The Trouble With Strava

I joined Strava last week, in order to connect with women I know from an online community, and I kind of regret it.

Strava was clearly created with competitive runners in mind. The ones who size each other up at the starting line, who take photos of their feet on their treadmills or their running watches in order to “prove” their best workouts while conveniently leaving out the struggles, who speed up when passed during a training run but slow down later on, who go on every Runner’s World forum thread and make snide comments about people who dare to run marathons against their sage advice (which they don’t follow themselves). There are a lot of really great, fun, inclusive runners out there, but yeesh, there are a lot of smug jerks.

Strava is all about comparing yourself to others. When I click on someone’s profile, it immediately gives me a comparison to that person, pitting my PRs, training times, training miles, YTD miles, everything up against that person. I always lose (except I always win in the “average time/week” category because I am so slow), which is fine, but I don’t see the point of such an in-your-face comparison. It also shows how many people I pass during runs. I don’t actually pass people; I am sometimes overtaken, and I guess I go by people heading in the opposite direction, and walkers, but I’m not passing other runners. Again, I don’t have a problem with this. It just confirms this app was not designed for people like me.

I am the slowest person in my group, too. By a lot. Last week my average pace according to Strava was 16:24 (it eliminates times when I’m not moving so it gives a slightly different pace than other apps), and the next closest person was a minute and a half faster, and the next closest person was 4.5 minutes faster. The average pace of the fastest woman in the group was 9 minutes faster than mine. 9 minutes! I can’t even run a mile in 9 minutes! I don’t think. Maybe one single mile. I am out of my depth! But still #1 in total running time! Go me! I wonder what the fast woman thinks about having someone like me in the group. She probably doesn’t think about it at all.

I’m not quitting the app or anything, and I’m sticking with the group (getting and giving kudos is kind of nice), but I would not recommend it for a runner who prefers to run their own race, rather than getting caught up in how they compare to others.

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