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What’s the deal with Strava?

Strava heat map of Vancouver
Strava heat map of Vancouver

GPS tracking seems to be pretty much accepted as a thing that runners do. Gone are the days of math. Just hit start when you start to run and hit stop when you stop. But now we’re faced with more pressing concerns, such as where to store these endless streams of fitness information.

You can use a seemingly bottomless App Store worth of trackers for keeping yourself in order, but one that seemed to elude to interest of runners, until recently, is Strava.

Quickly becoming more common in the running community, Strava is the go-to route and activity tracking app in the cycling world. Around since 2009, it’s built a very healthy community of all abilities around it, from the occasional rider right up to the pros.

The cycling community, as a very general rule, is a bit more competitive than its running counterpart, something that really seemed to be in part behind why that community was quicker to adopt Strava. Strava pits everyone against each other in a fun and accessible way. It does this by offering goals to all its users, with profile badges and rewards for completing them. Goals can be anything from riding or running a certain number of kilometres in a given time span to climbing a certain altitude on a given day. Most of the challenges are cycling-based, but more and more there are running challenges popping up as well. For completing them. A lot of the cycling challenges offer users a chance to purchase a limited-edition jersey or piece of gear, or offer discounts on other purchases. Most of the running challenges at this point aren’t quite as enticing. but again they’re getting better.

The other unique aspect of Strava is its ranking system. The runs you upload are ranked against others users to see where you fall within your friend group, your local area, and the Strava community as a whole. The app breaks different sections of trail and road into “segments,” smaller sections that are kept track of as mini challenges to see how you measure up against others who have run it. For better or worse, this can turn even easy days into challenges.

Strava isn’t the answer for every runner looking for the right app to track their progress, but for those coming from the cycling world, or with a slightly more competitive bend to them, it may be just what they’re looking, and there’s no better time to adopt. The community is picking up steam and the company is taking notice, offering more each month for their runners.