When I started triathlon, Strava was the first app I downloaded. I was looking for a platform where my friends and I could record and share our activities. After using it for several years, I got a good grasp of how triathletes can use it.
CAN STRAVA TRACK TRIATHLON?
Strava cannot track a triathlon on its own due to the need for a phone. Triathletes must first record the triathlon using a multisport watch and then upload this activity to the app. Strava will show the triathlon race as 5 separate activities (swim+T1+bike+T2+run).
For triathlon training, you can use Strava for recording your bike and run workouts. Although the option is available for swimming, I don’t really see how it can be used (apart from letting your phone in a buoy…).
All triathletes I know record their activities with a multisport watch. There are a few features you should definitely look for. My wife wrote an article about them: The Right Time To Buy A Triathlon Watch And What You Should Look For
IS THE STRAVA SUBSCRIPTION WORTH IT?
The subscription version of Strava is great for athletes who want to use only one platform for training, racing, and seeing their friends’ activities. It currently costs $7.99/month (or $5/month when subscribed annually).
For athletes who are already using different platforms, the choice of upgrading will really depend on what you are currently missing and if Strava can fill this gap.
I sometimes subscribe to Strava premium to have new route ideas or access their live segment functionality. I don’t really need the other features as they are already covered (and often in more detail) in some other apps I use.
See below a quick overview of the two versions of Strava:
DOES STRAVA HAVE TRIATHLON TRAINING PLANS?
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Strava, unfortunately, doesn’t have any triathlon plan. They have cycling and running plans, which can be accessed with their subscription model. I played a bit with the running ones during my off-season, but I would not recommend combining the running and cycling ones. I find the intensity to be simply too high.
There are plenty of triathlon training plans available online, both free or premium. For beginners, I would personally recommend the book “Your First Triathlon” by Joe Friel (Amazon affiliate link), which has different plans based on triathlon distance but also on your strongest/weakest discipline.
For intermediate and advanced triathletes, I would recommend the Trainerroad app (no affiliate link), which I currently use for my training plan, or Trainingpeaks (no affiliate link), which has thousands of triathlon plans.
HOW TO CONTROL YOUR PRIVACY ON STRAVA?
If you always start your workouts from your home, there is a good chance that all your GPS routes will converge to your home address. By setting up a privacy zone, Strava will hide this information from other athletes. You will still be able to see the entire map.
Under Settings -> Privacy controls -> Map visibility, you have the choice between three options:
- Hide a specific location like I did below.
- Always hide the start and finish no matter where it is
- Hide the entire map
HOW I PERSONALLY USE STRAVA
Even though I am on Strava pretty much every day of the year, I changed how I am using the app over time. The main attraction of Strava has always been, for me, the social aspect of it. I find it really motivating to see my friends’ rides, receive kudos, or compete on some specific segments.
As I have a really competitive mindset, I was chasing pretty much all segments around me, and I wanted to give my best on all workouts I was doing. Well, apart from swimming, where my best and worst performances were actually pretty much the same 🙂 It took me several months to realize that I would be better off training following a specific plan and stick to the prescribed pace. After all, it is only on race day that the pace really matters.
Currently, I am using the free version of Strava the majority of the time for seeing the rides of my friends and the pro I respect and register to the premium version when I want to chase a specific segment or explore new routes.