Why Strava Isn’t For Me

It was 10pm, negative three degrees and raining.  I was debating if I should wear my runners (Brooks Ghost) or flats (Brooks Hyperion) to sprint across the Burrard Street Bridge.

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Doesn’t look thaaaaaaat far.

Let’s back up for a second.

I thought Strava was just for people who wanted to brag about their workouts and mileage (nothing wrong with that, bragging can be great), but it’s so much more. An online community that inspires people to be active, Strava offers a window into the training of athletes of all levels of ability. Elites, fit managers who bike to work, walk/run groups – Strava is designed for everyone. Well, it’s really made for hyper-competitive, OCD tracking, record-everything types – so I figured Strava and I should be a match made in heaven.

Jump back to me contemplating my shoe choice on that rainy night: Option one, the Ghost (the one on the left). It’s comfy and good on pavement, but not a racer. The Ghost is my go-to easy running shoe. The Hyperion on the other hand, is more of an attacker. Light and quick, it’s my winning choice.

 

I’ve finished a solid week of training and I’m pretty tired, but the Strava segment record looks attainable, and it’s only a couple minutes jog from my apartment. I scroll down my newly acquired newsfeed, excitement growing as I spot another segment within my 800m wheelhouse. This time it’s a 220m segment by Kits pool. The record is 43s owned by a woman named Karen, which I figure I can crush in no time (or a time under 43s to be precise). “YOU ARE GOING DOWN KAREN!” I cackle mercilessly as I picture snatching the course record away from a stranger’s unsuspecting feet.

I pause for a second to wonder if I will look like a jerk to the online community when my total run mileage is only the 220m segment and Karen likely went for a 30-minute run that included it. Do I care? No! Victory will be mine.

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Wow. What just happened?

I, Devan of the notoriously low mileage, was about to voluntarily add on a run against my coach’s wishes (in the dark rainy night I might add). Secondly, I was motivated by stealing a record from a woman who likely takes great pride in her 43s 200m. Finally – and I’m no injury prevention expert – but sprinting on cement after a hard week of training doesn’t seem like a very good idea… Yikes. That is some flawed logic. Laptop closed, shoes off, “Segment Sniper Devan” is going to sleep on this plan.


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It’s the next day and I’m feeling a bit more… rational. I head out for my run and am instantly agitated. My GPS isn’t syncing. While this is always annoying, it now seems catastrophic. OH MY GOD, people are going to think I am running SO SLOW. This is horrible. Then I realize, I am the one being horrible! Here I am, out doing what I love and I’m obsessed with looking good to other people.

I actually enjoy running really slow. I think it’s great for my recovery. I aim to run based off “feel” – which is hard to do when you’re obsessively checking your pace and comparing yourself to past runs, or worse – other people.

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I don’t mean to dump on Strava. I love the idea of an online running community, and the fact that it’s inspiring so many people to be active is freaking awesome. Lets be honest – running needs all the help it can get to make it a more popular and relatable sport. In a way, I think it’s a bit like social media… it’s all fun and games until you start taking it too seriously.

 

So my closing thought: if you can see the fun in Strava and use it as an inspirational training tool I would strongly recommend it. But, if you’re a hyper-competitive analytical enthusiast, maybe take it with a grain of salt or just stay away.

PS You’re welcome Karen, your segment is safe… for now.

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