Strava just made a big premium feature absolutely free

Strava's Beacon safety tracking feature is now free on all phones – but smartwatch users are out of luck

Women wears headphones and is on her phone before she begins a run outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nothing beats getting outside and sweating through a hefty run after a long day. However, if you’re doing so alone you should always prioritise your safety.

The fear of danger shouldn’t put you off shoving on a pair of the best running shoes for men or best running shoes for women and getting out on a solo run. But it could be sensible for you to let family or friends track your whereabouts. This is pretty easy now that Strava have made their Beacon tracking feature, previously only available to paying members, free for everyone in the fitness app’s community.

The Beacon feature allows runners to share their live location with up to three people from the start to finish line of an activity. The user can decide themselves how they want their location to be shared. The app’s controls allow you to add ‘safety contacts’ who are notified every time you begin recording an activity on the app. Alternatively, you can manually text a link to anyone regardless if they are a recognised contact or not.

Unfortunately for those who like to go out without a phone and just wear a Garmin watch or Apple Watch (models of each device are included in our best running watch guide) you will still have to pay for Beacon, as it’s only free to use in the app. But with the app being free to download from the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch, this is still a beneficial function for many runners wishing to remain as safe as possible when exercising alone.

It’s a timely announcement, too. The Reclaim Your Run campaign, conducted by Runners World and Women’s Health, recently surveyed 2000 female runners on their feelings of endangerment on a run. Of those 2000 women, 34% said they would only run outside when it is light and 60% said they had been harassed on a run.

With this in mind, having safety measures available to all runners feels more important than ever.

Michael Horvarth, the CEO of Strava, said of the move: “Strava is a place for anyone who sweats and we want to help every athlete feel safe doing their sport.

“To better support athletes’ safety and peace of mind, we’ve decided to make our live-location sharing feature Beacon accessible to everyone in our community, whether they subscribe to Strava or not.” 

Making the Beacon tracking feature available to any Strava user is not the only attempt that the brand has made to make the app more accessible. Updated progress charts and the local legend challenges were recently made available to non-subscribers. You can read more about some of the app’s key features such as these in our ‘how to use Strava’ guide. 

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.