The author's Strava profile

Strava is one of the best running and cycling tracking apps, but it’s also a privacy nightmare. Not only have people leaked the locations of secret U.S. military bases just by using it, but it also automatically shares your workout routes on the web. If you start at your home, anyone can figure out where you live.

Strava Is a Social Network, After All

Strava is, fundamentally, a social network for fitness fans. Sharing your location data is what allows you to compare your performance over different routes and segments with others, whether you know them or not. Tightening up your privacy settings will prevent you from using some of these social features. For example, you won’t be able to have the fastest time up that nearby hill on the publicly visible leader, so no King or Queen of the Mountain awards for you.

Also, unlike many apps that track your location, Strava really does need to know where you are to work. The problem isn’t that it’s overreaching and recording information it shouldn’t; rather, it’s that, by default, the information is being shared publicly. And, even worse, many people are unaware of that.

We’re not recommending you just block Strava from knowing your location. Instead, though, go through the following privacy settings and set them at a level you’re comfortable with.

Accessing Strava’s Privacy Settings

To access the privacy settings on the Strava website, click your profile icon at the top left. Next, go to Settings > Privacy Controls.

Click "Settings."

On the Strava app, go to the Profile tab, and then tap Settings > Privacy Controls.

Tap "Settings," and then tap "Privacy Controls."

For the most part, the settings are the same, although there are a few more options available on the website.

Changing Your Privacy Settings

The "Privacy Controls" menu in Strava.

The most important privacy settings are under “Where You Appear.” You can control who can everything listed here. By default, they’re all set to “Everyone.” Let’s take a look at each of these settings.

“Profile Page”

profile page

Your profile page has your name, location, activities, and other personal info. The two options here are “Everyone” or “Followers.”

If “Everyone” is selected, well, everyone on Strava can see a whole lot about you. According to Strava, anyone can see all of your profile details unless that person is blocked. This includes all of the following information:

  • Your profile photo and recent photos
  • Your location
  • Your bio
  • This week’s activity stats (time, distance, and elevation)
  • The last four weeks of the calendar widget
  • Clubs
  • Recent achievements
  • Your trophy case
  • Who you’re following, and who’s following you
  • KOMs/QOMs
  • Your posts
  • Your weekly/yearly goals
  • Your activity bar chart and summaries
  • Side-by-side comparison
  • Your shoes

Also, anyone can follow you without your approval and stay up to date with all your activities. Even if someone doesn’t follow you, your profile page is still visible on the web, which means anyone can see all of the following information:

  • Your full name and location
  • Your bio
  • Your trophy case
  • Your activity bar chart
  • Your total stats for the month (distance, time, and elevation)
  • Your recent achievements
  • Your year-to-date stats (distance, time, elevation, and quantity)
  • Your all-time stats (distance, time, elevation, and quantity)
  • The number of people you’re following, and the number of people following you
  • Your recent photos

If you’re concerned about your privacy, we highly recommend you select “Followers” in the “Who Can See” section, if only so you can approve new followers.

“Activities”

The "Activities" menu on Strava.

Anything you record on Strava is an activity. The setting in the “Activities” menu just changes the default privacy setting for your future activities. You always have the option to share or hide each one when you record it. The three options are: “Everyone,” “Followers,” and “Only You.”

If you select “Everyone” (the default), your activities are visible on the web if the “Who Can See” menu in your “Profile Page” is also set to “Everyone.” Otherwise, only people logged into Strava can see them. Your activities are also listed in segment and challenge leaderboards.

If you select “Followers,” only your followers can see the full details of your activities. However, other Strava members might see a summary of things like your distance and time, depending on your other settings. Your activities won’t appear on segment and challenge leaderboards, though.

If you select “Only You,” your activities are totally private; only you will see them.

Choose the option that’s most comfortable for you. You can also adjust each activity individually. If you want to use Strava’s most social features and have your leaderboard times listed publicly, though, you have to share those activities with everyone.

If you’d rather only your friends see your workouts, choose “Followers.”

“Group Activities”

If you train with others, or your route happens to overlap with someone else’s more than 30 percent of the time, and you all post your activities to Strava, they’ll be grouped together. The two settings here are “Everyone” and “Followers.”

If you select “Everyone,” anyone on Strava will see you’re part of a group workout. If you’d rather only people who follow you (or whom you follow) be able to see you’re part of a group, select “Followers.”

“Flybys”

“Flybys” is an experimental Strava feature that allows you to playback an activity and see who else was near you. If you select “Everyone,” then anyone using this feature will be able to see if you were nearby when they were working out.

If you select “No One,” you won’t appear on anyone’s Flyby, nor will you be able to use the feature yourself.

Creating Privacy Zones

The "Privacy Zones" menu in Strava.

If you want to share your activities so you can compete on leaderboards, but don’t want to risk revealing your home or work address, you can create a Privacy Zone. If your run starts or ends inside a Privacy Zone, that portion of it will be hidden from everyone else.

To create a Privacy Zone, type the address, and then click “Select Radius” to create the size of your zone. Then, click “Create Privacy Zone.” Go with a bigger zone if you live in a less dense neighborhood.

Strava automatically randomizes the shape of the zone so your exact location can’t easily be triangulated. To re-randomize the location, click “Regenerate.”

Adjusting the Privacy of an Individual Activity

You can set privacy settings for each activity. For example, you can make your best runs public, but hide your daily training sessions. To customize the settings for a specific activity, just open it in Strava, and then click the Edit icon (the pencil).

Click the Edit icon for an activity in Strava.

Under “Privacy Controls” you have the following options:

  • “Who Can See”: Determines whether “Everyone,” only your “Followers,” or “Only You” can see the activity.
  • “Hide Heart Rate Data”: This keeps your heart rate information private.

The "Privacy Controls" menu for an activity.

Editing Past Activities

If you want to change the privacy settings of past activities, go to Settings > Privacy. Under “Edit Past Activities,” select “Activity Visibility,” and then click “Next.”

The"Edit Past Activities" menu in Strava.

You can change the visibility of all past activities to “Everyone,” “Followers,” or “Only You.” Select the option you want, and then click “Next.”

The "Activity Visibility" menu.

Confirm your choice and Strava will update the privacy settings for every activity you’ve recorded. If you’ve just realized how much data you’ve been sharing on Strava, this is a great option.

How to Block Someone on Strava

If there’s someone you want to prevent from seeing any information about your activities, you can block them. Just find the person’s profile on Strava, and then click the Gear icon. Click “Block Athlete,” and then click it again.

Click the Gear icon, and then click "Block Athlete."

The Easy To-Do List

Strava’s settings are a bit convoluted and confusing. If you aren’t interested in exploring which options are right for you, you can just lock down your privacy to only followers. This means you’ll have to approve every new follower.

To do this, go to Settings > Privacy Controls. Under “Profile Page,” “Activities,” and “Group Activities,” select “Followers.” Then, set “Flyby” to “No One.”

Add a Privacy Zone around your home, workplace, and any other address you don’t want public.

Finally, to make sure none of your past activities are public, under “Edit Past Activities,” set “Activity Visibility” to “Followers.”

Now, your profile is nice and secure. And, if you have a really good run or ride and want it featured on the leaderboard, you can choose to make it public.

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.