Meet Strava, the Social Network For Runners You Must Try

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Strava is an activity app that offers GPS tracking, social media activity, and various other training features. Runners can upload data via Bluetooth with their GPS watch or use the app itself to track a run.

Other activities such as cycling, swimming, skiing, hiking, etc. can be uploaded and tracked as well. I joined a few years ago and it has easily become one of my most favorite running tools for (at least!) seven reasons:

1) It keeps you accountable

The social aspect of Strava keeps runners accountable. Whether you are considering skipping a day or skipping a mile, I definitely feel a bit more accountable because I know that other runners follow me.

It doesn’t mean that I put more value to my running because of Strava, but rather, it challenges me to ask a little bit more out of myself.

2) It records everything you do for fitness

I have kept a paper log for a long time. And even though I still dutifully log my miles that way because I’m OCD, I do love the ease of looking back through my training runs on the app.

I can easily see when I’ve had great weeks or months and terrible ones. Sometimes I will go through a rough patch and be able to look at trends because the data is so easy to interpret.

3) It can help you make new friends

I have actually made real-life friends because of Strava. Most of them have come from running the same race with similar finishing times. Some I might have talked to mid-race, some I might have made a connection after the race. However, our following of each other on Strava has led to meetups and connections in the real world.

Screenshot of the Strava app, showing Lauren Fleshman’s latest run.

4) It encourages friendly competition

Regular Strava users are aware of segments and the element of competition surrounding them. Pushing yourself harder on a training run or race to “win” a segment is arguably silly, but those little pushes can make you a better runner.

I frequently see workouts or training runs that inspire me to dig a little deeper and run a little faster or longer.

5) It helps you find new routes to run

Local runners are always showing me new routes that I never knew about. I often went to the same spots because I wasn’t aware of places I didn’t regularly drive by. Strava also has helped me find popular spots while traveling as their heat maps show routes that are heavily uploaded.

Another screenshot of Strava, from its Explore tab.

6) It helps you track shoe/gear use

When I had just one pair of shoes in the rotation, it was quite easy to keep track of their mileage. However, as I started rotating multiple pairs, Strava helped me figure out which shoes had how many miles.

Sometimes I would vastly underestimate how many more miles I could get on a pair of shoes and this seemingly uninteresting feature has become quite useful.

7) It offers up new challenges you hadn’t thought of

Each month, Strava has multiple challenges that users can enter for “badges”. They are simply icons that can be added to your profile, but the challenges are a fun way to rack up miles and elevation throughout the month.

Every once in awhile, they offer and tie-in with a brand where runners can complete a challenge for free gear. I actually received a free pair of shoes from New Balance for running a negative split marathon during a challenge last fall.

Carissa Liebowitz has run the Boston Marathon as well as dozens of marathons and half marathons. You can follow her running adventures on StravaInstagram and her blog.

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