Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why I don't use Strava

My apologies to the 16 of you who follow me on Strava.
Sure, everyone stalks each other on social media. Guilty! Studies have shown that Facebook causes people to be dissatisfied with their lives because we constantly compare ourselves to others, and we forget to live our own, personal existence. I find myself somewhat jealous of other people's vacations, pets, and that they have time to run in the middle of the day when I'm stuck at work. Maybe people feel the same way about me.

I do use Facebook and this blog to keep myself 'honest' about what I'm doing with my time. I like to get feedback about my activities, what I could be doing better, and am glad to start a conversation even if it turns into a disagreement. But, I'm not telling you about every aspect of my training, or my life, for that matter. My Facebook content is censored. Are you shocked? You really shouldn't be.

You  might have heard about my hatred for sites like Pinterest (and magazines, and Hollywood, for that matter). The only thing Pinterest is useful for is understanding that people, for the most part, are clones. We all like the same things. Re-pinning something with 10,000 pins is not necessarily a good thing. Pinterest is also a virtual world of what we could have, instead of what we really are. Most of the hairstyles on there don't work, and so much of the other stuff looks like it came from a catalog. It's a fantasy. It's a lot like #photostockgirl. She is a model for what we all want to be, but she isn't you. You are just fine the way you are. So am I.

Recently, I ran into someone who had asked if I have been riding my bike. I explained that I have been riding my bike - quite a bit actually. To which she said,  "Oh I just haven't seen you on Strava."

"I don't use Strava."

Strava is an app that records rides and runs like a GPS device. It collects pace, miles per hour, route, distance, and elevation. On top of that, it's also a social media app that allows the athlete to share this information with other users. People can "follow" you, or you can "follow" them like a Twitter or any other social media account. When one logs into their Strava feed, they can compare a workout to others in the Strava social network. They can also see who was on the same ride, and users can leave comments for each other. The course is broken into segments, and the app records each users best time on each segment and applies a personal record when a faster time is recorded. Also, users can compare themselves to all other users on each segment. That's where the competition comes in: the fastest athlete on the segment is named "King of the Hill."

If you use your Garmin once a year, and improve dramatically over that year - you will break a lot of personal records. Note: x 56!
There is this overwhelming peer pressure in the cycling and triathlon community to put everything on Strava. True, I do use Facebook and my blog to make myself accountable to others, but the stuff I don't feel like sharing, doesn't get shared. Strava shares just about everything (at least about riding and running). If Facebook and Pinterest make people feel dissatisfied with life - well, Strava puts it into numbers - which seems to be even worse. Who can I be the best I can be when I'm trying to beat so-and-so's time on such-and-such segment?

I already mentally beat myself up enough already.

I have a Garmin, which I prefer to use over any smart phone app. It's mostly for safety. I want the device right in front of me where I can see it, or have it safely secured to my wrist. Also, I don't want an app to run down my iPhone battery. We know how little time we have without charging these days. I don't want to track an epic bike ride, and not have the ability to call someone for help or look for directions. Yes, I tend to get lost. I track my workouts with my Garmin so I can log into my account and look up my past riding, running, (and now!) swimming history. There are still pieces of the Garmin that I haven't used to their full potential - a la the heart rate monitor. Baby steps.

It's great to see improvement, but I don't need to see what everyone else is doing or compare myself to others. When you use Strava, there is no getting around it unless you set up a private profile. But, Strava is definitely meant to be a social app, not private. You may have asked to follow me on Strava, and I'm certainly not going to reject you. I've also seen some of the awesome rides and runs that you have done, and I DO think you are really awesome. But using it on the daily would not make me feel good about my own goals, and my own efforts. Every time I see another athlete's epic workout on Strava I think to myself, "I could do that."

Or worse, "I'll never amount to anything."

If I start training for someone else, then I will surely be doomed. So, I move forward. Watching my own progress, and training to the best of my abilities. . . Strava-free.

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