Image of text over a Strava activity:
(Photo: Brendan Leonard/Strava)
Semi-Rad

Strava Is for Fitness—and Sometimes Poetry

Maybe you should start writing a little something about your run, too

Image of text over a Strava activity:
Brendan Leonard/Strava
Image

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

After I got home from a run in November of last year, I typed into my phone a list of things I’d seen on my run and added it to my Strava post. I thought I might keep doing it, as an exercise in noticing things. It was nice, having a little visual journal of the ordinary sights and sounds of my afternoon jog.

Of course, I couldn’t take it seriously, and the very next run, I wrote a short poem, and put that on Strava. It went like this:

Procrastinator’s 5K

I would like extra credit

for the calories I burned

sliding around in the snow

thank you

I just kept doing it after that, every single time I recorded an activity: Short poems, long poems, none of them with any sort of real structure, but poems, about the things I see or think about when I’m out running, or hiking, or skiing. I don’t listen to music or podcasts when I run, so I have plenty of time to think. I assume there must be at least a few other people who do this same thing (Strava has 95 million users after all), but I have only heard from one other person.

When I scroll through my feed, I enjoy seeing what my friends are up to. But I really enjoy seeing what my friends are up to when they take the extra 15 seconds to use that Strava space to add in a joke, whether or not it has anything to do with what they just did on their run or ride or ski. And I think that’s a nice thing to put out into the world.

Are my Strava poems any good? I assume they are not (but maybe someone with an MFA could provide some clarity). Is this what Strava is for? Most people would say no, it is not. I don’t even know if more than a few people who follow me have noticed that I’m doing it, despite my having kept it up for almost four months now. But I’m committed.

Here are a handful of them. If you’re on Strava, you can follow me here.

Heard a crunching noise Around mile 1.5 Looked over and saw someone’s dog lying in the snow Chewing on a big stick Just having a blast As I got closer, I realized It was a deer leg Somewhat fresh, still bloody Then I thought, Did I remember to bring those Clif Bloks? Patted my shorts pocket: Yep I did
(All photos: Brendan Leonard/Strava)
Running next to the frozen river As the path turns from asphalt To ice, then snow-covered ice The slight breeze from the east chilling my cheeks Not freezing, but I’ll be glad to turn around and run home With the wind at my back A ribbon of black appears in the middle of the iced-over Clark Fork Reminding me that under the layer of ice The river is still flowing along And while I’m up here feeling like a hero For exercising in “inclement weather” The fish are floating down there like, “whatever, man”
Doing some training Using a 16-pound baby as pack weight And hiking up Water Works Hill Interesting, you might ask, what are you training for? Well, I’d reply, I am training for hiking up Water Works Hill while carrying a 17-pound baby on my back
Passing a local high school track team On the path, or getting passed by them, More accurately, I remembered all of a sudden That when I was in high school sports And we traveled for football or basketball games That sometimes someone would find an unlocked locker And steal a sweatshirt or a pair of sweatpants With the opposing team’s name on them And since we were always in the girls’ locker room The sweatshirts or sweatpants would always say “Girls Basketball” or “Girls Track” or whatever Nobody ever got caught And now I can’t for the life of me Remember a single item I ended up with Which makes me wonder Did I actually steal anything? Or just see a teammate do it? I mean, I was a real degenerate back then So I kind of assume I did Oh well, The statute of limitations is expired now And apparently so is that part of my memory
Monologue In My Head As Another Runner Approaches On The Multi-Use Path I’m on the right side Far right My right, their left Looks like they’re running on this side too Their left, my right side Do they see me coming? Ok, you see me Yeah I just typically stick to the right side, kind of like driving Are you, uh? Oh you’re going to stay on the left Your left, my right Er, should I, uh? Or are you going to … ? Getting closer You see me I’m sure Is this going to be awkward? Playing Chicken I mean, no, I’m not interested in playing Chicken But are you? I guess is what I’m asking, because I’ll just move over, unless you’re …? Ok, you’re not Moving over to my left, your right Like we’re driving in England or Ireland or Australia This is fine No problem Oh you’re moving over now too? Here we are again Hi, yup, headed right at you No worries, I’ll move back to the right side My right, your left Oh ok now you’re going that way too I’ll go back to the other — Ok, uh, the, uh, you’re, — I’ll just run over here in the grass All good
Lead Photo: Brendan Leonard/Strava
sms