Imagine the following: you’ve just finished a hike, a run, a skin ‘n’ ski, a bike ride – place your favorite mountain sport here. But you smile worn out. You feel that wonderful, sweaty, contented exhaustion that you only get from days of great activity in the hills. They are sitting on the tailgate of your Subaru. You’ve cracked your favorite soft drink after the mountain. What are you doing next You pick up your phone. And you scroll. And you compare. Because social media and Strava’s digital tail measurement competition is the only reason you even went outside. Yuck.
How it started
A few years ago I signed up for my first ultra marathon. I wasn’t really a runner, probably a little jogger at best. I certainly didn’t see myself as something resembling an endurance athlete unless you talk about eating donuts that go way beyond feeling full. But I wanted a big challenge, and I wanted to do something my brain told my body it couldn’t. As soon as I started training, I realized that I needed a way to track my runs. I needed to know my distance, vertical gain, and pace in order to properly prepare mentally and physically. Up until that point, I always looked at apps like Strava or Mountain Hub and thought what was it about?
What’s the point
I understand the need to track your progress when exercising or just for personal atta boy desires. But I don’t understand the need to post results socially and compare yourself to the other people in your hometown, nationwide, national or intergalactic, who I am sure will come soon. Why is it important to measure yourself against your neighbor? Chances are you’re not a professional athlete. Your “results” do not matter. To me this all seems like a great way to play peacocks, show your cool take on the city and the old interwebz. Let’s put it this way: Social posting on Strava is nature’s Ax Body Spray. They want to impress, but all you do is create a sharp, chunky cloud that reeks of too much exertion.
The entire social media attitude “Look how radical I got out there” is a smug, self-congratulatory, fearful digital house of cards. If the story of Narcissus were written today, it would tell the story of an IG influencer with a bio that reads “Public Figure, Digital Creator, Personal Brand” and refers to his “How to Live Your Best Life” podcast. And the handsome boy in Greek mythology would be an endurance athlete using Strava. Strava and the like are meant for independent nerds who are more concerned with being better than someone than actually having fun. And I just can’t stand people who take themselves too seriously. You know the guy who wears black eyes and does slow pitch softball exercises? If you post results on the Strava social platform, it is you, bub.
It’s time to declare independence
Your gag reflex should be triggered when you hear people talk about PRs and post them digitally. Let’s start a Strava revolution. There are two ways to do this. Method 1: delete Strava from your phone Method two: join me in my new strava-ing. I will keep track of how slowly I can do things. I’ll be eating donuts and hot dogs at the trailheads while sitting on one of those camping chair sofas. I will hire PRs who will purposely ridicule all other PRs. I speak for several hours to get inches up the path. Chew on this course record. Let’s remove our egos from social media and just go outside for some fun already.
One of the things that first attracted me to mountain hunting was the inherent Yahoo factor. I moved to Colorado to have fun in the mountains. I grew up as a team athlete in Chicago. No question about it, I love competition and understand its appeal. But pulling the competition outside, something almost entirely geared towards having fun, seems like a step in keeping up with the Kardashians. If someone points at a person and tells me they’re at the top of the Strava rankings in town, I don’t care. I am not impressed. In fact, it will have the opposite effect. You can also tell me that it is a person leaving their shopping cart in the middle of the grocery store parking lot. I’m assuming the Townie King from Strava is actually a tail.
Consider the opportunity to have fun outdoors
You know what could be better than trying to be the best outdoor trainer in town? I’m not trying so hard to prove myself. Effort without excuse. And what’s even better than that? Going to the mountains just for fun. I know it’s a crazy concept: go outside just to have a smile and a few giggles. Hey, you might even bring some friends over and have fun together. And don’t use an app to track your activity unless that app is counting high fives and snacking. This is an app that I can get over with.
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