Running Tech: Huzzah for Strava

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was in a “tech transition” from my old running app. After doing some more testing and running I’ve become hooked on Strava, and here’s why.

Simple

I find Strava really simple to use. Some people will criticize this aspect of things but I just need a simple way to start off a run, get simple mile notifications. When I complete my run, I have a spot to change the title or add a description (I’m starting to keep notes in there) but there is also a section for comments, for those that I share my run with. That’s it. There’s no music integration (like Nike+) but I’m fine with that since I’ve never been much of  a music runner, except for the stuff stuck in my head. There is no automatic entries for weather or temperature at time of run, but I can manually add that kind of stuff if I really want to start tracking it.

Apple Watch Integration

One of the big reasons I was looking for something new was because of the issues I kept having with my Apple Watch and the primary app on the phone. With Strava, I haven’t had any difficulties starting a new run on the watch. In addition, the interface is super simple, compared to what I’ve seen in Runtastic and Nike+. There’s one “stats” view which will give you your distance, current pace, and overall time. Your heart rate can be tracked as well if you have enabled it. Make one swipe and you can easily pause/resume your run, no trying to tap in a top corner on your watch, no having to “force press” to bring up the display. It’s the best experience I’ve had so far with my apple watch pairing.

Data! Data! Data!

With all the talk of simplicity, Strava does an amazing job of aggregating and presenting the data that it does work with. My favorite feature is how Strava automatically tracks your runs based on where you ran. This is a little different than the “routes” feature that you have. For example, I can load up one of my runs…

Strava_Run

…click the “View Matched Runs” link, and get this…

Strava_Matched_Runs

No route creation and linking necessary! I can see how my runs are improving, and easily dive into one of those individual runs if I want to track run splits and the like.

Another interesting thing is Strava has that I haven’t seen elsewhere is a thing called “GAP” pace. GAP pace essentially tells you how fast you’d be running on a flat course vs a hilly course. Given that all of my runs involve some kind of hill, it makes for an interesting measure to translate to, especially with my upcoming RAGNAR relay where a lot of the course is predominantly flat.

Strava_GAP_Pace

Minimal Intrusion on Free Version

Unlike Runtastic, which had two or three banners on the page, and would overlay part of my running map with the “premium upgrade” option, Strava keeps that out of the way. There are certain advanced diagnostics (which I’m definitely interested in) that are available on the Premium plan, but there is a little badge by those menu options and that is it. No overlay on the maps, no hinderance in the mobile app either. Very classy and user friendly.

Social Interaction

I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting to use this feature at all, but Strava does a nice job and building communities and connecting with friends. For example, just browsing through my sidebar I found there was a “Clubs” section. I went in there, typed in my hometown, and found two clubs had been created. They show up in a separate feed, but I can track what other runners are doing near me, hopefully to encourage them and potentially get new routes to run as well. Strava makes it easy to find your friends on Facebook that are using the app, and so I have a small network of people to encourage (and be encouraged) by. There is no live tracking feature like there are in other apps, but at the moment I’m not overly concerned by this one.

Try it Out!

I highly encourage you to give Strava a try. If you’re a cycler or a swimmer, you’ll find the app is optimized for that as well. It’s a simple, well put together app that gives you all the important data points you’ll most likely want into a free app, with a non-intrusive way to support and upgrade your experience later on. I was hooked in one day, it just took me a bit longer to write about it 8^D

What are your 10 bits on the matter? I want to know!

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