I’m a sucker for gamification

I am currently in that awkward period known as ‘between marathons’ and so I have to fill the time. This time of year that usually means cycling, though I added an opportunity to be a pace bunny at a marathon in early June and complete marathon #20 in six years, so I have been running lately as well.

I use a Strava a quite a bit and have been a member since October 2010, soon after the service launched.

At some point, Strava launched a challenges feature and I have been hooked ever since. When it comes to riding, challenges include how much you climb (metres), how long you can ride (in metres), or how often you can ride (hours). As for running, challenges are often how much you can run in a month, as well as running a 10km or a half-marathon distance in a given month.

Needless to say, I often find myself putting in that extra 10-20% effort for the sake of a digital badge that goes in a digital trophy cabinet. It’s crazy but it works. I am Exhibit A when it comes to the effects of gamification, at least when it comes to physical activity. (I have no issues resisting the allures of casinos or gambling.)

This month’s challenge for cycling is to climb 6000 metres in the month of May. And so I have been making a point of seeking out hills and mountains to climb, instead of the typical flat in the Saint-Lawrence River Valley. After 1120+ metres on Monday night, I added another 720m this evening after work. Now sitting at 4816m, with a bike race this Sunday that will get me at least another 1700m, putting me over the top. My reward for all of this effort: in addition to a digital badge, I have the opportunity to buy a smoking hot pink — in honour of the Giro d’Italia— cycling jersey from Cuore of Switzerland. I have a few of their Strava challenge jerseys already and the materials and tailoring are wonderful.

Here is the jersey:


Here is tonight’s outing that got me to 80% of the way there.

Tomorrow night is all about running. There is a Strava Challenge—200 km in a month—for that too. 😉