There’s a saying in endurance circles, “If it’s not on STRAVA then it didn’t happen”, such is the power and the influence of the orange website of pain on cyclists ( mostly ) and runners, not to mention deviant triathletes who embrace the league tables like a government education minister. It even has it’s own secret language: KOMS, QOMS, segments, kudos and suffer scores make it sound like something from a dodgy movie. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve a new found love of all things orange since returning from injury but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m the only user of Strava that isn’t a Segment Tart?
What the hell is a Segment Tart I hear you say? Well it’s a person that chases segments on strava, destroying themselves for 100m or any distance really that equates to a registered route – see image below for some examples on a map.
I have friends that will deliberately go out and run or ride a certain route having found out there is a segment there, they have studied the map, they know the exact point at which to go hell for leather to make it onto that segments league table. It is that little section that counts, the rest of the session almost seems secondary. People take these things very seriously, people have been known to keep their phones / gps switched on whilst in a car so that they can get a KOM – King of the Mountain on a segment. Sad cheating bastards if you ask me but whatever floats your boat.
A segment tart may not be able to find their way around town but you can guarantee that they can tell you where the nearest segment is, it’s like they have a sixth sense, sniffing out the invisible road marker that says “This is the point where you start to enter the puke zone” and the one further down the road that offers relief “It’s ok Buttercup you can ease off now, know one gives a sh*t about this part of the road.”
Are Strava segments changing the way we train?
What about Segment envy? Are people getting despondent, feeling inadequate because no matter how hard they ride or run they can’t break the top 50 on a certain segment. There’s a great t-shirt that proclaims “Strava made me dope”, amusing yes but you can read the underlying sentiment behind it. Mere mortals can’t keep up with the gods that claim the mountains.
Maybe it’s because I’m slow that I don’t really care for segments. Maybe it’s because I’m focussed on what I as an individual have to do. Maybe it’s because I’ve never actually experienced the ‘thrill’ of owning a segment, being the virtual top dog. Maybe I’m just not wired that way. Now don’t get me wrong I have the upmost respect for the fast riders and runners that dominate these league tables and yes I would one day just for the sake of pure ego love to take a KOM but I know my limitations as they stand and at the moment I’d be in the relegation zone of any league table. And I’m fine with that.
I love using Strava, I can quickly see the data of my efforts, I can track what my friends and club mates are doing and marvel with envy at how fast and strong they are. I love the fact that I can comment or give kudos ( virtual praise, a bit similar to likes on Facebook ) as they encourage me, and hey any sort of encouragement is always cool. But for now you can keep your segments, I’m much too slow for those. I’ll just log the miles, look at the metrics and slowly but surely see my progress. I’m quite happy being the tortoise because in the not too distant future I’ll beat the hares.
Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to be a Segment Tart but for now I’ll just be a Strava toddler, learning to run and cycle slowly without crashing.