I used a few apps before Strava to do the obvious, recording the basics of my routine glacial running outings. My 2016 Jogging Big Year (note the word “jogging” – I don’t consider myself a runner, I’m a jogger) involves covering 1,600 kms by obsessively doing 10 kms 4 times a week. My goal doesn’t mention speed, vertical ascent, races, anything at all that a club runner might fasten upon. So in theory my app needs are minimal.
Yet from my very first hitout with Strava on my iPhone, I was a convert. Strava is beautifully laid out. It gives me split times every kilometer – I love hearing that reassuring female voice cooing “distance: 3 kilometers; time: 18 minutes 29 seconds; previous kilometer in 6 minutes 10 seconds.” It syncs rapidly and reliably. I can set monthly distance challenges. My annual kms are split up by month and day. I can compare times across my four chosen regular routes. Anyone can establish a segment that other runners can judge themselves against; I’m yet to use this but surely will.
But Strava’s greatest bestowal upon humanity is its socialisation of what in my case is a solitary activity. Runners and cyclists who have never met “follow” each other in Facebook style and receive “kudos” from others. Corny? Potentially yes, but I relish being able to observe each day how other runners (all of them, I repeat all of them, “real runners” faster than me) gobble up their kilometers on path or track. Magically, I feel part of a community. Magically, that community sustains my jogging.
And all of this is done with just the right mixture of joyfulness and commerciality. I pay to use its Premium option . . . I’d pay ten times what I do. Long live Strava.