The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Way back when I first started using Strava, I came across this excellent post on Reddit by Jimmy Daly (not a source I link to often … Reddit, that is). In it, he describes how he exported all his Strava runs to Airtable and uses IFTTT to add any new ones (his base is listed here).

I am perpetually dissatisfied with training logs. For years, I used notebooks, then Google Spreadsheets and more recently have relied on Strava to track all my runs. And as great as Strava is, there are a few things that really bug me:

  • You can't categorize your runs (long run, intervals, hills, etc.)
  • You can't easily filter out important runs (like races)
  • You have to pay for some basic features (like training plans)

I love my Garmin and I love Strava, but I wanted a better way to track and analyze all the data, so I've been working on a better training log using Airtable. I used the Strava API to import a few years of running into Airtable, then started slicing and dicing. I then setup IFTTT to send new runs from Strava to Airtable.

I immediately loved the idea and started to test it out myself. Unfortunately, I could never get the IFTTT applet to work: it always errors out. And when this scenario happens, you quickly learn how bad of an experience IFTTT can be when your services do not play nicely together.

After several attempts over a few months, I gave up on the idea. But it kept coming back to me, specifically because of the second reason he mentions here. It’s a pain in the butt to find my PRs.

So I finally started from scratch building my own running log.

My running log in Airtable

I had to sit down and ask myself what I wanted from such a thing. I came up with the following:

  • The ability to review all my runs and sort them by various criteria
  • To quickly see my PRs in different lengths
  • To track my goals and see progress for each
  • To have runs where I establish a new PR automatically populate a Day One entry
  • To track how I feel for any run where I want to make a note of it
  • Ideally, this is all populated automatically (except for the parts that have to be manually)

At this point, I have two IFTTT recipes for my runs. One populates an entry in my Day One running journal. The other adds a task to my Things inbox to log the run. I still cannot get Airtable to take my activities from Strava via IFTTT and contacting IFTTT support was not any help.

But since I have to manually add some information anyway, taking five minutes 3–4 times per week is not a problem. It's not perfect yet (it's not automated at all and I do not track my goals in it), but it's far better than searching through all my activities in Strava.