It can bring the best of times, it can bring the worst of times. Strava is one of the most commonly used apps for endurance athletes, but how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of it?

Are you a runner looking to up your game and get the most out of your training? Look no further than Strava, for some it is the ultimate app for tracking your workouts, setting goals, and giving you a virtual high five from your friends every time you break a personal record.

This isn’t an ad, we just enjoy using the app. It could actually be my favourite social media format. It just needs more videos of dogs like Instagram has.

But beware: Strava can also be a double-edged sword, tempting you to compare yourself to others and turn every run into a cutthroat competition. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with some tips for using Strava as a helpful training tool, rather than a source of stress and frustration.

Set your own goals

Use Strava to track your progress and set your own personal goals, rather than comparing yourself to others. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your own training. When the app took away a lot of features from the free version last year it did cause some uproar.

It made many, myself included, consider what the features we valued most were. Personally it was comparing my runs against myself, not other. So with “compare my run” and the “training log” now premium features it wasn’t long before I was shelling out the big bucks.

Want some help with setting some goals? We’ve got your back there too. 

Avoid the “comparison trap”

It’s natural to want to compare ourselves to others, but ask yourself what you gain from it. It can lead to frustration and negative emotions. Instead, focus on your own progress and celebrate your own achievements. Celebrate other’s achievements too, but in a supportive way that means we can all grow stronger together.

Remember “comparison is the thief of joy” according to British marathoner Natasha Cockram.

Work with, not giants, each other. Like team hour7 of course. Photo: Dave MacFarlane

Use Strava as a tool, not a crutch

Strava can be a great way to track your workouts and stay motivated, but it’s important to remember that it’s just a tool. Don’t rely on it too heavily and make sure to mix up your training and workouts to avoid burnout.

If you find yourself changing what you do, or your feelings, based on what it will look like on Strava then it may be time for a break. Taking time away from an app can be refreshing if it has become a bit too much.

Using data to inform your training is great, but if it is dictating how you feel about your running, rather than helping your reflect and grow stronger then it can be important to take a step back at times and re-assess the value.

Save the competition for race day, like at Trofeo Nasego in Italy. Photo: Alex Courthoud

Don’t let ego get in the way

It’s easy to get caught up in the competition on Strava, but remember that your primary goal should be to improve your own fitness and health. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your training and progress.

Overall, Strava can be a great tool for motivation and tracking progress, but it’s important to use it in a healthy and balanced way. If you’re solely focused on your own success and besting others it can have implications for long term motivation and continued involvement in there sport.

Some spend their entire run thinking up great names for their activity on Strava, considering the best way to make it sound like they were going easy than it looks. But being honest with how a run went can be a useful reflective tool, but also an insight for others that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies in the world of endurance running.

Robbie Britton is a British international ultra-runner and coach, who lists all his training on Strava, with the good runs and the bad ones included. Follow his training for the Turin 24hr race in February 2023 here.