Tracking my progress with Strava

Disclaimer: I received a Strava Summit account in exchange for a review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.

I’m a huge fan of tracking my workouts. I’d love to be one of those people who keeps a great training notebook, logging every workout in every detail. I’m not great at that. Every time I’ve tried, I end up not having the book with me when I want to write something down.

I tried the spreadsheet formula. That didn’t work either. I wasn’t motivated to get it done.

Enter the internet. By tracking my workouts online, I could enter data from anywhere, and if I wanted, I could make that information sharable so that my friends and training partners could see my workouts. It helped keep me accountable to myself and to others.

Strava is simple

I started using Strava in 2015. What I love the most about Strava is how incredibly easy it is to use. You can track all sorts of workouts – standard running, biking, and swimming, but you can also track other workouts – walking, yoga, weights, whatever you want. And you can enter as much or as little data as you want. Maybe you just want to log that you lifted weights for 30 minutes. You don’t need to put in the reps or the weights, just log that 30 minute data. Maybe you went on a 20 minute walk. You don’t know how far you went, but you want to log the walk. Other sites would push you to enter the pace or the distance. Strava lets you enter what you want.

Of course, I love data, so I love that I can import directly from my Garmin or from Zwift. And the best part is that I don’t have to actually do anything. Once I got direct import setup, when I finish a workout, it ports into Strava where I can check it out and analyze the info. I can customize it if I want by adding photos or comments, but I don’t have to.

I use also Strava to track the mileage on my shoes, which is an awesome feature, especially for someone who doesn’t run a steady number of miles every month. I set my current pair of shoes as my default, and Strava logs each run on those shoes (which I can go in and change if I wore something different). It helps me figure out when I need to think about breaking in a new pair.

Share what you want

Strava lets you be as public or as private as you want. You can put all of your information out there for anyone to see, you can have a purely private account, or you can be private and add friends who can see your workouts.

Personally, even though I’m a pretty open book, I do have my account set for friends only, just for safety. If you want to follow me, please feel free to request, and if you appear to not be an axe murderer, I’ll probably friend you back. And if you are an axe murderer, if you could just put that in your profile info to make it easier for me, I’d appreciate it.

One thing I do very much appreciate are the privacy zones. When you do a workout and track your distance by GPS, often times, you’re starting pretty close to your home or your work, and maybe you’re just not comfortable putting your exact location out there. Strava lets you set privacy zones up to 5/8ths of a mile from a specific address, and then any activity inside that zone won’t be shown.

Tracking Improvements

When I agreed to do a review of Strava, I figured it would be very easy. After all, I’ve been using Strava for four years to track my running, biking, and swimming. It’s what I use to track my annual mileage goals.

Then I crashed my bike and was unable to train. No training = no workouts logged. (And the annual mileage goals also went out the window.)

But now that I’m getting back into the swing of things, I’m starting to track again. It’s certainly slow going (and I’m still not back in the pool or riding outdoors) but what I’m loving is being able to see the progress that I’m making. Sure, my speed and distance aren’t what they were, but I’m doing better than I was two weeks ago.

I can also look back and see where I was after recovering from surgery last year, which gives me an idea of how long this rebuild may take. And I can look further back and see that hey, maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

Strava tracks your best efforts, and it’s always a great feeling to log on after a bad run and see that hey, you just did your third best 5k effort as part of that run, or you ran a certain segment of your running route the fastest you’ve ever run it. I find these stats especially helpful on days where I feel like I’m not making progress. Maybe I don’t feel faster, but I’m certainly getting faster.

And the best part of all of this tracking is that in a few months, I’ll be able to look back to where I was and be proud of how far I’ve come. It’s so easy to look back at a previous race result and think “Oh, man, look at all the speed I’ve lost,” but by tracking my short little runs as I’m recovering, I have something solid to look back on as I track my recovery.

And you had better believe that when I finally get my bike back outside, I’m going to be shouting it from the rooftops and I expect all the Strava accolades to be coming my way.

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