I Just Want Strava To Tell Me I’m Not Slowly Dying

hand-drawn chart: Vitality Over Time

You may know Strava as a fitness tracking app. Maybe you use it to keep track of your running, or bike rides, or hikes, or rollerblading. Maybe you use it as a social network, a way to keep up with your friends who also exercise. Maybe you use it to find out about local trail conditions, or to keep tabs on what your favorite superhero athletes are doing for training these days.

I use Strava for many things, but mostly I just want it to give me a sign that I’m not dying just yet.

Sometimes people say things like, “I’m not afraid to die.” Oftentimes they are men, playing a movie character who is about to do something heroic. Other times they are teenagers, and maybe not very smart, which is what I was at one time. This time seems to be growing farther and farther away in my rear view mirror. I would not say I am exactly afraid to die either, but the feeling is more like it would just be a huge bummer. Does anyone really know if there is an afterlife, and if there are breakfast burritos there?

So I run, which in theory will help me keep from dying for as long as possible, but of course you never know. If every day is:

hand-drawn chart: a simple choice (as hypothesized by andy dufresne in the shawshank redemption)

then running is one of my ways of getting busy living.

And when I run, I use Strava to track my mileage, elevation gain, pace, and a bunch of other metrics, some of which I don’t pay that much attention to because I am not THAT serious about running.

Strava also tells me how I did on certain segments of my runs, such as “Smokejumper Descent,” “Higgins to Footbridge,” and “Unnamed Rd Climb.” A couple weeks ago, for instance, I achieved my all-time personal record on a segment called University Ridge. That last performance was better than my performances on the same segment in 2021, and in 2020, when I was a younger man with slightly more elastic skin, smaller crow’s feet, and fewer gray hairs. I also don’t remember my feet being so sensitive to rocks on the trail back then.

But since I did so well on that segment last week, surely that means I am still getting faster, which means I am not quite yet entering the slow slide on the downslope into the hereafter, or into worm food, or whatever. That’s what the little gold “PR” icon means on Strava: I am not dying. Yet. Doesn’t it?

I am generally pleased with Strava. I don’t send messages to the folks who work there, asking for new features to be added (since I have no idea how coding works). But, hear me out: What about a notification when I achieve one more day of staving off my own mortality?

Every once in a great while, I get an email from Strava saying I’ve become the “Local Legend” of a certain segment, which basically means I’ve run the same route a bunch of times lately. It seems possible that Strava could also send me a quick message when I have PRed a segment—any segment, really—and thusly am still putting distance between myself and the grim reaper.

It could be just like the local legend email, but like this:

hand-edited email from Strava saying "You're not dying yet!"

Is that too heavy of a lift? Again, I know nothing about coding. I’m just a regular guy running around in the woods, hoping to keep from entering Dark Mode for as long as possible.