Strava

Published May 19, 2020

I was disappointed by Strava's recent announcement that it is moving previously free features to the paid subscription service.

The announcement can be found here.

I pay for Strava because I quite like it. I guess that by most standards I'm a pretty serious runner. I usually run daily, about 60k per week. So I use Strava a lot. But do I find Strava useful? No, not really - from a training and performance perspective, Garmin Connect has better metrics. But Strava has a community and a social aspect, and that's what I like.

That's what Strava is - a social app based around fitness rather than a fitness app first, in the same way that Instagram isn't really a photography app.

So I'm disappointed Strava is putting social features behind a paywall and deterring free users, because by reducing the value of the app for free users it's also reducing the value of the network for paying users like myself.

I also think that it's important to note that it is an obvious step in the wrong direction for Strava to focus on reducing the value of their free service rather than increasing the value of their paid service.

I'll be blunt and say that, even though I'm a subscriber, I do not think their paid features are worth the money. They are missing opportunities to provide useful functionality for serious athletes. There are so many things I'd like Strava to tell me:

  • Estimates for realistic best performance over common distances (5k, 10k, half + full marathon, etc) based on my current shape.
  • Training plans, probably automated, based on my current shape and goals
  • Summaries aggregated by week/month showing how much time I'm spending in each heart rate and pace zone.
  • 'Weather adjusted' pace; in the same way that Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts my pace for changes in elevation, I'd like to try to compare my performance when the weather suddenly heats up.
  • Automatic elevation correction - there is already a button to do this per activity, but only on the website! (well, OK, this one shouldn't be a premium feature). Without this, for me at least, the Grade Adjusted Pace feature is pretty useless.
  • Better understanding of my exertion levels and over-training risks, e.g. my interval sessions always end up being treated as an easy workout because they don't last long and my heart rate drops back to normal very fast between reps (and, including warm up and cool down, my average heart rate for an interval session can be quite low, so Strava's relative exertion metric scores quite low). But, even over the short periods, my speed, cadence and stride length is unusually high, which is obviously putting serious strain on my muscles and should be treated as a hard workout.
  • Better querying in general - e.g. show me my 10 fastest kilometres, my longest run, my highest heart rates recorded, etc. Strava stores so much data, but provides scant methods to explore it.

Overall I think Strava is focusing on entirely the wrong approach. They should be keeping the social features to appeal to a wide base of athletes and make the overall platform free for everyone, but enticing the more serious athletes to pay.

Filed under: running, strava
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