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Emoji connect Strava athletes around the globe. Like sport, they need no introduction and no explanation. They can explain emotions we don’t have the words for – post-race joy, or post-workout exhaustion – and give us the ability to communicate across languages, boundaries, and sports. From one side of the globe to the other, Strava athletes use emoji to express themselves. You don’t have to speak French or Japanese to know what a smiley face, flame or thumbs up means. And that’s why we love them!

In July, the Strava community were talking about the record high temperatures that swept the globe. Athletes experience the changing seasons as acutely as anyone, so the heat was certainly on people’s minds. In the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Canada, ☀ was the most popular emoji – a sure sign that July was a scorcher. Which, of course, was true. In fact, 2018 is shaping has been one of the hottest years on record.

In Japan, the sweat emoji took top spot. It might not have been sun, sun, sun but it was sweat, sweat, sweat thanks to incredibly humid conditions. Kudos to everyone who made it out for a sweaty workout!

 

Emoji can teach us about more than just the weather.

The third and fourth most popular emoji in Japan were the exclamation mark and the musical note. In Japan athletes like to add emoji in text conversations to show emotion. Even if a word looks stiff in the text, emoji can make it softer and more animated. It seems the frequent use of the exclamation mark and the musical note on Strava are an indicator of the emotion athletes invest in sport.

Emotions must have been running high in France because French athletes used emoji more often than any other nationality in July. They were almost three times more likely to use an emoji compared to American athletes.

 

 

With the Tour de France and a Football World Cup victory for Les Bleus in July, it is hardly surprising emotions were at a peak. The French flag was used more than twice as often in July as compared to June.

 

 

 

But when it comes to emotions, surely nothing is more certain to dial up an athlete’s emotions than race day. Activities tagged as races are more than twice as likely to contain an emoji. And marathons are three times more likely to contain an emoji. Pass the post-race tissues.

Emoji usage at races suggests that competing is about celebration and personal achievement. The celebration emoji crops up four times more often in races, while the medal is used a whopping eleven times more often! You’re all winners in our mind!

 

It turns out the sport you participate in also influences the way you use emoji.

When you’re moving as fast as cyclists do, even a slight breeze can feel like a gale. The wind emoji appears in the top ten emoji for cyclists but doesn’t register when it comes to runners. We estimate 50% of those uses are athletes complaining about a headwind. Which we reckon is fair enough!

For runners, three of the top five most popular emoji were related to heat. With the sweat droplets and sweat smile also making an appearance in the top ten, it is clear runners have been really feeling the heat. There’s no question that running is hot work.

 

The dog emoji is another runners’ favorite. They are nine times more likely to use it compared to cyclists. We reckon that means squirrel sightings not heart rate zones are setting the pace. We can’t help but wonder how many runners ended up being chased by stray dogs – it’s an occupational hazard!

Emoji are a great way to express an emotion that words can’t capture. Or you can just hide behind a pair of sunglasses so nobody can really see what you’re thinking… 😎 was the most popular facial emoji on Strava in July. We knew Strava athletes were a cool bunch!

So maybe emoji are actually a secret window into athlete emotions, who knew? Or they’re just great fun! Either way we know one thing: emoji are here to stay. They seem to be the perfect way to sum up a sweaty run, windy bike ride or epic race.

What is your favorite emoji?

Let us know in the comments below.