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Nov 26, 2013

Strava review


Over the last couple months, I've been connecting my workouts with the Strava website.  Strava lets you track your activities for running and cycling as well as many other active sports.  This can be accomplished through your phone or compatible GPS device.  In my case, I use a Garmin 310xt.  Once it's set up to transfer activity from Garmin to Strava, it does it automatically so you don't have to do anything manual which is a really nice feature.

After you have your profile set up, you can transfer your Garmin data over.  Frankly, I've had a very difficult time transferring over everything from Garmin and I still don't have it all transferred but I've got 2013 in there now.  Strava/Garmin need to find a much easier way to get all activity transferred over and I still continue to use Garmin primarily for tracking since I have years of data in Garmin Connect.  You also have the ability to input information into Strava manually for things the GPS watch are not used for or if you don't have a GPS or phone app.

Below is a view of the activity feed which is what you will see after you set things up and have some activity in your Strava account.

The above not only shows your activity but also shows challenges that you joined and/or completed which I'll explain later.

The calendar view shows a summary of the activity.  In this case, for 2013, but you can also click on the month and then the activity to dig more into specific results.  The results are pretty accurate - Garmin showed 1,482 miles for 2013 so far.  They are not exact and I believe the main reason is that I have some activity input into Garmin manually and those miles will not transfer to Strava unless you also manually enter them.  Same goes for my Yoga and Weights workouts - because I enter them manually, they will not move to Strava automatically.

Anything that shows the Strava symbol is a premium option which runs $59 per year so I cannot comment on these items since this is the free version.  I will say that I could understand paying for a premium account but not sure I'd want to spend $59 every year but would be willing to pay it one time.


As you can see below, as you get into more detail with your activity, Strava has included my activities below.  It shows the type of activity, the day, the date, title, time spent, distance, elevation and the ability to edit and share it.  It can be shared through Facebook, Twitter, email or you can even embed an activity into a blog post.  The chart below is just a small portion of what I've included in Strava.
Click to enlarge
Here's an example of a run that I've embedded in this post to give you an idea how this works:



In regards to your activity, below a detail of when I ran the Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis.  It give you the summary of your race as well as any top results compared to what you already have in Strava.  These are actually not my best results since I only have 2013 in Strava but you get the point.  It's a nice way to track how you've done with past results.

Further, you can see your splits with elevation on every split.  You can't see it here but you can scroll through all 26 splits.  In addition, the chart at the bottom shows you your pacing.  If you read my marathon review, you'll see that I blew up at mile 18 so my paces get slower as I ran/walked the rest of the marathon.
One of the unique things about Strava is segments.  While I have not messed with them that much, you can see below there are certain segments that other users have created to compete against other runners.  Since I don't know Indy that well, I don't know the significance of these segments but its a nice way to compare certain areas of the race with other runners.  This would especially be great for races and also areas where you and many others train frequently.  Strava also picks up other runners where you've run and can add those runners as friends.
You can also search out segments in your area.  Here's an area by Stony Creek where I train, as well as many other runners, train all the time.  This is a great tool to compare yourself against other runners in your area.
Segments at Stony Creek
Here's a training run I did on Saturday on the Paint Creek Trail as another example.  It's got all my splits, paces, elevation and map all in one easy to read chart.

I also looked to see what segments were on this since so many runners run on this trail.  This is what I found.  I got a PR on the Wagon Wheel Lane Climb. 
My run Saturday showing a segment I also did.
If you click on the Wagon Wheel Lane Climb segment, it will bring up specifics on the segment and you can see how you compared to others that also ran this.  I also want to note that all this is done automatically.  You don't need to join a segment.  If you run a segment that a user has created, it will automatically be included on your run/cycle.  You can also create your own segments too.
Here's the detail on that segment.  I was 24th of 59 on speed for this segment
Your friends can also comment on your workout, or give you Kudos as well and you will have a notification of it:
Of course, the more friends you have on Stava, the more likely you will get comments and Kudos so it does have a social aspect to it as well as keeping track of your training.  You can search out friend on the site as well:
One of the cool things you can do on Strava is compete against friends and anyone on Strava in these Challenges.  You go into the challenges page and click on the one you want to join.  Here's an example of the challenges below.  In this case here, I've joined two of the challenges below.
Join challenges
As you can see above, I did a 10k challenge that was to be done within a one week time period between 11/18 and 11/24.  Here's some more details on that challenge and what you needed to do in order to obtain your digital finishers badge.
A specific challenge and details of what you need to do.
It also shows the ranking I placed on the challenge as well.  In this case, I just ran a 10 miler on Saturday and this was then included as part of the challenge.  Of course, had I wanted to place higher in the challenge, I would have gone out and run the fastest 10k I could or perhaps tried it again during the week.

I'm not really sure why it shows 4 attempts other than I had four other runs that week and all were under a 10k distance.  Of course, they were not attempts but just my regular training runs so it seems odd that they would include them as attempts.  Regardless, it's fun to see how you rank and who doesn't like receiving a digital finishers badge?  It gets included in your profile on Strava.
Challenge ranking
Here's the badge I earned.  Pretty fun, I think.
Digital badge
Strava usually has several challenges you can choose to join so you don't need to worry about having some motivation to keep you going all year.

Strava also has the ability to show you a summary of all your statistics on your events.  It will show you recent achievements, a graph of weekly or monthly activity for time, distance or elevation gain.  It also shows you averages for the last four weeks and best efforts as well as year to date information and all information.  It's a nice snapshot of what you've done.
Profile summary with statistics - click to enlarge
Overall, I think the Strava program is not only useful but fun and will be more fun as I include more people into it so there are more friends to comment.  The above information is just the free version, which does give you quite a bit for a free program.  It looks like you can get much more control on it if you want to get the paid version.  My thought is there are so many training activity programs out there, I'm not sure I'd want to pay for it.  I think if they offered a free month to try it, more users might go with the premium but otherwise the free version, in my oppinion, works for 95% of users.  I'm probably one that tracks their information more than most too.

I can certainly see several benefits to using Strava and it does seem much more detailed than other programs out there.  Perhaps I'm in the minority but I actually like the Garmin Connect application and felt it's worked well for my purposes but it not very social and you cannot compare to others or do challenges.  Strava is one more way to stay connected with like minded athletes and have some fun with challenges and segments.  If you are looking for a way to be social and also keep track of your training, it's a good choice to try.

Interested in learning more, sign up for a free Strava account HERE and try it for yourself.

Have you tried Strava?  What do you think about it?

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!




Note:  I was not compensated in any way for this review.  Strava asked for my honest opinion and this is the post that resulted from that.  All opinions in this post are my own.

3 comments:

  1. Would love to try the sight, but I can't get on at the office, well not properly, so I can see what it looks like, yes I could try it on my phone, but who do I get my real running data off my Garmin then?

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  2. Just curious, were you just reviewing Strava for them, or thinking about switching? Other than being considerably more social, it looks very similar to Garmin Connect. And I agree with you, Garmin Connect has been a good tool for my purposes, other than their regularly scheduled outages. We actually have a friend who works for Garmin here in KC and we're always kidding her about it.

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    Replies
    1. Their PR company asked me to look at it but not for anything. I was curious to see if it's something I would use more to switch to. I like the social and challenges. It does not provide really more data than Garmin but the paid version does(which I probably won't consider). I'm also on DailyMile too so something has to give. It seems easier to find people on Dailymile than Strava but maybe because I know more people that use it. I think that Garmin could use some upgrades to its system and more people would use it but either way, both Strava and Garmin do what I need. I also like that you can pull reports for Garmin - like all runs over 20 for example to compare how you have done over the years. I don't see a way to do that on Strava.

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