Is an app like Strava or Garment Connect the same as larger and more established mainstream social networks? In short, I don’t think so. I’m not using the social functions very much. Instead, I prefer to use the app as a data collector/record keeper. And while much has been written about the idealized portrayal of our life on Facebook much less has been written about people who cheat the fitness app to look better. Is that to say that posting pictures of my vacation in Maui is cheating? No. To put my gps tracker in the car and then drive a Strava segment to get the best time is cheating. To leave out the moments of my vacation that were less than ideal or boring, that’s showbiz.
However, what I like about using Training Peaks and all apps for that matter, is that you get full disclosure of your fitness day. At least in my circle of friends on Facebook, it’s totally unacceptable to me for you to post the ugly parts of my life publicly (do this privately to the friends who can help). That is not to say that millennials may be more comfortable with it because we have gotten more accustom to the medium. But, with a fitness app, it’s all out there. How far? How fast? How hard? Training Peaks allows me to see the truth – the basic facts about my activity for the day which I can then compare to other days with similar or other activities. Is running or mountain biking harder? For example.
In this way, I compare myself to myself and not to others. Was I fast or slow? Was this a hard day or an easy day. Some apps have taken these numbers and allowed other users to view them on a board, if you will, providing other users the opportunity to compare themselves to other riders who want their data out there and to virtually compete with them. And that’s fine for some. I might guess that the people at the top of these boards are also on top of the local races as well but given all the variables encountered during any kind of race, I would think that the only way to truly compete would be to go at it head to head, face to face, at the same time.
For me, my fitness is about setting a good example for my kids who might be competitive one day, staying healthy for my family, keeping my weight down and my energy up. You know? That’s not to say that I’m not going to try and learn everything I can from the pros. I am. But their workouts and their data is not going to match mine. So their prescriptions are not always going to work for me. That’s why I like to keep my own records and examine my own body and how it reacts. It’s fun.