Strava has been a massive part of running for me since I was introduced to it way back in 2013 from a club mate. I’ve been a massive fan of it for several years. It’s been a great training aid and social builder. I’ve made friends through (I think for want of a better term) the social network. As that’s what it’s become, it’s grown into more of a social network for fitness people rather then a training tool. Over the years I’ve helped be a tester for Strava and done press days and more with them. For that I will always be grateful to Ben and others from Strava for those opportunities.
However like anything the platform has its negatives. As the saying goes “If it’s not on Strava, then it didn’t happen!”. In the past I’ve found myself doing runs faster just to keep up with the cool kids. Chasing segments when you should be doing it easy, just for Kudos from other people. Kudos – people giving thumbs up for things. People chasing other peoples Kudos and likes. A run isn’t really a run unless someone else gives it a kudos. The measure of success isn’t necessarily in terms of how you feel you have done, but in terms of how other people feel you have done. Effectively, putting your accomplishment, your feeling of happiness in the hands of other people.
Recovery from running and exercise is what makes you fit, and there ain’t no kudos for recovery. I became a club runner not wanting to run anything slower then 8:00/mi as it looks bad, thankfully these days I’m happy to run whatever and on my easy runs the pace is irrelevant.
I was finding myself running and cycling and uploading things not necessarily for the joy of doing them, or even for the training benefit (this was evident from going into overtraining 2017!)- but rather for more kudos, more comments, and more interaction. I was caught in the strava trap of wanting validation of my fitness from other people. Which is complete nonsense. It’s like mixing your sense of self worth up with what other people think of you – passing control of your own happiness to someone on the other side of a screen.
Over the past year I’ve found myself preferring looking at Training Peaks and found the only validation and feedback that I required was that from my coach. Yet I kept uploading my runs more out of habit etc. I do like to share on my other channels my runs but when I share, I get to limit what data and information I share. Yet on Strava everything I do is open to scrutiny. For example I found myself having to justify why I picked the local trans pennine trail to do some of my recent speed sessions. It was at this point I decided enough was enough and I had to break the negative cycle. It helped knowing I could still share runs via Garmin but my actual data is for the eyes of my coach and I only.
I’m in the middle of downloading my data and moving my old Polar runs over to Garmin via the Strava GPX files then I will be deleting Strava for good. You know what I think it will be good for my mental health going forward and allows me to focus on the important things and not my own vanity.