Have you tried Strava yet? Best way to find your speed and distance plus you can race against friends and strangers!
If you’re a cyclist / sociopath, you’ll know all about Strava Joking aside, we’re sure also that many runners have come across it and are
using it too. In fact I know there are, but there’s more to it than simply having your ego stroked for being fastest on a certain segment.
Only last week I was on a run in the Blue Mountains with some local boys and on approach to the final hill, one of them (who will duly remain unnamed), reveled in delight at telling me what the record was for this section – so off we went in pursuit. Naturally I failed miserably!
But if you’re wondering what all the hype is about, Ultra168 reader and now guest reviewer, Leonie Doyle has offered up her services to explain to us technologically backward individuals what it’s all about and how you can use it. Take it away Leonie…
Strava. In case you’ve been out on the trails too long and not heard, Strava operates a virtual competition for recreational athletes, and it’s not just for cyclists. It’s also a great running partner.
Strava works with just about any Garmin device, or with an iPhone or Android app. No word on Suunto connectivity yet. You go out, do your thing, come home and upload. Like Garmin Connect, Strava analyses your distance, pace and elevation, and shows you a map of where you’ve been. The interface looks good and (generally) works well. But it goes a couple of steps further.
The first thing that’s unique about Strava is its social features. Users can follow other members, give them ‘kudos’ for their activities and exchange comments.
But Strava’s most intriguing feature is the ability to create ‘segments’ out of specific parts of a route. Segments can be sprint distance or ultra-distance and they are great motivators. Knowing that there are invisible timing mats ahead can transform junk miles into punishing interval sessions.
Segment enthusiasts have come up with some wicked names for their favourite haunts. You could do worse than climb the Stairs of Despair, ride up Spew Hilland then shed some Blood, sweat and fear. If all that sounds too hard there’s always the douche-grade Col de Hipster.
Uploading is a bit like unwrapping a present; you never know what you’re going to get. It was only after my unforced error riding 9km of shoulder-less road linking the Federal Highway with the industrial and airport traffic that I realised not only had I performed Death Defying Acts, but that I had nabbed the fastest time.
Anyone whose workout passes through a segment goes onto a virtual leader board, like a race that everyone runs on a different day. The person who records the fastest time over a segment is awarded King of the Mountain (KOM) for men or QOM for women. Yes, even if it’s flat. There are places for the top ten in popular segments (9th overall etc). And for those who aren’t at the pointy end, there are personal records (PRs) so performance can be tracked over time. If someone takes a KOM off you, you get an ‘Uh oh!’ message via email and (in theory) the desire to claim it back.
Strava (it means ‘Strive’ in Swedish) started in 2008 when its creator Michael Horvath saw the need for a friendly competition for fit amateurs who kept their own hours. What was a handful of avid cyclists is now a global army; it is estimated that there are around a million members.
A growing proportion of these are dedicated runners.
A quick analysis of a 12km segment near Jenolan called Black Range reveals that on the 9th of March 2013—Six Foot Track day—76 runners recorded a time for the segment out of 780 who actually ran through it (just under ten per cent of finishers). One in ten is actually pretty impressive considering that this only includes runners whose best time occurred in the 2013 event.