Friday, 8 August 2014

Strava is more addictive than Caffeine! It's a fact.

I have to admit that I am addicted to Strava.  There is something compelling about finding out just how far you can push yourself doing a sport, even if you have no real intention of competing against others.  However, Strava gives you more than that.  It allows you to compete against yourself and others - without the stress of actually getting in group of competitive cyclists (or runners) and risking injury or embarrassment.  I find it both rewarding and motivating (albeit deflating at times) to compare my times for certain segments to other cyclists who have ridden the same routes as me.  My response is usually somewhere between "not bad for an old guy" and "holy crap, they must have been in a car to record that speed up that hill!"

Access to all the information that Strava makes available to you is amazing.  I am not an exercise physiologist or cycling coach (I will try and get one of them to write a blog post for us), but the data on my Strava clearly shows me my progress on hills, sprints, average speed, etc.  For an athlete of any level, there is value in seeing how well you rode today vs. last week, last month, or last year.  Not only to measure your progress, but to see if your overall level of fitness has improved or declined.  In addition, you can give yourself motivation to ride again.  I want to try that segment, or try and beat my time on that hill, see if my buddy out rode me on that sprint segment.  Motivation is undoubtedly the key to fitness for most of us.  Any tool we can use to help get us out there cycling (or running) is priceless.  And perhaps the best thing about Strava is that it's free and that we all have smart phones, and that means we can use this app to make our cycling better.  If you want to add heart rate and other readings, they are there too!  The premium version adds a few bells and whistles which are cool, but not necessary.

Follow Pros like Laurens ten Dam

Track your speed, elevation, etc.

The best screen is the segment comparisons ... compare yourself to other riders.

"Not too bad for an old guy"

The one thing about Strava that scares me a little is the segments that show up where some crazy dude rode 37.8 km/h through a stoller parking lot (or something like that).  When I see I achieved a personal record in a highly congested and busy area, I usually feel shame - even if I was only going 12 km/h.  I don't need to try for the KOM when it may lead to unnecessary loss of life or limb.  Hopefully the crazy dude was riding when the strollers were put away for the night.

If you haven't tried Strava already, put that app on your phone and give it a try.  It turns your cell phone into a Garmin for free!  I have the Garmin too.  Damn, that was a wasted $500 for me.

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