Should I be a STRAVAsshole?

In this issue Dr Mike Posthumus discusses some of the benefits of STRAVA.

 “Dear Dr Mike

These days everyone seems to be on Strava. All my mates use Strava to record their rides and upload it for bragging rights. I’ve always avoided creating an account since I didn’t want to become a STRAVAsshole, sprinting across segments to be able to brag when we get to the coffee shop. Do you think there is benefit in using Strava, or is it best to avoid the urge? 



Dear Ben

Strava has certainly changed the way the majority of us ride and train. You are 100% correct in your observation that it does indeed make certain individuals behave unfavourably, but when used correctly Strava can be an extremely valuable weapon in your training and analysis arsenal. Strava can be an extremely useful training logbook with strong analytical capacity. Here are some pointers as to how to get the most out of Strava and how to avoid some of the pitfalls you have observed:

  • Do not only upload selected rides

This clearly shows that you are only uploading a ride for bragging rights. Uploading every ride you do onto Strava gives you a very good training logbook. Upload all rides, even the slow and recovery rides. It gives you a valuable picture of your training history and performance over time.  When assessing performance, it’s not only your near maximal riding that indicates performance. Submaximal performance during your slow and recovery rides will also yield interesting analysis. For example, progression during slow LSD (Long Slow Distance) rides will show similar faster times over certain segments at the same HR (Heart Rate). Or same times with a lower heart rate will also indicate progression. Even more reason to upload your slow rides.

  • Don’t let Strava predict how you ride

Just because you upload your rides to Strava does not mean that each ride needs to be a proverbial “smashfest”. The correct use of Strava requires restraint and maturity. Everyone knows that you can’t simply go as hard as you can on every ride. Therefore you are not expected to get PR’s (Personal Records) or KOM’s (King of the Mountains) on every ride. Simply name your ride appropriately, so that your followers know that you aren’t slow (if that’s something that you’re worried about), you are just following a plan that will make you faster. A “zone 2 LSD ride” or a “recovery” ride could be names that you could use [Ed: Just don’t name it Slow Ride with Girlfriend/Wife, if she follows you on Strava, it will disrupt the domestic bliss]. Instead of feeling you have to push it, rather be the better man/woman and show your friends how disciplined you are.

  • Use it for motivation

Big brother is watching! You have friends following you daily, use this positively as motivation to get out there and train. No one is accountable for your own fitness except you (or if you have a coach perhaps), but use Strava as motivation and let it help you achieve consistency in your training. Furthermore, if you are scheduled to have a hard or interval training session, nothing stops you from using these days to strive for KOM glory. Just don’t let this be the case in every ride.

  • Analyse your progression

The leader boards on Strava are sometimes best avoided. For most of us, our standing on the leader board is not important. If you want to analyse your progression, don’t look where you are on the leader board. Compare your performance to your previous performances. Using the “my results” function for specific segments are excellent for gauging improvements.

  • Create private segments

When performing intervals (or hill repeats), you seldom ride a complete interval from start to finish. It is extremely useful to create a segment, which captures most of your interval, but don’t go and make your “Ben 4 minute interval” a public segment. The default on Strava is to create private segments. This means that only your own rides will show this segment. When selecting this segment, Strava will show each time if you have ever crossed this segment; this is extremely useful from an analysis perspective to ensure that you are indeed progressing and getting faster.

Now that you are uploading all your rides onto Strava, join the Full Sus Strava Group and connect with other likeminded folk to keep you motivated and training hard!

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