Strava

Strava is an online training log and social network app. It’s an excellent accountability tool that provides motivating feedback and a refreshing way to connect with people.

I joined 2013 and I’ve used it consistently ever since. It’s It’s free to use the basic version and a monthly subscription for their premium product “Summit” which has additional features designed to help you meet your training goals.

Where Facebook, Instagram and others feel like a competition of who has the best life measured in purchasable things and experiences, Strava is a place where the currency is sweat, consistency, and effort. You might follow a world class athlete and give them kudos (the like button of Strava) for an epic ride in a Stage of the Tour de France, and then give the same kudos to your friend who just logged a 12min/mile run training for their first 5K on the treadmill in their office gym. What everyone on the platforms understands is that performance outcomes are relative and it’s the effort that counts not how expensive your road bike is or how high on the podium you get.

That being said there is serious competition on Strava if you want it. Users can create mapped “segments” where the times for a run or ride are ranked according to speed. If you go for a run and pass through a segment you might get a notification that you are on the leaderboard top ten if your time is fast and the fastest male and female earn the KOM/QOM crowns (King/Queen of the Mountain). It’s pretty thrilling to get a KOM/QOM and definitely motivating if you know you are heading into a segment on your planned route. Fortunately Strava breaks down the leaderboards by gender, age, this year, today, all-time, weight and so on allowing you to measure your performance against your age group or whatever metric is most important to you. I’ve found that it provides a helpful kick of dopamine when you finish a session and get a notification that you beat your own PR for that segment or that you were the fastest, or 7th fastest on that segment this week or this year.

Logging workouts on Strava give them another level of reality. Kind of like the philosophical question of “if a tree falls in a wood and no-one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?” If you put in a great solo effort and you record it on Strava, whether anyone looks at it or not it’s there in your log and feels somehow more real just because it’s recorded.

I have the app on my phone and I used to record runs and rides through the phone app which worked fine. These days I record everything via my watch as it’s just easier for me to see pace/time/HR as I go and the watch software automatically uploads everything to Strava once I am done.

When your workout is logged on the platform you can review it via the phone app or desktop website. You’ll see basic metrics which get more granular as you add measurement devices (heart rate monitor, power meter, etc.) and if you subscribe to Summit. It’s definitely helpful and reassuring to look back at your per mile pace over a long marathon training run and see how consistent you were and how your heart rate varied according to pace and elevation gain.

I love using Strava and it’s great for creating a record plus getting positive feedback from the data, records, challenges completed and best of all kudos and comments from friends.