Strava has updated its Maps tool with a new feature that highlights useful facilities that you might need during a run or bike ride. Points of Interest will identify things like public toilets, bike shops, water refill points, and places where you can grab a snack to refuel.
Most mapping tools (including those from Google and Apple) are built around the assumption that you're driving, and highlight facilities that'll be useful for motorists. Strava's Points of Interest are tailored for athletes travelling on foot or bike, and you can plan your course around them.
Strava has been hard at work building up its subscription service in recent months, but much like Strava Beacon, which lets you share your live location with friends and family, Points of Interest will be free for everyone.
From today (January 13), you'll be able to see Points of Interest on Strava's base maps in the mobile app, or in your browser. If you need to take a break mid-run, you can use the app to plot a detour to a store or facility to refresh or refuel.
Points of Interest is included in app version 233 and higher, so if you can't see it, check that you're using the latest update.
Analysis: avoiding the bonk
Points of Interest sounds extremely helpful, and it's great to see that Strava is making important health and safety features available to all its users, not just those with a paid subscription.
A map specifically designed for athletes isn't just convenient – it should also help keep you safe. If you've ever headed out on a long training session without sufficient fuel, you'll know just how awful it feels to bonk or hit the wall. It's a sudden feeling of fatigue that hits you when your muscles run out of glycogen. When it happens, falling asleep in the nearest hedge suddenly seems incredibly tempting, and getting home can be a genuine challenge.
Thanks to Strava's new Points of Interest, that should hopefully become a thing of the past, as you'll be able to plan a cafe break, or make a quick detour to grab something sugary en route before your tank runs dry.
Dehydration is another big risk if you misjudge the weather, or have increased your training intensity without factoring in the extra fluid loss, Having stores and water refill stops marked clearly on a map will allow you to keep yourself hydrated even if you didn't plan perfectly, ensuring you stay safe and comfortable.
It's extremely important to plan carefully, and either take enough fuel and water for your workout, or make sure you pass locations where you can top yourself up, but emergencies do happen, and Points of Interest could make the difference between a miserable crawl home and a strong, comfortable finish.
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