I hate Strava.
If you’ve listened to any of our podcasts, you would hear me say this about a hundred times.
How can I hate something that is specifically designed with the runner’s best interest at heart?
The thing is, while the app may have been intended to be one of the runners’ best training tools, we have abused all its advantages.
The segments, the clubs, the challenges are strategically set up to make us all feel like a Local Legend.
What happens is that we stop competing with ourselves and start competing with our friends, without even racing.
COVID worked in Strava’s favor, and here’s why – almost everyone took up running, walking, cycling as an excuse to get out of the house during the lockdown.
Where else are you going to track all the miles while also showing off to everyone how fit you’re getting?
All your Facebook friends are tired of your daily watch posts bragging about how productive you are while they binge-watch their favorite series with their hand deep in a bag of Doritos.
I was just as guilty.
It took a lot of self-reflection to step away and leave the title of a local legend behind me. It was a sad day.
But there’s not a day that goes by where I regret it.
It was nice to see what my friends were doing with their time, but it quickly became a comparison trap.
They ran more than me, they ran faster than me, they ran, and they hiked today? Why can’t I be as productive? I’m not doing enough with my time. Am I going to gain the COVID-15?
My recovery runs are so slow compared to them. But now this person commented that my recovery pace is too fast?! It felt like I was jogging!
What the hell am I training for? There isn’t a single race on the horizon, and I’m literally running myself into the ground.
The race quickly became a competition of who could run the most without burning themselves out the quickest.
Thankfully, I got out before I was injured. But there was still some mental damage.
I hate to admit it, but I was checking this app serval times a day, sometimes up to 15-20 times to see what my “friends” were up to.
This app is every runner/cyclist’s glorified Facebook and Instagram in one. Strava has all the best (and worst) parts of everyone’s training all in one place.
Even with lockdown behind us, I still have a lot of evaluating to do regarding my relationship with running.
What I do for my body needs to be what feels good for me. Not doing things that feel good for others and convincing myself that my body can keep up with a training plan that wasn’t intended for me.
My recovery paces may vary from day to day or week to week as my training intensifies.
I shouldn’t feel the need to justify that to anyone why. Some days I don’t want people to know what the heck I’m running.
I judge myself and my runs enough and feel better knowing that there isn’t someone out there sitting behind their phone judging me by a few runs either.
My motto for 2021 is;
“Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes.”
So far, this has really worked out for me.
It’s been about a year since I logged out of Strava and deleted the app for good.
Sometimes I feel guilty for talking so much smack on the app when I know there are quite a few athletes who really enjoy Strava.
I believe these people can look at the app objectively, that the app is just a pile of data from themselves and people they admire, nothing more.
But when you struggle with an addictive personality that latches onto exercise, the app is tough to look at in any way that is not subjective.
If you agree with me, I encourage you to try deleting the app for a few days. I’m still working on my relationship with running.
And if you’re really feeling daring, I challenge you to join me in trying a watch-less run.
Bold, I know.
I figure this is a step in the right direction against the toxic parts of the running culture.
The more we can reflect on our relationship to the sport, we can get back to the root of why we started running in the first place all those years ago.
Just us, the road, an old cozy pair of shorts, but with much more advanced shoes.
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