This is going to be a quick introduction to Strava, an app that many of my friends use, but some actually underestimate when thinking about the power of human connection. So today I would share my quick tips on how to use the app to foster friendships and build support networks (to be honest not just for training, but generally in challenging times like the current pandemic). Please remember, that like any other online space, Strava can be used for walks, yoga and even – in my case – gardening. All of those activities improve our health, you do not need to be an athlete to benefit from this online space.
Here are my quick tips:
Connect with your friends
Ask around and find your friends who are active and use the app to exchange support after each activity or workout – the power of peer support is fantastic, so why not use it? Additionally, in times where most of us are still working from home, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with our friends and simply see that they are OK. I love watching my friends doing their morning runs with their dogs, picking up litter in their local parks or cycling around their local lakes. I am happy to see them happy. And every single “kudos” of my beginner training keeps me going, motivates me to put my running shoes on. We all start somewhere and our friends know this.
Connect with athletes who post photos from your favourite locations
Strava has an open search for public profiles, so finding athletes in your favourite cities or landscapes can be very inspiring. I follow people in locations I used to live in, as well as in places I travelled to or would love to visit – and clearly at the moment cannot (or do not wish to risk going to just yet). Oftentimes you might find that those athletes will follow you back and support your training journey too.
Update your profile to inspire others
As a follow up to the previous point – consider that if you have a public profile and people follow you back, you also have an opportunity to share your experiences through photos – living in Bristol I really like to share the local street art when possible, although to be honest my stream is full of flowers and other examples of nature – because that inspires me to run, cycle, walk. I find that my friends enjoy those photos too. They cheer them up.
Explore all Strava options
Check out local routes, clubs and challenges – to enjoy this virtual environment lightly, with a bit of fun. Of course local routes, challenges and clubs can also lead to new connections, so that can be really rewarding too.
Track your progress to discuss it with your fitness buddy
The idea of a fitness buddy is helpful when we start our training (or any new habit, to be honest) so using the Strava training tracking can help those weekly or monthly catch-ups with friends. I used to be quite worried and sad about my less active weeks, but when I checked my annual stats I discovered a clear spike in exercise, so I was able to discuss this all with my friends and enjoy my workouts more.
Strava is just an app, of course. It is also a social network – we create our Strava identity and connect with others in this virtual space. How we connect and what will be the quality of our relationships on Strava depends on us – our choices. I strongly recommend checking out all its options, trying them out and using those that suit your individual need for human connection.