The One about Strava

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I enjoy running.  I enjoy cycling.  I enjoying working out.

But unlike my younger years of running for football or wrestling in high school or even my earlier years in college, a lot of my running after afterward were done indoors.  Inside the gym, inside the house and then I stopped.

I think as you get older, get into relationship, begin eating out all the time and not pay attention to your slowing metabolism, you gain weight and the more weight and more weight.  Until you are faced with health issues or that look in the mirror and not liking what you let your body become.

After my health debacle back in September, I made the conscious decision to change my lifestyle.  No not diet, a major change in lifestyle in what I eat and what I put in my body and taking responsibility for the poor eating habits I have adopted for a long time.

Since then I have lost nearly 60 pounds, I went down several sizes and I’m really enjoying the fact that I’m much healthier.

And it all began with my Garmin Forerunner and now I use a TomTom Spark to track my daily fitness, I use a Garmin Edge 520 to track myself when I’m riding a bike and I use a Withings Smart Body Analyzer for my scale to track my weight.

As my Garmin information goes into Garmin Connect, Withings to Withings Health Mate and my TomTom Spark info. goes to TomTom MySports Connect, all three be directed to MyFitnessPal.

But when it comes to tracking and social aspect, Garmin and TomTom can be directed to Strava.

But then I became very interested in data.  In the beginning, all I cared about was steps, now I’m more interested in improving my time, looking at my GPS data, looking at my heart rate data and more.

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For those who are wondering about Strava, it is a website and mobile app that is used to track athletic activity via GPS.  The software is popular among cyclists and runners, but can be used to record a variety of fitness data.

What I enjoy about Strava is that it showcases an online social aspect for those interested in fitness.  You can track your friends in Strava, earn badges and be part of forums and also join challenges (which other sites do as well).

But the coolest aspect is the ability to create segments.  You run a route, create a segment and you can search on Strava to see who else are on that segment and you can create a leaderboard.

Strava also offers an interactive global heat map which provides information of where people run and bike.

If you go Strava Premium (which I haven’t yet tried), you get advanced data analysis when it comes to pace analysis, pace distribution, heart rate and power data, personalized coaching, live feedback and more for $59 a year.

While I utilized the free version, the most important aspect that I enjoy is the fact that you can utilize the privacy features (such as cropping start and ending marks), you can see your friends best efforts, see their maps and then download the GPX file, if you plan to run their route.

You can view your Pace, GAP and Heart Rate averages plus data, you can view matched runs and how you compared in previous months. But truthfully, I use it mostly for recording my data and looking at the GPS segments.

For the most part, Strava is for those who crave analytics, data and also comparing themselves with other athletes or their friends.  For those who want to share their activities with friends but also want the ability to crop starting and ending times (other software doesn’t allow this).

And Strava has changed the lives for so many people but there are some who take it to the extreme, a few with tragic outcomes (and this).

But Strava is a tool and those can use it to their benefit and unfortunately, like anything in life, you can use it for good or for bad.

For me, I love the convenience of the app and the online features.  I love how my devices sync to it and I can find my data quickly but knowing there are security features included as well.  I also find it interesting how Strava makes me want to do better, to improve my times and suffice to say, I feel good when I do break my previous record.

Seeing my friends improve and do better inspires me.  Strava inspires me.

Overall, I really enjoy Strava for what it offers for free and for those who use it enough may make some people to upgrade their accounts to Strava Premium.

But if you have the opportunity to give it a try, Strava is worth checking out!