Strava: the social media for endurance athletes

Disclaimer: I will receive an annual Strava Summit subscription and Strava merchandise to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What is Strava?

Strava is a free platform where you can track or add your runs, bikes, and swims. In short is is a social media platform for endurance athletes. You can also join virtual clubs and challenges if you are the type of person that finds extra motivation that way- I know I do! You can like each other’s activities (it’s called giving kudos) and write comments on them, similar to Facebook and Instagram.

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You can also add photos of your runs (I’m known to share  photos of my beautiful Lake Michigan lakefront runs :P) You can also find new routes, which is especially useful when traveling/running in a new location.

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How Can I get Started on Strava?

All you need to do is create a free account with a valid e-mail address or your Facebook account-it’s that easy. You do not even need a smart watch to use Strava. Something I did not know until this summer. But a lot of people connect their activity trackers to Strava anyway, especially in the running community (So many of us are rarely seen without our Garmins, even on dates. haha). I’d also recommend downloading the free iPhone or Android Strava App, so you can upload or track activities, and give kudos on the go.

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Features of Using Strava

  • Ability to transfer activities from other devices onto Strava (i.e. run with a Garmin or Suunto watch and  then upload your run to Strava)
  • Track your activity without a smart watch (I did not know Strava could do this until my Garmin died mid-run a month ago and I was able to track the reminder of my run on my smart phone via the Strava App. You can track your entire run (bike or swim) via Strava if that is your jam
  • Get awesome metrics from your workouts that you didn’t know you needed, but you’ll soon wonder what you did without them (and use them to inform training decisions):
    • Distance
    • Pace
    • Time
    • Elevation
    • Calories Burned
    • Heart Rate
    • Cadence

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  • Track your activities to see how many miles you are covering or minutes working out each day, each week, each month, and even each year. This can help you see how far you’ve come or how you’ve trained for previous races as compared to the current race you are training for
  • Track the mileage on your shoes, so you know when you need to retire your current pair and get a new one

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  • Add friends that you worked out with when they forget their watch or phone. This only works if the friend is a current Strava member. My husband did this on an easy run while ago when my Garmin watch refused to connect one run and it saved me because as many of you know, I have to keep track of my running  #typeA
  • Create groups based on running clubs, cycling clubs, swimming clubs, traithalon groups, or other common interests and run challenges within the group (i.e. highest weekly mileage or longest time spent working out). I created a group for people who have the goal of running 2019 kilometers in the year 2019 and it’s been a nice little group. Feel free to join if aren’t already in it. 🙂
  • Join challenges to keep you motivated. Each month I join the monthly 5k and 10k challenge at least, but then they have many other ones from climbing to cycling to virtual races. Earn trophies when you complete the challenges!

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  • No matter where you live, there are sections of road or trail where people run frequently and there is a leaderboard showing how fast people have run those segments. So if you are competitive (like me 🤣) you can try to be the leader of the segment! Strava will automatically rank you anytime you run a segment. Even if you are not the leader, it is interesting to compare what time you’ve run on that segment at different points of the year or during previous years. Segments are all in good fun!
  • Privacy filters, so people cannot see where you live if you frequently run from your home
  • Advanced Strava features for a good price through Strava Summit. Some of the features of Summit include: weekly goal setting, training plans, workout analysis, just to name a few.

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So what are you waiting for? Join Strava today! Or if you are currently on Strava share your profile below if you want me to follow you! 

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Taking the “dread” out of dreadmill: a review of the Zwift run pod

Disclaimer: I received the Zwift Shoe Pod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews.

Even though I had been nursing an injury since the Chicago Marathon nearly three months ago, I was excited when BibRave asked me if I wanted to try the Zwift Shoe Pod and Zwift app. At minimum I knew it would make my walking/cross training a little less boring and at maximum I thought it could give me the courage to test out my injury and try running on the treadmill! I am happy to report that it helped me accomplish both of those things! 🙂

But, you are probably less interested in my injury recovery and more interested in how the Zwift Run Pod actually works 😉 This is a review after all and not a diary about my injury 😛 Although, if you want to read about my training in greater detail follow me on Instagram or Strava!

So, first things, first! Here’s how to install your shoe pod and get ready for your first treadmill run:

  1. Take the shoe pod out of the box and install the battery. It takes a little elbow grease to assemble, but if my little arms can do it, I promise yours can too! 😉
  2. Attach the shoe pod to your shoe laces at the third lace from the bottom as shown below, Make your you hear a CLICK, so your known your shoe pod is firmly in place!

3. Create a free Zwift account.

4. Download the Zwift app on your phone, tablet, computer, or other device you plan to use with you on the treadmill and log in. I also recommend the Zwift Companion app, so you can chat with people and cheer them on as you run (the chat options on the normal Zwift app are a bit limited).

Both apps are free! The only thing that is not free is the shoe pod, but I am sharing a discount with you below, so stay tuned. 🙂

5. Pair the Zwift Shoe pod with the Zwift app

6. Once paired you are ready to run on the treadmill! I recommend going through the Zwift 101 pre-set training run to get better acquainted with the app. Note: the avatar is pre-selected for you based on height, weight, etc., but the more you run, the more you can customize your avatar. Before the first run all it let me change my my socks. I thought my avatar looked a little bit like me on the first try, though. 😛

Now you are ready to run around the world without leaving the comfort of your home or gym treadmill! You can do a pre-set training run, create/host your own event, or join someone else’s. Zwift is a fun way of having a run date with your favorite running buddy that is not local and pushing each other to finish the run!

My favorite Zwift run was the BibRave group 5k, because I was able to run with my team even though we were all physically in different places. It was my first run back post injury, so most of it was a walk, but I had a blast and was happy to have been able to celebrate such a huge milestone with some of my favorite running buddies, rather than by myself.

Heck, I’m not sure I would have even tried running as soon as December 18, 2018 if it weren’t for the group run. I’m glad I did because as of today (Jan 2, 2019), I’m feeling brave enough to attempt 2 miles and the Zwift run app will make my treadmill run less lonely and more fun. I’m so happy I have the Zwift run pod and app to take the “dread” out of dreadmill and make my return to running and beyond a fun experience!

So, are you intrigued?! Want to try Zwift run for yourself? You could even run with me 😉 Use the discount code BibRave15 for 15% off the cost of the Zwift RunPod on the Zwift website (Note: discount is only good for first 1000 Pods ordered with the code).

Do you like running on the treadmill? Have you tried Zwift before?! I’d love to virtually run with you, so let me know your Zwift user name below or contact me and we can set up a run!

Still not convinced?! See what other BibRave Pros have to say about the Zwift Run Pod:

Amanda S.

Barb

Ben

Emily

Janelle

Jeff

Jon

Linda

Mike

Nicole

Renee


Illinois half marathon training week 10

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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Good evening friends! I can’t believe we are 11 days away from race day! 😱

I am definitely getting nervous because it’s my 1st big post-college race, but I also feel prepared. This training cycle started out rocky with my crazy schedule during my temporary teaching job, but getting a coach a month ago has been a game changer. Plus, my teaching job is over now, and although I am working two part time jobs, I have been able to train more consistently than when teaching. And I’m just generally happier and more motivated about training because now I am on a path to pursuing my passions. 😍

I sometimes have to be creative about when to fit in my runs, though, because some weeks I work mornings/days and other weeks I have to work evenings/nights. Regardless, the change in jobs has allowed me to run more often with others, go to fun events, and meet new people as you will see in this week’s training recap. I even hit my highest weekly mileage since college over the last two weeks. 30 miles per week may not seem like much, and I was running more in college, but I’m just so happy to be running injury free again! 🙂 So without further ado let’s get to the recap!

Week 10: Monday April 9th -Sunday April 15th

Monday April 9th: My friend Ben has a somewhat a flexible work schedule and I was off work, so he came to Chicago to run 5.1 miles (7:47 pace) with me. Afterwards, I took him to one of my favorite coffee shops. He’s silly and got a cold drink even though it was chilly and it had snowed earlier in the day! I got an oat milk chai and I would 10/10 recommend. It was fun to spend the afternoon running and talking to another fellow running nerd. I’m grateful for all the awesome people I have met through Bibrave!

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-Tuesday April 10th:  I ran 4.5 miles with some 6x 30 second strides at 6:16 pace mixed in. Then, I went to one of my favorite Thai places to finally meet up with Danielle in real life. We had been following each other on social media/our blogs for a while and talking nearly every day prior to dinner about all things running, health, and nutrition, so I was not scared at all to meet up! The two and half hours really flew by at dinner and I cannot wait for more adventures with another fellow future RD!

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-Wednesday April 11th: I helped lead an easy 3.1 mile evening fun run with Scott Jurek and then attended a question/answer session and book signing. It was amazing and honestly I’m still star struck that I met one of my favorite runners in real life! I cannot wait to read North, his newest book! It was worth the long line to get it signed and have him write personal note to my husband, who was coaching track and unable to attend the event.

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-Thursday April 12th: A while ago Katie messaged me saying she’d be in Chicago for a business trip and asked if I’d want to run this week. Katie is another runner that I connected with through Instagram. We decided to run together on Thursday. We ran 5 miles at an easy pace (7:53/ mile) along the Lakefront Path. The weather was amazing and actually spring-like, unlike Monday when it snowed. The miles flew by far two quickly and we bonded over being former division 1 runners and our love of training/racing even in our busy adult lives. I hope we can run again soon! I love how social media and this blog has connected me to so many amazing people.

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-Friday April 13th: REST DAY. Spent some time doing yoga and foam rolling because it was much needed.

-Saturday April 14th: 12 miles at 7:53 pace. This was supposed to be a hard workout within my long run, but the freezing, windy, rainy weather made that tough. I did the best I could, but only completed 4 of the 6 tempo miles. It’s tough when you are supposed to run 3 miles at 7:00-7:15 pace, 2 miles at 6:49 pace and 1 mile at 6:49 pace or faster and you know you can hit all those paces, but running into the crazy headwind you get a 7:09 as your fastest… My husband was helping me pace the workout (all my paces are easy for him because he is super speedy) and together we decided the time on my feet was much more important than hitting the paces. We decided to just finish the run as a regular long run rather than tempo more into the crazy wind. I was super frustrated on Saturday, but now reflecting back on the day I am proud I got my long run done! It would have been easy to turn around, head home, and throw in the towel.

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-Sunday April 15th: REST DAY.

WEEKLY TOTAL:  29.7 miles

Tonight’s question: Are you racing this month? If not, want to last minute join me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

What time of day do you run?!

If I were to pick any time of day to run, I would run during the afternoon.🌞 Hands down! Afternoon runs remind me of my high school and college running days…just as the day was getting long, I would have scheduled break around 3-330 pm to look forward to. 🙂 Gosh I miss those days! Before afternoon practice, I was well fueled from breakfast and lunch, and then the run would rev my appetite for dinner. Also, the afternoon practices (unless they were really strenuous) would give me a second burst of energy without another cup of coffee.  After an afternoon practice, I felt ready to tackle my long list of homework, assignments, study sessions, work etc.

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Nowadays I do not have the flexibility of afternoon runs except on the occasional weekend day (like above). 😦 I work full time and commute one hour each way.  I’d give anything to leave my desk for an hour in the middle of the day for an afternoon run. :/  I honestly think I’d return to work much more productive after an afternoon run.

So, what have I been doing lately? Well….I’ve been running in the evening/at night. Unfortunately, the days are getting shorter and the time I leave work is not always predicable- it depends on the day’s projects.  I don’t run in the mornings as often, because of my commute time and I like to ease into the work day with a hearty breakfast. I’m not the kind of girl who can just dash out the door after a workout and quick shower with a granola bar. Your girl here needs to EAT! If I don’t eat eat a good breakfast I feel terrible at work, honestly. Team breakfast all the way! 🍓🍳🥞

Anyway, I’m starting to worry about my options for when to run as the days get shorter. It’s almost that time of year when it is dark when I wake up and when I leave work for the night. Not running is not an option on most days…I tried that lifestyle for a lot of 2016 by choice and part of 2014/2015 due to injury and it was not for me…Plus, I am training for a half marathon in November.💪🏻🏃🏼‍♀️

All I know, is that I am happiest and healthiest (physically and mentally), when I am running and sharing my passion for it with others.  Running and nerding out about running is what makes me, me! I even met my now husband through running in high school, but that is a tale for another day. 😛

When do all of you run?! I only have myself to worry about, but I know some of you out there have families, work full time, AND run! How do you do it? When do you run? What time of day would you run if you could at any time? Comment 👇🏻