Friday, September 12, 2014

Strava - Part 1 - What and Why?

Executive Summary: Strava is great for social networking in running, very easy to use and has an iPhone app.  Get out there and create an account then be friends with me :)

In my post yesterday - Veloviewer Usage got me to wonder how many are using Strava  in general and what it is good for, I thought I would share my own experience with it and why / how I started using it.

When I first started running I used Nike Plus because I had some friends and family on it and also it worked on my iPhone, etc...  It did some nice summarizing of data but nothing too impressive.  It did speak a bit to my competitive nature by showing a leader board on miles per week / month.

After the first few months I started playing around with a lot of different tools and that caused me to use an app on my cell called iSmoothRun  (great app and I would still use it but I invested in a Garmin) - it was able to record the run and then upload to all different services.  I used that and signed up for Strava.

As most of you that use Strava know, it is super easy to get sucked into the segments (I will go through that stuff in a bit), and leader boards on a weekly basis.  I think that is around the same time as I met the guy that holds then (May 2013) and still holds most of the Quicksilver KoMs. Now enough history - I started doing my distance running - maybe not very fast but at least further with the help of John and all the friends I have met through Quicksilver Running Club or on Strava.

Why should you get on Strava?  Even if you aren't planning on running long distances or fast, it is motivating to be able to find some routes that you run often and notice the segments that are on your route and work on improving your rankings.  Segments are just like they sound, they are portions of your overall run that have their own leaderboard.  And that drives some competition just internally I think it is neat to go back to run some segments hard and try to climb the leaderboard (knowing at least full well for me I won't get the top place but I can improve at the very least).  (They have hiking / biking / walking / workout / etc... as well)

Here is an example of a run.

A couple of things you can see here obviously - The run overall - Distance / "Moving time" / Pace / Suffer Score (heart rate calculations - I didn't feel like it was that extreme)  

Then under it is elevation (amount of climb) / calculated calorie expenditure / elapsed time (note the 8 min gap - I got lost and had to look at a map on my phone :) ).

You can see the map and the "splits (just mile increments)" and the elevation profile below (seeing where I stopped for a bit to look at the trail markers first time I ran there)..

I have also linked my instagram account to my run so it will pick up any pictures I take and their location (see the little picture on the map).  You can also "kudo" people on their runs as well as comment on them.  Great for a social drive by.

On the next couple of screens (you can click the items under overview on the left hand side);
  • Pace Analysis - look of the elevation profile and fastest and slowest times you did.
  • Pace Distribution- See how much time you spent in various zones based on your top speed - In my opinion less useful since my fastest I used a half marathon on the road, this has nothing to do with how fast I hit the trails.
  • Heart Rate - How much time you spent in various zones that you see some of the more serious runners use (e.g. Zone 2 or z2 is tempo pace / z5 is Anaerobic).

I think the fun part is the segments though;

You will see a list of the segments and you can mouse over them to see which segment is which on your run (it will highlight them blue and also show on the elevation profile to the right).  If you click on them they will show a quick view of the leaderboard and where you stand on it;

As you can see above - I am currently 20 out of 52 people that have run that segment and I would have to run it over 8 minutes faster to get the Course Record (CR) (that isn't happening).  If you start clicking the buttons under you can see the whole leaderboard and your efforts (a good example here is I have done quicksilver now for over a year some of those segments I have attempted 30 or 40 times).  You can compare you against others I will show below because this is a relatively new feature that shows in real time if you both started that segment, graphically where would you be as that run played out.  As you can see I stopped it about 13 minutes into the run and the was 3:43 ahead of me on the map and going about 2 minutes a mile faster than I was...  (sigh)

So much to explore in this tool let alone Veloviewer.  My bottom line as I finish showing this and I will write something up more about joining a club or making friends, also adding some level of security (home zone / locked profile), is just sign up and start using it.  They have a great iPhone app that my friend Scott Dunlap reviewed recently here, and you can download all your runs if you ever want to put them into some other running ecosystem.  Here is my profile so you can add me as a friend as well - Jeff's Strava Profile.

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