Strava is fundamentally a social competition tool. Step 3 in their own How it Works guide reads: “Analyze and compare your data against yourself, friends, and pros.” That being said, it also offers a host of FREE tools that are excellent for tracking and analyzing your runs, and that’s just the beginning.
Strava users upload their workouts from a GPS watch or use the free Strava app to record in real-time. Either way, the route, timing and statistics of each workout is logged to your account. Strava is built for and works best with running and cycling, but it can be used to track other activities as well.
After you upload a run (or ride), Strava will identify segments (a specific section of a road or trail) where you can compare your time against past efforts and other athletes. You can also participate in Strava challenges, for example, running a certain distance in a month. Segment and challenge ranks are shown on “leaderboards.” I’ll write more about this in a future post.
If you are hesitant about the social sharing aspect of Strava, you can still get your feet wet by creating what I call a “stalking” account. By this, I mean that you will request to follow a few friends, but you never upload your runs. But be aware, once you upload a workout or join a club, you may no longer be in stealthy stalking mode.
Here’s how to get started with Strava
1.) Create an account: Go to the Stava home page and sign up for your free account. It is appropriate to use your real name, or at least your real first and middle names. There are settings to make this anonymous later.
2.) Setup your privacy: Select “Settings” from the pull-down menu under your icon then pick “Privacy” from the left-hand menu. Here you should turn on “Enhanced Privacy Mode.” Click here to read about Strava privacy settings.
If you’re feeling ready to take advantage of Stava’s logging capabilities, here you can check “Make my activities private by default.” You will not benefit from the fun social aspects of Strava, but you can start tracking your activities in private. (Wondering why you should track your runs? Click here to read how keeping a training diary can help you.)
3.) Find and invite your friends: Select “Invite Friends” from the pull-down menu under your icon to connect with your friends via Facebook and/or email. As you have friends to follow, their activities will show up in your “Activity Feed.” You can acknowledge and cheer your friends’ activities by giving them Kudos with the “thumbs up” icon.
Once you see the tools available, you’ll be wanting to log your own runs, too. More on that in the next post. After that, I’ll write about leaderboards, clubs, and finding new places to run with Strava.
In the meanwhile, you are welcome to stalk me on Stava by clicking here.