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The Joy of Strava

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

I’m doing Martin Yelling’s Jantastic this year.

It’s not going well.

One week I had to play my “Joker”.

The next week I couldn’t do all my runs and you can’t play your Joker in consecutive weeks.

So I had to let my team down and miss a week.

Then I got “back on it”, had two good weeks then forgot to load my runs on Monday just gone.

I’d give up but fear incurring the wrath of Mrs Pacepusher. I’m an angel, and I fear to tread.

Anyway, this post’s not about Jantastic. It’s about the happy by-product of my failed attempt at Jantasticating. Strava (loving that clean home page design Stravas).

You see. I’ve got a rather shonky Garmin. My friends make fun of it. It’s an £80 job. A Forerunner 10. Even Garmin’s tryng to disown it. They call it their “simplest running watch”.

Now, I knew I could charge it off my laptop’s USB port. However, such is its shonkiness I kind of assumed it wasn’t capable of uploading to t’Internet. Me of little faith.

With a couple of hours Internet-fiddling-around I had Garmin Express downloaded to my laptop, all my runs for the past however-long uploaded to Garmin Connect, and the whole kit and caboodle synced over to Strava.

Caroline told me to do Strava because this way all I had to do was plug my Garmin into my laptop USB port and a magical syncathon would commence.

Before you could say Ingrid Kristiansen, Garmin would have gone to Strava, would have gone to Jantastic. And I’d have done my bit for the Jantastic cause.

But then I noticed the orange logos at the side of the parkrun results every Saturday and I started looking into this Strava mullarkey.

And to cut a long story short, it’s brilliant. Here’s what I’m getting out of it.

Kinda like David Sawyer’s six top Strava tips for runners (it started off as a cyclist thing but now seems light-years ahead of rivals like Endomondo when it comes to running).

#1: Facebook for Runners

Yes, Strava is like Facebook for runners. But it’s like open access Facebook. So, we’ve all been there. We’ve had a chat with someone, got to know them a bit and are looking to cement that casual acquaintance. We send a friend request. Tumbleweed blows through the information superhighway and we’re left feeling slighted. No chance of that with Strava. Follow away. Follow to your heart’s content (I think there is a way, actually, whereby you can restrict your profile. But most people haven’t worked that out yet).

#2: Inspiration

I get inspiration from everywhere as a runner. I’ve blogged on this before. But the best inspiration comes from people you know. People you’ve met. And with Strava you can see exactly what training they’re doing. What are they doing a 400m rep in on the track? Someone getting roughly the same time as you at a given distance? How are they doing it? Hmmm, maybe the difference between them and you is that midweek tempo.

#3: Psychology

Who’s a cheater? Who cares enough to stop their watch umpteen times during a variable-speed long run just to maintain their average pace, glossing over the recovery miles? Guilty as charged. And who’s running their reps faster at the end of their sessions than the start? Who’s maintaining a consistent pace? And what can you learn from them? Watch out for that time elapsed by the way. I still haven’t worked it out.

#4: Geography

Before Strava I had no idea how people I know living in different parts of England were training for the London marathon. Strava shows you exactly what your peers are doing. And, I must say, it’s given me a good kick up the backside to get my miles up and increase my intensity.

#5: Danger!

I’m now following 30 or so runners on Strava. Some are better than me, some not…but all in the same ballpark. The problem is now, every time I check my Strava, someone is, to coin a phrase, giving it laldy. You can’t compete with them all, all the time.

And another thing. Strava doesn’t tell you anything about their work days, physio appointments, massages, family commitments, the balancing of which makes a successful runner.

~StravaBantz is banter between runners on Strava

#6: #StravaBantz

It’s all about the #Bantz nowadays. You gotta love #StravaBantz. I think there’s a lot of suppressed tension expressed in the predominantly male world of #StravaBantz. “Nailed it tonight Dave”. “Get in there!” And then there’s the on-show literary comedic capers which the enclosed nature of Facebook hides. What fun! But #StravaBantz aside, Strava is another support mechanism for us runners. To encourage each other. To praise.

And to lie in bed thinking how the heck did he do that. Right. Must try harder.

Photo credit: damo1977 / Foter / CC BY