It’s a love hate thing | How I came to hate Strava

This love affair is over.

Strava has been on my mind for quite a while. In fact, I’ve had this blog post written for such a long time but have always swayed away from posting it. Every time I think I’m free of it, I go back. I just can’t seem to help myself from pressing that big orange button to record my ride or run. But now – now is the time.

To go back to the beginning, I downloaded Strava in July 2015 for a short review I was doing for Trail Running magazine, comparing running apps. Since then I’ve felt compelled to upload every single activity. It was addictive. I’d sit there and examine how fast or slow I’d gone and compare my data to my friends. This compulsion was bad enough that if I forgot to start the clock I’d feel really quite distressed. If I wanted to stop along the way I would need to make sure that my run or ride was paused – somewhat taking out the joy of the snack I was eating or view I wanted to admire. I certainly did not want to compromise my splits.

I get that segments are there for riders to compete against each other but it encouraged me to push harder than my body wanted to. Yes, I know this is the whole point – but not if you’re doing damage to yourself and not if you’re taking away the joy of the run or ride. I felt huge pressure to not stop, so nobody could examine those slower splits when I uploaded my activity.

Sunday Week 1 ride.jpg

I love exercise; it’s undeniably the best way to keep you going from a mental and physical point of view. I don’t want to go out and smash myself to pieces every time. That’s not enjoyable to me. I’m not a professional athlete and nor do I want to be. I want to ride my bike for the joy of riding my bike so the pressure that Strava was putting on me felt intense. It was taking away that love and joy of just getting out there. I wrote a little about this in my recent post on going slow.

Run with Sarah.jpg

Either way, I don’t want to care what other people think about how I choose to exercise. I don’t want it to ruin my love of going outdoors and being with friends. So, I’ve recently started heading out without my phone or Garmin. No data is being recorded – you can see how little I’ve been putting on it recently in the feature image – and it feels pretty damn good.

I feel free.

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4 Comments

  1. November 9, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    Strava is so much more than a competitive place. It’s a fantastic ride log adding photos and comments. I love looking back on rides from 5 years ago and reliving memories that would otherwise be hard to find quickly. I barely look at the segments on any ride nowadays. Just because your car can do 100mph, you don’t drive fast every day do you 😉 we will miss you. Jack

    • November 9, 2016 / 7:28 pm

      Hey Jack, I totally get that. I really do but it’s hard not to look and compare yourself to others, too. Maybe one day I’ll seriously go back to it but it’s quite a liberating feeling not worrying about what others think when they scroll through your data.

  2. Mark
    November 14, 2016 / 9:36 am

    Hi Hannah – I use it as a ‘fitness Facebook’, at 53 I’m not going to get any KOM or CRs (except on my cross bike routes or on ‘adventurous’ local trails. It is for me a repository of what I have done for example Berlin today, New England (awesome) in the summer and a place to keep up with (and sledge – I’m still a bloke!) my friends and colleagues. I’m doing L2P24 in 2017 like you and look forward to recording that for posterity as well 🙂

    • November 17, 2016 / 8:00 am

      Hey Mark, it is good for that. And it’s a good record of what you’ve done over the year too. Knowing this, it does make me a bit sad to stay away from it. At the moment though, it’s simply very hard to not compare myself to others and I want to teach myself that it’s not everything before I really start using it again. It’s led to me being injured for most of 2016.

      I’ve got my Garmin still for the bigger rides, so I’ve got a record of my rides but I’m just not uploading them to Strava – they’re just for me! On smaller rides I’m going without and it does feel good that I don’t have to validate my efforts for anyone other than me. Give it a go for a couple of rides – it does feel good to not have the pressure!

      Looking forward to L2P24 – should be good!

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