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Blog Post By: Pat Stephens, D&L GIS Analyst
I should start, and be honest, by admitting that I wouldn’t call what I do training. When the weather is nice, I have the free time, and I am not sore, I go for a run. I try not to use the word “training” because it is often associated with work. In other words, one needs to train opposed to one wants to go for a nice breezy recreational run where one is not obsessing over time and distance. It’s just a matter of perspective.
Yet, since I am a geography nerd and a millennial, I have recorded nearly every run and bike ride that I have done in the past year. I did it all with one of my favorite apps, STRAVA. STRAVA has, for better or worse, turned roads and trails into time trials for anyone with the application. The app, which tracks your movement through GPS, records your track, time, elevation gain, pace, and even calories burned! The only input parameters are age, weight, height, and your GPS track (latitude, longitude, and elevation). I apologize if this sounds like an advertisement, but this is the kind of app I have been waiting for since I was 16.
And, like any good app, it incorporates a social media element which allows you to compare your times on user created segments with your friends and anyone else who has the application. STRAVA, as of October 24, 2016, has about 8.2 million users, which has resulted in the entire world becoming a race track for users to battle for the fastest times. This app has made it possible to train and play simultaneously and all there is to do is carry your phone.
Therefore, rather than training, I look at my runs and rides more like races in a giant virtual race. This keeps me competitive even when I am by myself. And, unbeknownst to many users, we are contributing to a global database of trails and road alignment that helps cartographers (like me), city planners, and anyone who knows how to use the data! And if you think I am a lone nerd using this app, look at this snapshot data visualization of GPS points recorded while using STRAVA. Can you find the D&L Trail?