‘You’ll never believe who just downloaded Strava?’

After my Tinder and Hinge fell into deeper depths of silence after Boris’ message to remain home, one app has taken centre stage in my daily routine. No, I’m not talking about Doodle Jump but the most downloaded free fitness app; Strava. The app is ‘designed by athletes, for athletes’ which connects runners and cyclists through the sport they love by recording activity and awarding kudos for one’s efforts. In recent weeks it has bombarded my phone every morning with notifications of new friends invading the Strava community, but why?

You guessed it …. the Coronavirus. It has changed life as we know it with people isolating indoors for the safety of public health and for some that means a lack of outside space to exercise. Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths (equal to smoking) and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone). Therefore, the government guidelines to encourage one form of exercise a day should be supported so kudos straight back at you Strava. Unfortunately, our population is around 20% less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030 so any efforts to encourage a running community could be a small but positive legacy in these dark times.

However, in Delia- a small commune in Sicily, the mayor lashed out at the people who had taken up jogging in the pandemic. Gianfilippo Bancheri claimed that there were only around 20 runners in the area and then suddenly all citizens morphed into Eliud Kipchoge (a famous runner) as a solution to combat their isolation. This mayor shares the views of many of my friends in the Strava community, with his passive-aggressive comments like “If the last time you did a bit of running was for your school cross-country, where are you going to run?” Regretfully, I agree wholeheartedly with Gianfilippo as most newcomers to Strava haven’t even dared to attempt a run. My first run on the App was a simple half mile dash to McDonalds to get there before the breakfast menu shut and then I was accepted as part of the clique. Now as a self-proclaimed Stravator I’m learning the ropes of the running community and steadily earning my kudos whilst cultivating a road etiquette in pandemic worried Edinburgh.

Pre-Covid members of Strava (you know who you are) have been entertained by the influx of rogue individuals who have clearly out of boredom got very lost on the App store. The daily notifications of budding new members have made a case for awarding a Strava equivalent of Instagram’s ‘blue tick’ to members existing prior to mid-March. These new invaders threaten to alter the status quo that original members have worked so hard to cultivate. However, as Auguste Gusteau once said, “Anyone can cook” and the same applies to running so this snobbery that the Strava community exudes is unjust. All we ask as a community is that you contribute a walk, cycle or run and get involved.

I have never considered myself a runner, in all honesty I still think of it as exercise for people that can’t play team sports. I always aspired to be the most talented sportsman, not the most committed to exercising which let’s face it running is. However, since Strava has come into my life I have generated a newfound appreciation for the rhythm and mental control that runners apply to their discipline. This admiration even led me to watch other YouTube videos of Paula Radcliffe in the street, like when she won the London Marathon for the 3rd time.

My Spotify has also had to adapt to Strava and has undergone a complete restructuring. Playlists are no longer dictated by genre, decade or artists but strictly arranged by BPM. I haven’t been able to listen to Adele in weeks as her BPM (Except Rolling in the Deep) would decrease pace and efficiency and probably result in yet more tears in Inverleith Park. However, I did discover that the 2005 Indi Rock hit ‘Everyday I love you less and less’ by the Kaiser Chiefs (160BPM) in my opinion is the best running song of all time, any other suggestions please comment. Strava is therefore a platform for expression, only a few days ago I was shown a young man who ran around his kitchen table and clocked over 5km, sensational entertainment!

Meet Will Fennell, a man who embodies the true spirit of Strava having been a member since 2014. I would urge new members to embrace this level of creativity and commitment in order to be welcomed with open arms into our Strava community. I still don’t know how I have fallen in love with this App, it’s enough motivation to push myself during a health crisis and I’ve found it a great technique to de-stress and refocus the mind whilst writing my dissertation in quarantine. I highly recommend jumping on the Strava bandwagon especially if you’re pent-up in a city flat so run, explore and enjoy the health benefits. To all members, keep giving kudos and although running isn’t as exciting as cricket take time to appreciate the simpler things in life which people who lack hand-eye try their very best at. Stay healthy, stay home and also download Beer With Me because we will all deserve multiple Frothies when we beat this.

Sending love and kudos to all, Fergus X

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