training plans to a greater number of athletes. That’s right, we at Spoked are not about replacing the coach.

In the virtual worlds, the rider can race, ride and pick workouts and at times it’s not clear which workout is best to choose for the day. Having a readiness score can simplify this decision for the rider and increase engagement inside your product, creating a holistic and personalised experience. In addition, there are other features in Spoked which businesses can leverage.

The advantages of the readiness score even extend into hardware. We look at what Garmin and Firstbeat are doing - they’ve set an example. If you partner with us, we can provide you with those advantages and more, by providing more contextual and actionable training insight that will allow your customers to level up. In addition, partnering with us allows you to create a more meaningful experience with your customers; it’s just not that one-time purchase, you’re guiding your customers on their cycling journey. We know riding is more than just throwing a leg over the bike.

Future plans

We have lots of ideas of how we can improve it further around positive behaviour changes and even syncing in with other readiness scores, training data, hydration etc that the everyday rider uses to benefit their training. We'll approach this in iterative way, sharing the learnings as we strive to make personalised training simple.

Curious to try out Spoked? Use the code - readiness - when you first sign up to enjoy 30 days free, instead of the normal 14 days.

Final thoughts

We take a ‘first principle’ approach at Spoked which allows us to get to the core of how we can help everyday athletes make the most of their training. Spoked has been an evolutionary process over the last 6 years. We live and breathe this every day, giving us a unique advantage whilst remaining conscious to stay very narrow in our approach - making personalised training simple.

If you’re curious as to how Spoked can help your business, or have any feedback/questions, it will be great to hear from you at rich@spoked.ai.