If you are a runner, you should consider running ‘naked’ (meaning without using a smartwatch or fitness tracker (not to be confused with running without clothes on — don’t do that)).
Yes, I said it. Don’t record your run. Don’t share it. Run for yourself, not for your followers. Since Strava was founded in 2009, millions of runners (and cyclists) worldwide have shared billions of activities on the social networking platform. Kudos to you all! But is it good for your mental health?
When I trained for my third ultramarathon earlier this year, I ran with several runners and noticed something peculiar. If we had set out to do 20 miles, one runner would cut it short if her smartwatch did not have enough battery to record the entire run. Another would delete any runs that were ‘rubbish’ (her word, not mine). Some runners admitted to ‘cheating’ on their Strava by entering manual activities they had not done to keep their stats stable during an injury period.
Most use Strava without any issues. Some don’t pay any attention to stats, feedback, or number of kudos. But more worryingly, they also pay little attention to when they are ‘overachieving’. These features are built in to prevent users from injuring themselves. But what I noticed among my community of runners was that health-related warnings were consistently ignored. One ran an ultramarathon with a fracture because ‘you can’t just record half a race!’.
When an app designed to keep you physically active starts to impact your mental health, it’s time to delete the app. Out of the 20 runners I asked, only one would be willing to run without recording the activity…
But if you’re not ready to delete, or disconnect, Strava quite yet, and you don’t think you have developed a dependency on it, it should be no issue for you to run naked. If you can’t, it might be time to look at whether it is doing you more harm than good.