I’ve tried Run Keeper, Map My Run, and Strava, and if you’re looking to start tracking your running progress I’d recommend Strava above the rest. Particularly if you’re dealing with a health condition and want to see how your symptoms or lack thereof correlate with changes in your athletic performance. So here’s the lowdown on Strava and Strava Premium!
The free subscription to Strava will get you the following features:
- Ability to record runs using your phone’s GPS
- Compatibility with many GPS watches-I use it with my beloved Garmin Forerunner and Garmin Connect!
- Connection with Facebook friends and phone contacts
- Access to your running history and personal bests
- Your mileage for the current week
- Map, mile splits, elevation profile, and heart rate (if you have a heart rate monitor connected to the app) for each run
- Ability to join running groups around your area and follow their runs
- Segment Explorer, a feature that allows you to compare how you did at certain popular stretches of road to how fast you ran that segment during previous runs and how fast others have ran it before you
A premium subscription is $59 per year or $7.99 per month. Here’s what it will get you, in addition to the free features above:
- Pace Zone Analysis, which is just a bar graph of how today’s run compares to your median, maximum, and minimum pace. Your pace is divided into bars according to how many minutes you spent running in each calculated pace zone.
- Heart Rate Zone Analysis, a pie chart of how long you spent in each heart rate zone during your run
- Strava Suffer Score, which is a number Strava calculates that shows how challenging your run was according to your Heart Rate Zone Analysis
- A heat map of your runs, my favorite feature of premium! Viewable only on your desktop
- Ability to set custom goals and track your progress over time
- Custom training plans
In short, if you have a heart rate monitor and are a running geek like me, premium is worth a try. With it you won’t just have a record of your runs- you’ll have an entire history of your effort and performance. As a Spoonie that’s been particularly useful to me because it has allowed me to observe the impact that my workouts over time have had on my health. Furthermore, the Suffer Score has been useful to me in deciding if I am running to my full potential or not.
However, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor you would gain a lot less from the premium subscription. In that case, you should ask yourself whether or not having a running heatmap and a historical record of your mileage is worth $59 a year to you. If not, don’t bother!
One final note about Strava and Strava Premium is that their default privacy settings allow your runs to be visible to anyone. So make sure to set privacy to “enhanced” on the mobile app – this will hide your runs from everyone except for your Strava followers and members of groups you belong to on Strava. Then get on the desktop version and go to Settings-> Privacy to hide your activity within a specified radius around your home and office to make sure no one can see where you live and work.
What do you think of Strava? Do you use any other activity tracking apps?