Social Media for Runners with Strava Co-founder Mark Gainey

Mark Gainey – Social Media For Runners

This week we hear from Mark Gainey, co-founder and Chairman of Strava, the social network for athletes.

Founded in 2009, millions of athletes worldwide have joined Strava for the ability to track and share their fitness activities as a community whether they are running, cycling, hiking, racing, skiing, swimming or just working out.

Runner, cyclist, fitness enthusiast. Lifelong athlete.

Mark is a runner, cyclist and fitness enthusiast. He started as a youth soccer player, later moving to cross country in high school, winning the individual State Championship as a Senior. After a collegiate career as a rower, Mark returned to running in the 1990’s and has participated in local 10k’s, marathons and an IronMan and has completed the Chicago, New York and Boston Marathons. He now has his sights set on an Ultra Marathon.

In this episode we learn how and why Strava was developed and has evolved over time and why so many athletes choose to connect through its website and app. Strava is device-agnostic, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a GPS watch just to use it.

Notable Strava users

Mark mentions some notable Strava users, but some he didn’t mention include NASCAR drivers (7-time champion) Jimmie Johnson, (2003 Champion) Matt Kenseth, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; former MLB player, Barry Bonds; fashion model, Candice Huffine; and former New England Patriots linebacker, Tedy Bruschi.

Log in to Strava and search for your favorite celebrity or local athletes to follow and enjoy all that Strava has to offer.

Questions Mark is asked:

3:10 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance or type of race?

4:09 What is Strava and what does it do?

5:21 What does the name ‘Strava” mean?

5:48 What prompted you to start an online social network for athletes?

8:57 Will Strava track every activity automatically or do some have to be entered manually?

10:44 Is Strava deliberately user-friendly?

11:43 How can average athletes get the most out of Strava?

13:34 Can you follow other athletes without sharing your own activities?

15:05 How could you search for a ‘50 year-old father of twins”?

15:32 What’s the difference between the free and premium versions of Strava?

18:01 How does Strava differ from apps like Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal?

20:38 How does your corporate background benefit Strava?

23:37 How long did you live in Reno?

24:44 Who are some of the notable people who are involved with, or you can follow, on Strava?

26:27 What is Strava’s relationship with Lululemon and what about the event you’ve partnered with them?

28:12 Is your office in San Francisco, CA now?

28:50 What is the employee fitness structure like at Strava?

30:29 What’s in the works for Strava in the future?

31:52 What skill sets do you look for for new employees?

33:34 How do you stay in communication with your global workforce?

34:05 Are you currently training for an Ultra and, if so, which one?

36:15 How do you personally use Strava?

38:35 Is it fun for your kids to be on Strava, too?

39:08 What else would you like to share with us?

42:30 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite running book(s)?
  3. Words of Wisdom or Humor?
  4. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by Mark:

“Strava is now in excess of over 200 different devices that you can connect to Strava. We decided that we were going to be Switzerland; rather than be in the device business ourself, let’s just make sure that we can work with everybody.”

“Strava should be fun if you’re on it by yourself. Decide how you want to participate.”

“I remember how fast I was when I was 25 years old, but what’s relevant to me is: How does my information today match with what others are doing in my age group, or weight class, or in my neighborhood?”

“We lean heavily on this notion of what it is to connect with other athletes. There are hundreds of thousands of clubs on Strava that allow you to connect with friends and comrades and teammates.”

“Someone said to me just the other day that they downloaded the other apps, but they JOINED Strava.”

“The really great stories are the tens of millions of folks worldwide who have found Strava and they might be doing their first 5k, but they’re as committed and dedicated as that Olympic athlete.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

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Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

Strava homepage


New York Road Runners

Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon

Hamms Gulch Trail – Portola Valley, CA

Book: Fast After 50 by Joe Friel

RunnersConnect Strava Running Club

Body Glide

Follow Mark on:

E-mail Mark

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