I can think back to times when I forgot to press start at the beginning of a ride, or maybe at the end of the coffee stop, and felt like the worst thing in the whole world had just happened. But is it? Why is it that we feel the need to track every single mile we ride/run/swim and share it with the world? I get it, it keeps you accountable and motivated and allows you to track your progress which also being able see what your friends (and random online followers) are doing. And let’s not forget the bragging points. I have been guilty of being secretly looking forward to seeing how many people gave me kudos for a particularly long ride or race I’d done.
But then I fell ill, and my outlook changed. A couple of years back I was uploading my activities to Strava, when I noticed the platform felt the need to continually tell me I was “tracking slower”. Yeah, thanks Strava – you kick me while I’m down when actually the very fact I had got out should have been celebrated. So, I un-synced my Garmin from Strava. Two years on, despite getting better, I’ve not logged on since and I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, I don’t believe I’ll ever go back.
Have I stopped cycling I hear you ask? No… quite to the contrary – (although I must admit I am mainly snatching sessions on the turbo and running currently as I don’t get much time) – I am exercising most days, I still track each session, but it’s all for me. I no longer feel any need or desire to share my data with others, or the Strava algorithms. It is liberating; I feel like I enjoy exercising more. I realised that all I want is the time I spend exercising to be enjoyable, not something that I race home to upload onto my computer.
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And the thing is, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone and it made me wonder, what do others think? Have you ever wondered whether to stop using Strava or am I a lone ranger? Regardless of what camp you’re in, here are 3 reasons why I’m glad I quit Strava:
I’m only accountable to myself
The competitive nature of Strava means that everything you upload is analysed, your performance ranked, even against yourself and there will likely always be an underlying comparison to others, or your past performance. I still track my exercise and fitness levels using a smart watch however, it’s on my terms, for me to see and act upon if I choose to. It has been liberating to remove the pressure of thinking what will others think of me. I know what is good or bad for me and I feel good being the judge of that, not having the technology tell me to speed up!
It’s brought enjoyment back to exercise
If you’ve not exercised without a watch, then I highly recommend doing it. The first few runs and rides I did tech free were invigorating. I felt for once, I could look up and enjoy my surroundings and the countryside where I lived without worrying how far I’d gone or what pace I was at. Rides and runs have become more about catching up with connections in real life, not about pleasing online connections.
I don’t care if I want or need an easy day
We’ve all seen the ride entitled “easy ride with the beginners” or “legs had nothing in them today” – makes one wonder – was it just a slow ride? Was the rider just having a bad day or, god forbid, did they just want a gentle ride? Does it even matter? I always found the need to justify my activities if they seemed rubbish to ensure that I was “keeping up with appearances”. It’s madness really – the less you pay attention to recovery, the more likely you are to burn out or get injured and in fact, rest and recovery is in fact one of the best training sessions we can give ourselves. So now, I go hard when I want, and go easy when I need and I could not care less as it is what’s right for me at that moment, on that day.
What I’m not trying to do is tell you all to quit Strava, or fitness monitoring tech, but merely to question – why am I using it, and would I benefit from some time off tracking the life out of exercise?! For me, I’ve never looked back – I’ve gone from complete Strava obsessive to Strava free living which has rekindled my love of the outdoors and the joy of the privilege of being able to exercise.
Go on, give it a go. I dare you!