I woke up this morning, rolled over and as nearly everyone does on a morning - checked my phone. However instead of seeing a couple of texts or tweets my screen was filled with Strava notifications. This got me thinking about whether I am addicted to Strava and whether we all spend too much time worrying about our stats and what other people get up to during their workouts. If we step back and look at the beginning of any active day then you would head out of the door with your bike or shoes, pause for a moment then set off on your activity of choice merrily aware that the GPS is running in the background. Everyone sets off with the intention of forgetting the app is running but secretly in the back of most peoples minds the little niggle is there that Strava is on. Having Strava on all the time has had quite the impact on how people view sport now.
If you're out alone on a ride it's all too easy to sacrifice that nice steady ride in the sun for your favourite segment as you seek to set a new personal best or beat your friends time instead of enjoying the ride and the views you take in. Similarly when in a club ride people often forget they are with other people and start to battle it out for segment times and bragging rights for that day.
When you get to the all important coffee and cake stop the Strava addiction continues as everyone starts to look down at their device and compare speed, elevation and various other bits of data in a bid to be better than the rider next to them. Entire cafe stops can focus purely around Strava and people forget to appreciate the coffee or chat about other social events in their lives.
Once you're back out of the cafe the niggle in the mind springs back to life and as soon as you click record its important to keep going and keep your average high because once you're home later the real Strava addiction begins. You get home from your ride and in a sweaty panic seek out the nearest wifi enabled laptop and hurriedly upload your ride - It's very important to upload before everyone else and get all the KOM's!
Once uploaded the real addiction begins to show and you settle in with a recovery drink and scan down your ride checking every segment to see where you place on the leaderboard, questioning whether you could have gone faster and taken the KOM off the unknown rider that haunts all the local leaderboards around you. You check your average speed to make sure you were just that tiny bit faster than your friend and you definitely make a new segment to make sure you're KOM.
However the final part of everyones Strava addiction has to the be the Kudos. There is nothing more rewarding to a rider after a hard day in the saddle than their friends giving them a virtual pat on the back for their ride; more kudos usually means a more extreme ride. People love to hand out kudos and people love receiving kudos so everyone wins.
As day to turns to night you pick up the notifications on your phone for the kudos received and the cycle continues.
All of this can be pretty damaging to people riding as they try to out ride their friends around them by racking up the most miles or the most climbing every week and it can become tiring or you could overtrain without realising. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and ignore Strava for once - keep it running but forget it's there and enjoy your surroundings.
I'm a self professed Strava wanker and on the occasions I do chose to ignore it I often discover views that I would otherwise miss whilst i'm smashing it down a road to try and win a segment. I love Strava to pieces and wouldn't stop using it but sometimes it's nice to exercise without the pressure and niggles of online activity. I find it hard to put my Strava away but will try to do it once a week and enjoy what's around me more.
Without further ado...