Sam Uses Withings and Strava to Push Himself to Go the Extra Mile

Sam Uses Withings and Strava to Push Himself to Go the Extra Mile

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See how one of our own, Sam Archer, uses the Withings / Strava integration to the fullest.

Sam Archer's route

Since I started biking to work every day, I have been using Health Mate and my Steel HR to track pretty much every one of my bike rides. I also bike to do my errands. With about an 8-mile round-trip daily, I’m getting close to an hour a day of decent cardio—while saving myself time and money on my commute. Health Mate helps me see just how far and how fast I go on my rides, and Steel HR helps me track my heart rate during activity and make sure I’m getting a healthy amount of exercise.

I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete (the exercise I get from biking is incidental to the practical utility, for me), but riding the same route every day, something funny happened to me. I started to learn the terrain and get a feel for where I could pick up a good head of steam. Using connected GPS via Health Mate, I was able to see where I hit my top speed and just how fast it was.

This was super-cool for me. Just being able to put a number on my average and top biking speed boosted my confidence. It wasn’t that big of a surprise to see how fast and consistent biking is, but the data helped to reassure me that I hadn’t taken leave of my senses—my choice was saving me time, and I was getting stronger and faster, too. And I started to wonder…how fast am I, compared to other cyclists?

Right around that time, a friend who is also a bike commuter recommended that I try Strava, telling me, “This is the app the cyclists use.” He was right, and it wasn’t hard to see why. As soon as I had tracked two rides along the same route, Strava compared them and let me see my travel time on specific route segments, so I could see where I had gone the fastest and track my own progress. Strava gives you a little gold medal each time you top your own best time on a segment. For somebody like me who sets his steps goal to 3000 to make sure to see “GOAL” on the watch every day, this little bit of positive reinforcement really works!

Here you can see the map of my commute to downtown Boston, and a list of my ride achievements—personal best times on the segments over which I traveled. Withings just moved our Boston office to a new district, so my route to work changed, and I’m racking up little gold medals on all the brand new segments on my route!

Strava also has a huge community and amazing leaderboards. Not only could I track my own progress, my segment times were also automatically compared with every other Strava cyclist who tracked a ride on that segment.

Segments are given names by the users who mark them, and some have been given fanciful names by the locals, as with the dialectical “Glahsta ovah tah Dahtmuth on Cahm Ave” (which is non-rhotic for “Gloucester over to Dartmouth on Comm. Ave.”) Segments may overlap each other, go in every direction and over every type of terrain.

Some popular segments on my route have been tracked by tens of thousands of individual cyclists. Even though it’s not my goal to be the fastest cyclist on Strava, it’s really interesting to see how my times stack up against the community, and who is riding a similar route.

On the segment Comm.MassAve-Arlington, a mile long stretch of tree-lined avenue that leads to the Boston Public Garden, I tied for 1,263rd out of 3,882 total unique riders, at 3:33. The fastest person ever to record this segment in Strava did it one minute and thirty-nine seconds faster than me. That sounds breathtaking!

The long and short of it is that I love Strava. It’s fun, and it helps motivate me to push myself.

I just have one big problem. I’ve always used a Withings tracker and Health Mate to track my rides. I love being able to push the button on my watch and start the workout without having to take out my phone and open the app. To get the same convenience out of Strava, I would have had to buy a separate tracker, possibly one even more expensive than the Steel HR. And tracking with both apps got to be annoying. I want the data in both places, but I don’t want to add even more steps to my morning routine, or worse, forget to activate one of the apps before a good ride. Now, I don’t have that problem anymore, because Health Mate / Strava integration is here!

Now that I’ve linked my Health Mate and Strava accounts, all of my cycling activities are automatically synced to Strava, and all of the features of both apps are available at the push of just ONE button. It’s great to have my heart rate, calorie burn, and active time from cycling in Health Mate, while also being able to track and push myself on specific segments and compete with friends through Strava. If you haven’t linked your Health Mate account to Strava yet… what are you waiting for? It’s the best of both worlds!

Thanks, Sam! Want to get Strava and Health Mate linked up? Check out our post that will show you how easy it is to add Strava to Health Mate. And then join the official Withings Strava Club!

 

Sam Archer

Sam Archer is HR & Workplace Resources Manager for the Withings Cambridge, MA office. Time he saves by biking to work is spent cooking and watching Bollywood movies with his wife and their son. Follow Sam on Twitter for sporadic commentary on biking, transit, and cities.
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