The app Strava is making it easier for people around Lincolnshire to exercise together – or against each other.
Strava allows people to record their runs or bike rides through GPS, and upload their workouts to the website.
This allows others to view and even compete against them.
Over 110 different clubs or groups in Lincolnshire use the app on a regular basis. The biggest, Lincoln Park Runners, has 421 members who have uploaded their activities.
The groups range from elite clubs, like Worksop Harriers, to casual ones like the Retired Cycling Club.
Rebecca Taylor from Lakeside Lincoln Running Club said: “Strava really encourages me to go and exercise, since I know other people in my club will be able to see it. It’s really encouraging – even if you’re doing it on your own, it feels like a social activity.”
All that users need to do is download the app onto a smartphone and ensure it was Internet connection. When they press start, it will automatically record the run or bike ride, including the distance, speed and elevation.
Users can see each other’s profile and offer ‘kudos’ on good workouts.
Part of the app’s appeal is that it allows to compare their times for the same route and awards medals for it.
One popular segment in Lincoln’s Steep Hill. There have been recorded 1,583 attempts by 519 different people; the fastest time current sits with Paul Crease, who scaled the hill in a time of 54 seconds.
There is fierce competition on the leader board for it, with other runners just seconds behind. Attempts to beat the time are still being made weekly.
The app also keeps track of personal accomplishments, such as fastest 5K or fastest mile. This encourages athletes and cyclists to improve, regardless of whether they are competing with anyone else.
There are literally thousands of segments that people can attempt around Lincolnshire. Some are short like the 200m stretch of Steep Hill, while others could be long, while others are dozens of miles.
Strava is now a key part of clubs’ marketing appeal. In order to attract new members and publicise themselves, they are staying active on the app.
James, also from Lakeside Lincoln Running Club, said: “When I moved here, I didn’t know any clubs. Instead of googling them, I checked Strava to see which clubs were most active and which distances would suit me.”
It is also useful for planning activities. People can complete a route and send it to others to ask whether they would like to do it in future.
Each club page has a leader board for who has completed most miles, most time and most elevation each week.
Several runners and cyclists I spoke to told me that the app has become a key part of the training regime and opens up the social possibilities for exercise. In what can be isolating sports, technology is bringing people together.