Strava for the Real World?

One of the most popular tracking tools for cyclists, runners, triathletes and other endurance athletes is Strava. This (free) tool allows athletes in any location around the globe to “compete” for awards such as “King of the Mountain” or “Course Record Holder.” Anyone with a GPS device can play. You set up your own “courses” or simply view those set up by other cyclists/runners in your area. It adds another element of challenge and intrigue to just about any ride or run.

However, the most valuable aspect has nothing to do with the other cyclists or runners.  Instead, the true value presents itself in your ability to see how you stack up against… YOU!

One of my favorite training sessions is to hop on my bike and head north. Instead of following a strict set of intervals (ie, 10 x 5 min w/ 2 min recover), I simply ride – until I hit a hill. Hills are the trigger to GO! Once the top is reached, dial it back until the next hill and repeat. Once home, Strava allows me to see – for each of these hill “segments” – whether I was faster or slower than last week, last month or last year. It doesn’t matter that I’ll never come close to the guy who holds the “King of the Mountain” title. The value is in seeing how I’m progressing over time – and this makes that very, very clear.

Other times, it offers a surprise outcome. I’ve been pushing the training pretty hard in recent weeks, and in recent days my body has felt like there’s absolutely nothing in the tank. I’d planned to do some intervals this AM, but it just wasn’t there. Sluggish… heavy legs… low motivation… didn’t really even want to be out there.  So I shifted to the backup plan: Strava mode.

GPS on… get out the door… run a course I’ve run dozens of times… cruise (or in this case “trudge”) pace… until the hills appear. Then it’s GO TIME! The problem was that today there really wasn’t any “GO” available in the tank. I tried, but just didn’t seem to have it. So I just continued to do my best, attacking (a word that definitely over-states what I brought to the table today) each of the 5 hills during the 7 mile route. The sluggishness never really went away, but I got through it. Then, when I got back to my computer, I took a peek at the results just to see how bad it really turned out to be.

5 hills: All-time best on 3 of those 5, and the 3rd best time ever on a segment I’ve now done 94 times. Wait – what? But I was slow – no energy? Sometimes “feelings” aren’t as accurate as we’d like to believe and an objective reality check can put things in perspective.

This got me thinking – what if we had a Strava for the rest of our life’s pursuits? What if I got done with my workday, downloaded “the day” and received immediate feedback on how it compared to all the other days before? Apply it to anything you’d like – can you imagine the impact of that sort of feedback? Feelings are powerful – but they’re also very inaccurate.

That’s where you, as a Wellness Coach, comes in. You know your client. You know her history, her gaps, her strengths, her patterns. In many ways, YOU are her Strava for life! You are bringing a reality check to a world where the feedback is too often dictated by the number of “Likes” received on social media or the expression on the face of a co-worker or family member. None of those tend to be very accurate.

You are the real life Strava for your clients. It’s an honor that needs to be treated very, very seriously.

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