I began tracking my biking, hiking, and walking efforts with the Strava app on Christmas day back in 2011. According to their website, “Strava lets you track your rides and runs via your iPhone, Android or dedicated GPS device and helps you analyze and quantify your performance. Strava provides motivation and camaraderie”.
I had been using the free version of the program until Dec. 31 of this year when I decided to pony up the $59 a year Premium fee and avail myself of the additional features at that level. Three Premium features that I have used so far include GPX file downloads and transfers. I have not yet downloaded any other hiker or rider routes to my Garmin eTrex 30 GPS, but plan to do so in the next few months.
I also sometimes strap on my Garmin chest monitor and record my heart rate, which converts to a Suffer Score, which quantifies my suffering and allows me to visualize exactly how hard I have worked on a particular hike or ride. My most intense workouts yield a a special class of Points in the Red. My Polish suffering gene interfaces well with the Suffer Score.
But the one feature that convinced me to pay for the use of the program is the ability for me to set goals and monitor them. On Jan. 1 of this year, I took the advice of my son Lincoln, where I set a goal of 1 hour a day of either biking, walking, or backpacking for the whole year. Strava allows you to set goals for distance or time.
I religiously track my progress week over week. Simply put, I need 7 hours a week to stay on track. I often take a day off between particularly hard workouts to recover, and things come up so it’s good to have some way of sticking with the program, even it it is an hour a day. I often put in a longer ride or hike a few hours at the end of any week where I was slacking in the beginning.
Here’s one of the visual presentations that has encapsulated my progress from Jan. 1, 2015 up to today:
As a psychologist, I am awed by the power of the reinforcement of this cart- to me. To others, it may mean nothing. This is the real data deal.
What is also satisfying about the program is the ability of Strava to aggregate data and present it in a manner that compares not only hourly progress, but progress within repeated walks, hikes, or rides.
There are stories about individuals that become obsessed about moving up the rankings for speed on segments of popular rides. For instance, there is a Strava segment of the climb up Moody Mountain Road, which is just 1.2 miles from my doorway. There are 87 people that have recorded their effort climbing this 1.8 mile section of 4% grade of 383 feet of elevation gain. All are ranked in order, and there is one King of the Mountain on the top of the list. I am not motivated by moving up the list, but I am motivated by knowing that I am improving on my own performance.
For 2015, I am shocked and pleased to see that I have broken 67 personal records, when I compare my times since Dec. 2011. Most of the time, I feel that I do pretty well out there, but there are days like yesterday when I nearly bonked on a ride that we call The Bog From The Pit. Here’s that data:
But I didn’t totally crash and burn out there yesterday. If I had lost my mojo and landed on the ground in a weeping heap, then either Rigger or Kevin would have picked me up and helped me out. I really enjoy riding with these Bubbas in the Woods, a group of Midcoast Maine faithful who have included me in their thrice weekly mountain bikes rides for close to 30 years now.
The big picture is what Strava offers me, and I like it.
Between Strava and The Bubbas, I am still moving along.