Running is competitive and there is always someone better out there, but some of those hard fought Strava crowns are not taken but stolen. How do we spot a cheat?

How do we know that one has not just been bested by a better runner? What if it’s just some Jeremy Ballbags recording his drive home from the gym because the watch got left on? Are you a Londoner and every day a cyclist ‘forgets’ that they’re on a bike?

It’s not always pure evildoing that causes this either. Sometimes it’s just some bad GPS data from an iPhone app, but who’s responsibility is it to right this wrong? Some people might just think their new training plan is going really well when they post 7:59 for two miles at the end of an easy run.

To makes things a little easier here are some tips to help any Strava w**kers out there spot real Strava w**kers. Whether you’re reporting or posting a walk with your cat, we’re all the same really.

Are they breaking world records?

This is often a giveaway. When someone takes your segment by minutes that has to raise a red flag straight away.

If they have seemingly run 3:02 for a mile or a 38 second 400m then suspect foul play. If it’s 4:02 or 58 seconds, check it’s not Chris O’Hare or Laura Weightman visiting your local area for a race.

You never know where a big name speedster might show up, and even on dirt roads in Portugal, you get top British runners and international athletes.

Check the name of the run

Some of the best giveaways are the name of the run.

“Super easy with Nige” isn’t going to be a record breaker, nor is “Jog to get some teabags from the shops”. Look out for “Tempo Run” or “Shiny new 5k PB” as those can be legit.

Equally, if they call the run “Great bike ride with Jenny” then there may be some issues. See also “Bus to work”.

Check that runner out

If you think they might be legit, but you’re still a bit suspicious then it’s time to do some digging. Is every other activity a bike ride? Do they have a 35 min 5k PB, but have just posted a 2:02 marathon without the help of Nike’s Sub2 project?

WARNING. At this point don’t “request to follow” anyone if you think you might be reporting them. Behaviour like this should really be done anonymously.

When you do report a run, it is anonymous thankfully. I know this because I have reported one of my own runs for leaving the watch on during the car ride home.

Be sure

Nobody wants to just go around scatter gun reporting everyone. If you’re just jealous that you’ve been beaten, then suck it up. If there is any suspicion of a real run leave it be. Another overzealous runner should come along soon to report if there is an issue.

On the runs and segments that you are convinced are illegitimate, it’s time to take the plunge and click that report button. Have your reason ready.

I’m unsure whether it’s done by a robot or millions of Strava minions waiting for reports, but try to be pleasant about it. “This isn’t Laura Muir” or “They are actually in a helicopter, see their pictures” is much more fun than “They went too fast”.

And remember…

The last bit of advice is to remember this sh*t isn’t real. Winning on Strava is not winning in real life. If you find yourself getting too caught up reporting every Tom, Dick and Harry then take a step outside the front door and go for a run.

Go do a real race. No, parkrun, whilst fantastic, isn’t a real race. If all else fails then just create a segment in your garden and no one can steal it.