Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do you Strava?

When I meet new runners, in an effort to get them to join SEHRC, I ask if they're on Strava.  The typical response is, "Huh?  What's Strava?"

Strava uses GPS (Global Positioning System) data from satellites to track athletic pursuits.  The data is recorded via GPS watch or smartphone and then uploaded to Strava.

 Strava was originally used by cyclists and has since expanded to running and other sports, like swimming.  As Strava evolves, I imagine it will become a social media website for athletes, that tracks not only times and mileage, but food, heart rate, sleep patterns and anything else that can be measured and quantified that relates to a person's health.

Strava has a number of components that are appealing to me as a runner and running club founder.  From a runner's perspective, Strava helps me tie my shoelaces and go out the door.  With Strava, I can track what my friends, as well as professionals, are doing.  It helps me connect with people, as I can comment on their runs and give kudos.  I can also observe other people's training methods and then see how they do in races.

Additionally, Strava has a weekly club leaderboard that tracks total mileage, total elevation gain and total time spent running, which is updated as people upload their runs and is reset every week.  Once you belong to a club of a decent size, it feels good to end up on the week's final leaderboard, which only lists the top three in each category.  During the week, all runners are listed.

The other cool thing about Strava are the crowns or CRs (course records).  People can create run segments.  Then, as people run them, Strava tracks the runs and records and ranks the fastest efforts.  Chasing crowns can be a dangerous thing, as many a neophyte to Strava has been more concerned with course records, then proper training.  However, like anything new, once a runner becomes accustomed to Strava, the desire to nab CRs ebbs.  Instead, a runner can look at their past efforts on segments to gauge their fitness and see if they're improving.

From a club founder's perspective, Strava allows me to easily have a running club online.  Runners can find SEHRC on Strava and join if they want.  I can also invite people to join.  Strava automatically compiles all emails for club members, so I don't have to track them.  (I don't even know what they are.)  I can send posts to members and set-up group runs.  I can also make others "Admins" and they can also set up group runs.  Members can start discussions.    

What's really neat is that for upcoming runs, members can RSVP.  This is cool for races, so everyone can see whose running what.

So the next time some random guy asks you, "are you on Strava," hopefully the answer is, "yes".

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