What is Strava, how does it work and is it worth paying for?

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(Pocket-lint) - Strava boasts 76 cardinal users and successful March 2021 said that it was increasing astatine astir a complaint of 2 cardinal users a month.

So what is Strava and wherefore should you beryllium progressive with it? More importantly, is it worthy you paying for the subscription that truly unlocks the fun?

What is Strava?

Strava is the Swedish verb to "strive" and the institution classes Strava arsenic a assemblage for athletes. While the numbers are alternatively tiny successful presumption of large societal networks - which tin boast hundreds of millions of users - Strava holds up good against different fittingness platforms.

Strava is wholly focused towards athletes. Much of what Strava offers is astir the investigation of your show and importantly, keeping way of your training. The societal aspects of Strava truly bent disconnected your activities, but successful short, it's a instrumentality for those who exercise.

Usefully, it is simply a cosmopolitan level that each athletes tin use, careless of which instrumentality oregon level they utilized to seizure their sports information with originally.

Who uses Strava?

There are immoderate activities that Strava truly favours and that's cycling and running.

While you tin grounds different activities - from hiking to yoga - Strava is astatine its champion erstwhile analysing show and providing absorbing comparisons for routes - which truly appeals to cyclists and runners.

With tons of users pouring successful tons of data, Strava is large for viewing routes, comparing Segments (parts of a route), but essentially, keeping way of your ain show and grooming goals.

Strava main features

The main elements of Strava breakdown arsenic follows: signaling your activity, your feed, your grooming and performance, routes and segments, and yet challenges. Strava besides has a heatmap of your grooming - which found fame erstwhile it deed headlines and caused a greater absorption connected privateness crossed the level - portion immoderate features are much salient connected the website than they are successful the app.


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Activity feed

The enactment provender is fundamentally the location surface of Strava, wherever you'll spot posts detailing the activities of the radical you follow, arsenic good arsenic your own. Rather than scrolling done a postulation of manual posts oregon shared memes, astir of these are often synced from users' grooming devices - beryllium that Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit oregon others.

Manual posts tin beryllium created, but these aren't truthful common; you tin besides station photos but again, photos are associated with activities.

Activities tin beryllium recorded successful Strava itself arsenic good arsenic manually added and for those with nary tracking device; signaling successful the Strava app is often a utile route.

You tin remark connected an activity, springiness kudos and stock posts - and 1 of the large things that Strava offers is the quality to stock radical events oregon see different users connected your enactment if they didn't person thing to way it with themselves, oregon if you conscionable hap to beryllium exercising with idiosyncratic else.

You tin pat done into an enactment to get much item astir it - beyond velocity oregon distance, you tin look astatine powerfulness output, bosom rate, speed, oregon immoderate different metrics the archetypal jock shared - arsenic good arsenic examining the route. You tin prevention routes different users person shared truthful you tin usage that way yourself, if you're a subsciber.

The Strava smartphone app besides has a person finder connected the Feed leafage - it's a societal web aft each and making connections is portion of what you're expected to do.


The Groups conception successful the app covers a scope of features which grow connected your Strava experience. It covers Challenges (in the app - the website has a abstracted tab for Challenges) and nine search. Originally these were successful a conception called Explore - which inactive exists connected the Strava website - but that was dropped successful favour of boosting the mapping offering successful the app. 

Challenges volition fto you sign-up to assorted things to effort and get you motivated, similar a distance, ascent oregon duration extremity for a week oregon month. Some of these are sponsored with immoderate rewards, similar a discount astatine a store for taking portion successful a peculiar challenge. It's a spot of fun.

There are clubs you tin find and follow, immoderate of these are commercialized companies sharing contented - a small much similar you'd find connected a Facebook page, for example, but determination are besides immoderate much section clubs that volition stock routes and events, similar organised rides - and again, you tin bargain a club's planned way if you privation to person a spell connected your own.

Mapping and routing successful Strava

Maps and routes are 1 of the large elements of immoderate sports-based service, and during 2021, Strava updated its app to present a Maps conception and grow the mapping features to much intimately bespeak the functionality of the website.

As we've said, routes are logged against activities, mostly from athletes syncing rides from GPS devices, beryllium that a Garmin ticker oregon a Wahoo motorcycle computer. We've besides mentioned that you tin log activities done the smartphone app, utilizing it arsenic a tracking app - and this is fashionable with athletes who strap connected an armband oregon handlebar equine the phone, unfastened the app and deed record.

The maps successful Strava travel from Mapbox and are customized for Strava, including satellite, hybrid and modular views, the second showing plentifulness of mapping features similar isobars and immoderate terrain shading, truthful you tin spot terrain features astatine a glance.


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In the smartphone app

The maps you get successful the Strava app provender are mostly for notation - you tin view, you tin alteration what you see, but you tin bash a batch much with them if you are a subscriber, which is determination the Maps conception comes in. The Strava app volition fto subscribers observe routes successful the Maps section. The app volition not lone suggest routes, but fto you make them too.

Starting with creation, you tin prime the benignant of way you privation - ride, run, locomotion - the magnitude of way arsenic good arsenic being capable to specify if you privation it to beryllium hilly oregon flat, paved oregon off-road. Three routes are past suggested for you based connected your criteria, on with the details - distance, profile, estimated clip and the enactment to alteration waypoints with a mates of taps.

This is large if you're connected vacation and privation to explore, oregon moving distant from location and privation to find a convenient moving way from your hotel.

You tin besides make routes freehand, drafting connected the representation and having the way automatically calculated. You conscionable person to get the representation connected the display, pat the pencil icon truthful it turns orangish and past gully wherever you privation to go.

You person to marque definite you commencement and extremity the thrust wherever you are, different you'll conscionable person a starting constituent wherever you archetypal touched the map. What this freehand way instauration means is you tin gully a signifier connected the representation and past make a way to lucifer - with each the details to spell with it. The caput boggles.

Once a way is created and saved, it volition beryllium synced to supported devices truthful you tin past caput retired and thrust oregon tally it. It's worthy checking, however, arsenic it tin make doglegs, laps of roundabouts and different oddities that it's amended to cognize astir successful beforehand alternatively than erstwhile you're retired connected that route.


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On the Strava website

The Strava website is truly bully for mapping and routes, due to the fact that you get a batch much abstraction to presumption and it's easier to edit.

There's plentifulness of freehand instauration successful the website, but you don't get the suggestions that you get successful the app. That is, erstwhile again, a spot of a shame due to the fact that car way instauration connected a larger surface successful a browser would besides beryllium utile - arsenic would parity betwixt website and app functionality.

Still, you tin past gully your routes freehand, applying immoderate constraints connected however those routes are mapped out. Strava gives you the enactment to travel fashionable routes from its heatmap - truthful you extremity up connected fashionable routes alternatively than backstreets and obscure pathways - and you tin besides prime aboveground type. For runners that means you tin prime ungraded surfaces, for roadworthy bikers you tin opt for paved routes only. For those buying into the increasing popularity of gravel bikes, you tin find each sorts of routes you mightiness ne'er spot from the road.

The Strava website volition besides fto you research Segments, which we'll speech astir below.


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Segments: Where Strava truly shines

As the sanction suggests, Segments are portion of a longer route. Strava isn't unsocial successful offering specified sections, Garmin besides does immoderate conception breakdown successful Garmin Connect, but it's nary mode adjacent arsenic utile arsenic it is successful Strava.

Segments lets you comparison your show implicit a people with erstwhile efforts. Because determination are tons of Segments, you tin analyse your show connected a peculiar climb, downhill section, level sprint, off-road way - immoderate you want.

When you implicit an activity, the Segments that way covers are provided arsenic portion of the breakdown successful the item of that activity. If you've been done those Segments before, you tin spot if you were faster oregon slower - and implicit time, you tin physique up a granular representation of your show connected that circumstantial Segment.

Taking it a signifier further, you tin spot however your show compares with your friends and different athletes, you tin vie to bushed their times, you tin vie against everyone to instrumentality the crown - and it's each deliciously recorded successful Strava.

Segments are possibly the astir compelling portion of the Strava level and there's thing rather arsenic satisfying arsenic looking backmost implicit a agelong thrust and seeing however you performed connected those segments.


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You tin besides "favourite" Segments and acceptable goals connected Segments to assistance you people performance. The large happening astir these Segments is that volition past sync to compatible devices. For example, you tin acceptable a extremity connected a peculiar Segment that volition sync to your Garmin Edge, your Wahoo oregon Hammerhead Karoo, truthful that erstwhile you get astatine that Segment connected your ride, you're presented with the extremity accusation truthful you tin enactment the hammer down.

You tin besides make Segments from routes you person successful Strava. While those successful engaged areas volition find astir places already person a batch of Segments, if you unrecorded determination much distant oregon instrumentality a way that nary 1 other truly does, you tin conscionable make those Segments for your use, to usage arsenic a idiosyncratic show benchmark. Of course, different Strava users volition past beryllium capable to usage them - and there's plentifulness of Segments with drama names that volition marque you chuckle erstwhile you observe them.

Segments besides drives Strava's Local Legend feature, which highlights athletes who log the astir activities connected those Segments.

Segments tin beryllium recovered links to immoderate way and if you usage the Maps diagnostic successful the app to make a route, you'll past beryllium capable to analyse Segments on that route. On the Strava website you tin really research Segments directly, zooming successful to the representation to spot what's there. This is truly utile if you privation to go a Local Legend successful your area, oregon privation to interruption immoderate records connected section Segments.


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Data, data, data: Performance tracking

Outside of finding, mapping, signaling and creating routes for immoderate athletics you privation to partake in, Strava offers a batch of information investigation connected the apical of that. From immoderate logged enactment you get a grounds of the information created - bosom rate, speed, distance, elevation change, powerfulness (either logged from sensors oregon estimated) and much besides. Much of this volition beryllium connected the information you enactment successful - astir modern watches volition springiness you bosom rate, speed, distance, immoderate volition springiness you cadence; further sensors are supported too, similar powerfulness meters oregon cadence sensors for cyclists. The much you enactment in, the much you get out.

You tin browse the related graphs and spot however those hills affected your bosom complaint and truthful connected arsenic you tin connected astir different sports services, from Apple Health to Polar Flow. Strava besides collates your enactment information truthful you tin easy spot your region implicit the weeks, months and years. It's casual to spot your full stats and for anyone who wants to log thing similar miles connected a peculiar brace of shoes, Strava volition fto you bash that.

Some of the much elaborate grooming features that are much absorbing are down the subscription paywall. Because the accusation you get retired depends connected what you stock with Strava, subsciptions besides favour those who person much information gathering kit. If you conscionable person a basal GPS motorcycle computer, you won't get each the investigation that you would if you had a powerfulness meter, cadence sensor and a bosom complaint strap, for example.

One measurement is Relative Effort which gives you a sense, week connected week, of however your activities comparison to your erstwhile weeks. This is based connected bosom rates and tin springiness you a consciousness of however hard you've been working. It's designed truthful that harder sessions and lighter sessions tin beryllium compared alternatively than a airy locomotion for 2 hours trumping a 30 infinitesimal tally with sprints, for example.


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Fitness tracking is an absorbing broadside of the investigation that fundamentally takes your grooming load and comparative effort to gauge your regular grooming and exemplary the effect it has. This sees fittingness going up done maintaining load and recovering implicit time. While the numbers don't truly mean anything, the wide inclination successful the absorption of alteration is what you're looking for, hopefully connected an upward trajectory.

It's a mode of getting immoderate feedback that you're grooming consistently good to bring astir fittingness gains. With regular activities successful a balanced attack you'll spot your fittingness improving, if you bash 1 hard league and past thing for the remainder of the week, you mightiness not spot immoderate gains astatine all. Essentially, it's a ocular practice of however your efforts bespeak what we cognize from the subject down grooming champion practise.

It's a large motivational instrumentality too, due to the fact that Strava regularly displays this benignant of information, truthful you tin spot however your week compares to your erstwhile week, whether you're maintaining your play average, oregon are higher oregon lower.

It's besides present that Strava delivers 1 of its champion functions: due to the fact that you're pooling information each successful 1 place, immoderate enactment tin contribute. That mightiness beryllium a tally from a Polar Vantage, a thrust from a Garmin Edge and a aquatics from an Apple Watch. You're not past having to look implicit Apple Health, Polar Flow and Garmin Connect to spot each this information - it's each successful 1 place, and 1 spot that's going to analyse this information successful a sensible way.

What does a subscription get you and is it worthy it?

Strava restructured itself successful 2020 to enactment a small much of what it offered into the subscription tier - antecedently called Summit. There's present a escaped mentation oregon a subscription version.

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The subscription includes:

  • Routes, readying and recommendations
  • Matches rides and runs with show analysis
  • Training log
  • Segment leaderboards, section legends
  • Live Segments connected compatible devices
  • Monthly enactment trends and comparisons
  • Goal setting
  • Heatmaps
  • Training plans
  • Power curve - if you person a powerfulness meter
  • Fitness and freshness analysis

For those who don't subscribe, you tin inactive record, stock and presumption activities successful Strava, truthful it inactive maintains its usage arsenic a grooming log, capable to collate information from a scope of antithetic devices - and beryllium portion of the community. Arguably, immoderate volition get that from Fitbit, Garmin Connect oregon Apple Health anyway, if that's the instrumentality you're using.

The subscription costs £47.99/$59.99 a twelvemonth - oregon £6.99/$5 a period - truthful is it worthy it? If you're funny successful information and workout a batch - particularly erstwhile it comes to moving and cycling - past yes, there's a batch present that you'll enjoy. For cyclists, the entreaty of Segments is astir apt worthy the terms unsocial and for us, it's the subsciption features that we truly enjoy, but we're information geeks.

Even if you don't privation to pay, there's capable escaped successful Strava to marque it utile - particularly if you are utilizing devices connected aggregate platforms oregon logged successful antithetic ways.

What devices are compatible with Strava?

The database is long, but the pursuing instrumentality platforms tin beryllium synced to Strava:

  • Amazfit
  • Bkool
  • Bryton
  • Casio
  • CycleOps: Joule
  • Fitbit
  • Garmin
  • Lyzene
  • MIO
  • Peloton
  • Pioneer
  • Polar
  • Recon: Jet
  • Sigma
  • Soleus
  • SRM:PC8
  • Suunto
  • Tacx
  • TomTom
  • Wahoo
  • Zwift

The pursuing services tin besides sync with Strava:

  • Apple Health
  • Endomondo
  • Garmin Connect
  • Google Fit (only syncs to Google, not from)
  • MapMyRun
  • MapMyRide
  • Runkeeper

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published connected 1 December 2020.

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