Strava – Tracking and Competition for cyclists and runners

Strava

If you’re a cyclist or a runner you have to check out Strava.com.  Cycling the same route to work, or same exercise routes can get pretty boring but with Strava you can upload your run and ride information to the web, compare your performance to other rides, or to other riders.

What do you need?

To use Strava you need a GPS device that you can use to record your run or ride.  This could be your smartphone (Android or Apple) for which free apps are available.  Or if you have one a Garmin cycle / run computer, which can track more information such as heart rate.

What does Strava do?

Ride / Run Tracking -

At the most basic level Strava will track your ride or run.  For each activity you get a page with detailed stats, A map of your route, a graph showing elevation profile vs power and speed, and lap tracking (my Garmin registers a lap each mile).  Everytime you go out on the same route you can start to compare your times and see your improvement week by week.

 Competing with Friends -

Tracking yourself is just the start of Strava, where it really comes into its own is its comparison features.  When you look at any other users profile you can quickly see a comparison of the miles, time and elevation that you have each ridden that month, year, or all time.

Segments

So far the above sounds fairly average like any other cycle or run tracker, but Segments is what sets it apart from the rest!  If there is part of a route you like to do regularly, you can set this as a segment, usually this would be a hill climb, but users have set up segments for their whole route, or for a flat sprint.  For this segment you can then see the times of everyone using Strava who has ever ridden it.  There are already many segments on Strava so generally on any ride you will go through one or two, and once you review your ride online you can see a leaderboard for each segment comparing yourself to everyone, friends (people you follow), Men / Women, Age group or weight.  Though be warned some professional runners and cyclists use Strava so it can be tough to make it to King or Queen of the Mountain!

Free or Paid

You get a lot for nothing with Strava, all of the basic features are available for free so I would suggest start off with the free version, see how you get on and if you enjoy it upgrade.  The paid features are

  • Weekly Progress Goals – Set yourself a weekly target mileage to motivate you each week
  • Leaderboard filtering by Age and weight – If you’re fed up of always being beaten by a younger cyclist, this gives you the ability to filter the leader boards by age or weight and see you’re performance against similar users
  • Heart Rate and Suffer Score – With Premium you can set up advanced heart zones to calculate a suffer score, this attempts to quantify how hard exercise is, ride harder or longer for a higher suffer score.
  • Pace and Power Analysis – Compare activity on a regular statement to discover your strengths and weaknesses
  • Export GPX files – If you see a great route that a friend or other Strava users has completed, download it to your GPS device as a GPX file.

Conclusion

Strava is NOT for ride planning, you can’t create custom routes, but it is fantastic for post ride analysis and for motivation.  Use Strava for free to track your rides, compare your performance and become King of the Mountain!

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