Telling someone you rode your bike 80 miles is one thing, but showing them what you did and the route you took is a complete different story – a much more entertaining one, too. Now imagine being able to instantly show the photos of the amazing views you saw that made that last grueling climb so worth it. You can do this, and more, with Strava.
Strava is an Android app (included on our Best Android Apps page) that records and tracks your running and cycling habits. The idea of tracking how far and where you go with GPS is a fairly recent development in the fitness world, although it’s taking off fast.
Don’t Have Android? No Problem
In this article, we’re going to focus on the functions and features of using the Strava Android app. However, Strava is also one of the must-have iPhone apps for cyclists. If you use a standalone GPS device (see supported GPS devices), Strava works perfect for many of those too. And the features and functions of Strava don’t vary between mobile platforms, though the interface does slightly.
Track & Analyze
Strava only uses GPS to track your route. So if you’re in the middle of nowhere with no data service, or perhaps have data capabilities turned off to extend battery life, you can still use Strava and track your activity. Strava will also save the route to your phone (even if you turn it off), so you won’t need to worry about losing it if you aren’t around a data signal to post it.
Once you’re on your route, you can view the stats of your ride:
- Elapsed time
- Distance traveled
- Average speed (biking) or Split pace (running)
To the right of “Stats”, you can view the map of where you’ve gone. This can also be accomplished by swiping the screen from right to left.
Once you’re finished and have posted the ride to Strava, you can access an overview of the ride including moving time, distance, average speed, elevation gain, approximate calories burned and a map of the route. The “trophy” icon displays the segments on your ride or run and how you did in comparison to your previous times and other athletes.
Compare & Compete
Though Strava is great for analyzing your own performance, it excels at being a social platform for comparing your performance with other athletes to compete for the top spots in segments, which are specific sections of roads or trails. When looking at a specific segment, such as the one below, you will see the top ranks as well as your own time and placement.
Curious how everyone is doing on that segment? Or perhaps just specific people? You can view that too. Shown below are the overall ranks, but by clicking “Following” you can see how you stack up to your teammates, friends and other fellow athletes that you’re connected with on Strava. Notice the second image to the right – you can filter results by club, time and gender.
If you’re looking to add a little more incentive to your workouts, Strava has challenges you can take part in too. You can use these for personal motivation or compare your progress to others you know and follow.
You may also use Strava to find new routes and trail systems to ride, run and explore. Users fill in this data. For instance, here is a screenshot of the nearby segments that I looked into while I was visiting Teton Valley, Idaho.
The blue dot represents where I am and you can see that it’s not far to the closest trails. This has proven useful time and time again when I’m in a new area looking for places to ride my bike.
One of Strava’s greatest social features is how it connects you with other local athletes in your area. If you’ve ever wanted a workout partner and aren’t opposed to meeting a complete stranger, this might be the best way to accomplish that. I’ve mountain biked with people I just met or connected with on numerous occasions.
Another great social feature is the feed of activities of those whom you’re following. You can stay up to date with those in your area, or others you know who you may not be geographically near anymore, but still are able to stay in touch and interact through Strava.
Kudos and comments can be given on each activity. Perhaps you want to congratulate someone on a great job, ask about the trail conditions or talk about a time to meet up and ride together – this is what the comments are for. You can see where kudos and comments are given in the image below.
You’ll also notice in the above screenshot that there are pictures attached to the activity. That is because I took an image and posted it to Instagram while recording an activity on Strava. Strava then syncs with your Instagram account and attaches the picture to the ride. This was honestly the only reason I ever even started an Instagram account.
In addition to syncing to Instagram, Strava can also connect and share your activity to Facebook and Twitter. Are you writing about your latest workout or outing and want to show the readers of your blog where you went? You can embed your Strava activity too by copying and pasting the code from the website into your post.
Another social aspect of Strava is clubs. You can join local clubs or much larger national/international ones and connect with athletes.
Probably the greatest, most useful social feature is linking your activity to those who you’re working out with. Looking at the images below, you can see the additional athletes who rode with me on a particular mountain bike ride.
Keeping It Private
Though Strava is very good at being a social app, if that’s not your cup of tea, you can choose to make your activity private or not even connecting with anyone. In essence, this would just be a private, digital fitness journal instead of a social one.
Strava Isn’t Just For Running And Cycling
If you find yourself doing other activities in addition to running and/or cycling, you can record and track those with Strava too.
You can see in the image above that there are a vast amount of other outdoor activities you can use Strava for. That said, Strava’s primary functions and features are still focused on running and cycling, so if one of those aren’t your primary sports, you may want to look at a different app.
Alternatives To Strava
It’s always nice to have options and Strava certainly isn’t the only one of it’s kind. We’ve covered the 5 top cycling apps for Android, including Endomondo (our review). Other great alternatives are as follows:
- MapMyRun/MapMyRide (Others: MapMyFitness, MapMyWalk, MapMyHike)
- Runkeeper (our review)
- MyTracks (our review)
Now Go Prove It
Whether you’re a beginner of running or cycling, or a seasoned athlete, Strava fits the bill and appeals to almost everyone in one way or another.
Do you you Strava or another fitness app? How do you feel it compares? Has it improved your fitness experience? Pushed you harder? Helped you meet new people? Motivated you? Encouraged you?
Share your experiences and stories in the comments – we’d love to hear about them!