Strava Syndrome & The age of Data

This month’s post has been delayed due to all the updates with the new website. So it is a short one but it’s all about numbers, numbers numbers!

Most active people are joined together by exactly that - the passion for activity and exercise, and for most it starts off as something new and gradually over weeks, months or years we change our lives to try and fit in more runs, different cycling routes, faster swims, longer runs and many more!
What I have seen happen is the mass introduction of data capture via watches, apps and various monitoring devices.

Whilst personally I am not against the idea of this, and as a Physio it is great to get some feedback about how a patient's training is unfolding – especially if you have a specific goal in mind (training for a sub 1 Hour 10K for example). I often end up using it in clinic to see a pattern emerge about training types, and especially to see when an injury may have happened.
What I struggle to agree with personally is the notion that people become obsessed with this set of data, and this in turn cascades into a few different things. It can cause an increase in training for trainings sake. By that I mean the idea of training as per a set schedule or from a programme becomes lost and the data and need to upload a particular activity takes over. 

There are two potential problems here that I see. The ‘Strava Syndrome’ I’m going to call it. Whereby the love of running for running’s sake is lost – it becomes all about the numbers, how will you maintain your personal record, and can you reach more runs than last week? This can become an addictive and destructive way to conduct your training. There should be structure (as much as possible) so you have adequate time for different runs alongside rest. I’m very much in favour of some of my runs without a watch/device and going back to the old-school of measuring heart rate and how you feel your effort has been during a run.

The second is slightly more sinister; in the form of others feeling it is ok to remark on others training based on their data appearing on these platforms.  Although it may originate as innocent positive feedback from friends and family with comments on training, which I very much welcome. Unfortunately, more recently I have seen very negative comments on training runs, and opinions on people’s efforts, pace and distance all scrutinised without hesitation. This type of thing cannot be good for anyone, and it really should not happen in such a public place as Strava/ Training Peaks/ etc.

The bottom line with any type of public sharing platform that you upload onto is that you are doing just that and putting it out there for anyone and everyone to see, so be prepared for people to pass their opinion on. Just take these with a heavy pinch of salt. Run your race and train how you feel - you know your body best not someone commenting on your last run!