Millions of runners use Strava on a regular – often daily – basis. You might hear runners making a beep from their Garmin watch, or pressing a button on their phone, when they start each run.
You may have heard ‘do you want to follow me on Strava?’. Strava means ‘strive’ in Sweden, by the way.
The name of the app is no mistake. By definition, ‘to stride’ means to take long, decisive, purposeful steps in a specific direction. Using Strava can help you achieve your running goals.
All the hype, discussion and consistent use demands an answer to the question:
What is Strava?
First released in 2009, Strava is a mobile app (and a website) runners – and other athletes like cyclists, swimmers, skiers, walkers – can track and monitor their activities using GPS signal.
Like a Satnav, it tracks your whereabouts, maps your running route, then provides you wish useful data like: the time spent running, average pace, distance covered, your route, elevation (high or low) and performance comparisons for the same route run at different times.
Does it cost?
Strava is free to download and use. Over a million use the free version on a regular basis. The free version gives you access to the standard data collecting features (mentioned above).
Those impressed with Strava often purchase the premium version which offers personalised coaching, live feedback on performance, further advanced analysis and useful perks like money off insurance and free audiobook trials. All this for £5.99 a month or £45.99 a year
Why use Strava?
Strava’s tracking system makes it incredibly easy to track and then monitor your progress. Rather than guessing how far, quick and long you run for, Strava provides pinpoint accuracy. You’ll have access to correct results for tracking your progress.
Having accurate data means you can properly plan weekly mileage, target a desired average speed, note down time spent running and use elevation data to plan hill workouts.
The data allows you to properly know whether you’re on track to achieving your goal or not. For instance, you could be running 10 miles a week when you have a target of 20 miles a week and not know about it. However, Strava can tell you how many miles you’ve run in a given week, so you can amend your training schedule.
How do you track progress using Strava?
At the start of each run you: load the app up, select the ‘record’ tab at the bottom-centre of the screen, choose ‘run’ as your sport, press ‘start’, go for your run, then click ‘finish’ when you’re done.
You then can ‘title your walk’, add pictures of your run, select the type (long run, workout, race and a brief description.
Stats: Daily, Weekly, this Year, and all time
Each time you finish and save an activity, Strava records your progress and links it to your profile.
For daily stats you can click on ‘activities’ for an individual breakdown of a specific run (distance, time, elevation gain, average speed, segments ran).
At a general profile glance, you’ll find weekly data like the number of miles ran, time spent running and the elevation covered in feet.
Clicking ‘statistics’ gives you insight to your progress so far this year. Data includes: Average runs a week, average time spent running a week, average distance covered a week, runs completed, time spent running, distance covered and elevation gain.
At the bottom of ‘statistics’ is your all time runs completed and distance covered.
Put the data into your running journal
Strava data can be quickly transferred into your physical running journal to keep you motivated towards your vision and goal for yourself, whilst running.
Take part in challenges
Strava offers a series of in app challenges you can join. The challenges are demanding, engaging and incredibly fun to get involved with.
Whatever your reason for running – fun, fitness, competition – and your current level, there’s a Strava challenge for you.
The challenges add a nice layer to your training. You something to actively work towards, and you can compete with friends and other Strava runners for extra fun.
Examples include ‘run 200km this month’, ‘run a half marathon this month’, ‘run a 10k this month’ or ‘climb 2500m this month’.
Once you join a challenge, Strava will track and monitor your progress against the challenges which you can view at any time. When the challenge is complete, you’ll receive a virtual trophy to mark your achievement and receive a place in the challenges leader board where you can compare your performance with other Strava runners.
Strava give users the cool ability to make ‘segments’. A segment is a specific section of road, trail or land, which is named and added to the public Strava domain for fellow runners to compete for the best time.
Think of a segment like a Top Gear time trial. The same stretch covered by multiple runners. The fastest is placed at the top of the leader board.
Strava will automatically start recording your performance once you enter a segment area, then upload it to the leader board afterwards. To find your performance in relation to other users, click on the data from a run and scroll to the bottom. Click a segment to see how you fare against those who’ve run the segment in the past.
Connect with other runners
Strava is a highly sociable app and website. You can connect with friends, family and runners in your local area by ‘following’ them. Once you follow someone, they get a notification and usually return the follow.
Like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Strava features a ‘news feed’ function which sends you updates of those you are followings runs. You can see the route they took, time taken, elevation gain and the distance covered.
Similar to ‘liking’ someone’s post, you can give your friends ‘kudos’. Kudos means complimenting, praising and honouring someone for an achievement. Kudos is an extremely positive way of giving fellow runners support, congratulating them for their hard work. When you’re exhausted after a long run, it’s nice to receive a Kudos from your cousins or running club members. A little Kudos can go a long way!
Connect your running watch to Strava
Many runners get tired of carrying their smart phone around to track Strava data. Instead, opt for a Strava friendly running watch.
Running watches are convenient and valuable for Strava runners. Most watches fit snuggly round the wrist, so you almost forget about them. They feature an accurate heart rate monitor, have an accelerometer to measure running stats, and most importantly connect to Strava.
Data from your runs can be uploaded to Strava from your running watch making life easier.
Using a running watch mixes slick design, health and performance technology, with the polished, sociable running app that is Strava.
What if you don’t have a running watch?
You don’t need one to use Strava. You can download it onto your phone. If you want to get your own running watch (highly recommended), check out the following brands: