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Find semi-scientific answers to your most pressing questions, each month in Triathlete magazine.
I shall assume one of two things just happened: A friend’s dash to their mailbox appeared in your feed, or you floated across a hot tub then wondered if that counts as a swim. I love to comment, “Not Stravable!” on super-short workouts, but I only do it to good friends who tend to write back witty, mature things like, “Your mom’s not Stravable!” But dumping a “Not Stravable!” on a complete stranger would make me a jerk, wouldn’t it?
Your question is really one of etiquette, the same thing that once made people stick up their pinkies when they drank tea. It’s a code of behavior among a particular group of people, a concept that took off during the reign of Louis XIV, aka The Sun King, in the 1600s. The French roi enforced all sorts of rules in his court: If you wanted to speak to him, you dare not knock on his door; instead, gently scratch it using your left pinky until granted permission to enter. Did you just open a door yourself? Only ushers are allowed to do that! Did you just unfold your dinner napkin all the way in your lap? You dog!
The point of all these silly rules was to assert the supremacy of the people who knew and practiced the rules over those who didn’t. Based on that fact alone, it would seem that etiquette is overrated, and you should do whatever you darn well please, and that’s really the answer here, but stay with me.
As Henry Hitchings, author of Sorry! The English and their Manners, wrote for the Independent, while much dogma is now dated (what creep scratches on a door with a pinky nail?), what remains is “the conviction—on the part of those well versed in etiquette—that a respect for its niceties is a sign of deeper virtues: sensitivity, community spirit, moral strength.”
I suspect that’s why you’re asking: You don’t want to appear to the triathlon Strava community as though you have bad manners and are therefore an insensitive, morally corrupt loner. I applaud your self-awareness; the fact that you’re even asking this question proves you’re attune to how your actions affect others—and that you know people still like to judge others based on how they follow their group’s code, even if that code is whack.
The thing is there is no universal Strava code of etiquette. If you’re really concerned about what others think of how you use the platform, then you’ve got to look at your own Strava crew—the groups you’re a part of, the people you follow and your followers—and the rules they’ve made for themselves.
If you were in my tiny crew, for example, I’d say that five-meter sprint down your driveway to rescue an errant basketball isn’t Stravable—but you’d post it anyway and I’d be disappointed if you didn’t. If you were Strava friends with pro triathlete and 2014 Kona runner-up Ben Hoffman, he’d be a lot nicer.
“I don’t have any rules,” he says. “If you get out there, it counts. Anything counts. A friend of mine puts his dog walks on there. It’s just a fun way to track everything that you do.”
But Hoffman would be miffed if you were a pro and you ghost followed him. That’s social media speak for following people but posting nothing yourself. I, on the other hand, am a ghost follower who rarely posts anything myself on Strava, so I don’t find ghosting all that strange. Probably everyone would be ticked off if you did a multi-brick with 20 transitions and posted every segment as a separate workout. Or named an insanely hard workout “recovery” swim, bike or run. Unless you’re doing it ironically.
And the only way anyone’s going to know if you jerk-named a tough ride “recovery ride” or if you did it ironically is if they’re your friends and they get you and your sense of humor.
So what have we learned here? King Louis the XIV was cray. And when in doubt, post the workout.
Thumbs up Ben Hoffman’s bike rides even if you never post one yourself. Heckle your best friends. Go out and steal someone’s KOM half an hour after you got an email that they stole it from you. Name yourself “Manslaughter” and make your fellow triathletes wonder the intended pronunciation. Only you know how your buddies will react to what you do on Strava, and there are few, if any, universal Strava-specific rules of etiquette; trying to figure them out is a waste of time. Like all social media platforms, the terms change constantly.
Remember when Facebook launched its news feed and we all thought it was the worst intrusion of privacy? But now we post every cute thing our dogs do for the world to see. Just like knocking on a door or opening one for yourself deserved a shunning in The Sun King’s court, what’s considered gauche on Strava will change soon enough, and nobody will remember your faux pas.