Dear Coach: How Can I Use Strava to Boost My Training?

We all love chasing a KOM or QOM—but can too much Strava be bad for you?

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The Strava app is an excellent way for runners and triathletes to connect. It’s a social network where we can geek out with people who do exactly what we love to do. And giving kudos (thumbs up) to your teammates and training buddies is a great way to show your support and help motivate someone. You can also upload unlimited photos from your favorite routes and workouts, as well as check out new routes—or simply just let your jaw drop at some of the insane workouts the pros do every day (or check out newly-crowned Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt’s race-winning power file).

One of the goals of Strava was to create that locker room feel and camaraderie for all of us, and I think they’ve achieved that well. We all can share ideas, workouts, and cheer each other on no matter where we are in the world.

During the pandemic, Strava took on even greater importance during a time when races and group workouts were either canceled or almost non-existent. It became a significant outlet for many wanting to fuel their competitive fire or just find that extra support or motivation to keep going. We push each other to try new things, or maybe even just try to keep up. How many times have you seen an epic workout posted from a friend and thought: “Oh man, now I gotta go do that?!”

Of course, as with so much of our triathlon training, it’s also quite easy to overdo it when it comes to Strava. I’ve known athletes to push a little too hard in workouts when they should be taking it easy simply because they’re caught up in that competitive spirit, which ultimately isn’t going to benefit their own personal progress. It can be great to incorporate your training intervals on segments for that extra push you might need, but just be sure not to turn your easy spin into a sprint session chasing the last person’s PR. Plan it appropriately like you would any other training and then designate days when you leave the racing off the cards.

Last, but by no means least, there’s also safety to consider: at no time should anyone put themselves or others at risk because they’re chasing a segment. Safety has to be first and foremost.

The other risk is being caught up in that competitive spirit when it might not be benefiting your own personal progress.

RELATED: A KOM Too Far? The Top Ten Best (Worst?) Ideas for Strava KOMs

Strava Do’s and Don’ts

Use it freely for:

  • Motivation

  • Support and connecting with like-minded people

  • New ideas to implement in your own training

  • Healthy social media outlet

  • New routes and maps to discover

Be wary of:

  • Racing every day when it harms your own progress

  • Safety

  • Social pressure that becomes unhealthy

Overall, just have fun with it! Create a segment, chase a segment, challenge your buddies. It’s a great way to keep training fun while also staying connected with your friends.

Get the best advice from the sport’s top experts – check out our Dear Coach series for answers to the most common questions for triathletes.

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