The Strava app has changed my attitude about using a phone app for workouts. A cyclist friend showed the Strava app to me a few weeks ago and told me I would love it. I was skeptical, but he was right. I only have the free version, but it has so many features. And I keep accidentally discovering more ways to be inspired by it.
One thing it does that I appreciate is that it lets you categorize your workouts, so you can always be comparing apples to apples. There is an option for choosing the activity that you will do most often, so that is the default mode, but it is easily changed for any given workout.
The app also doesn’t require downloading any data to the computer to see results, although you can see things like elevation charts and larger maps on your online account. Right after an activity, you can see helpful and encouraging things like mile split times. There is also a list under that that tells how various distances compare to previous efforts.
One of the features that got me hooked was the ability to compare certain timed sections that other people have recorded. To be honest, I am not completely sure how someone sets one of these up yet, but even in my relatively small town, there are a number of segments where you can compare your results to others with Strava who have timed themselves over the route. It doesn’t have to be the same route all the way, it just has to include the bit that has been designated a times zone. You don’t have to stop and start the app at the zones, or even be aware of them. It will still give you the stats on how you did compared with any other Strava athlete who has recorded while traveling the specific zone. It is a friendly, time warp competition.
Since the app is on the phone that I am usually already carrying, there is no extra equipment involved or remember to keep charged. However, the one major drawback is not being able to check progress easily while moving. I suppose there may be some way to mount the phone on the bike handles, but even then the information would be hard to read (or glance at) as easily as a watch. For that reason, I still wear my Garmin Forerunner watch, especially if I there is any chance of needing to alter my route. I really like to know how far I am going and when I should turn around.
If you want to, you can connect with other users via the app, giving them fun encouragements and comments. Workouts can also be posted to most of the normal social media. I only do this once in a while, but I am inspired when I see the cycling workouts of another friend on facebook, so I’m glad she posts them a lot.
I have just noticed for the first time that there are special challenges to participate in via the app. With each “event” there is a list of who has the best times or distances, depending on the focus. The number of people signed up is given.
I am at the point where I might actually read some of the tutorial information I have received in the few emails Strava has sent me, but I haven’t had to read anything to begin to enjoy the app. Still, since I have liked all the features I have found so far, it might be fun to learn how to take advantage of it more. Next thing you know, I’ll be creating “race zones” everywhere I travel, around home or abroad, and we’ll see who shows up on the leader board!