So, Vic’s outed our unofficial TN Editors’ race on September 16. What he didn’t mention though is that two of us who are signed up for the race were told about it after someone else signed us up!
Anyway, we took it as a challenge and went about preparing for the race to try and earn some jock cred, and maybe improve our geek cred as well.
Step one: Do a search of the iTunes store for apps that might be of help in training. Over the course of several weeks, I’ve built up the following arsenal:
Step two: sign up for running social network. Everyone knows geeks love data more than chocolate or ice cream (except maybe a Magnum Almond bar). This is where Runkeeper and Endomondo come in. I had been using Runkeeper for more than a year, but because I never managed to settle into a regular running routine, I never got into the social aspect of the running community on Runkeeper.
Most of the other runners joining the race were on Endomondo, so I ended up signing up for an account and getting the Pro version of app. As a running aid (if you don’t mind running with your phone; or you can use a Garmin watch and upload the data later), Endomondo provides you with your progress in terms of the duration of your run, the distance covered (as well as the route you follow, on a map), the calories burned so far, your heart rate (if you use a heart rate monitor), and your average speed. It also gives you voice cues every kilometer (distance, lap time). At the end of your run (or bike ride, or walk, or whatever activity you’re engaged in), you have a summary of your workout, which you can share with the rest of the community on Endomondo or only with selected friends. And this is where it really got interesting for me.
I could see data from my friends’ runs. And they could see mine. And when performance data like that becomes semi-public, no one wants to be kulelat. Imagine the pressure!
There were days when I didn’t feel like running, but I saw that a couple of friends did their runs the same day and improved on some of their best times (e.g., best time for a kilometer, or for 5 km), and you just feel the pressure not to get left behind. And friends who log on and see that you’ve just started to run can cheer you on with real-time audio cues.
The more interesting conversations, though, happen in a private group in a chat app, where lighthearted jeering goes on, as well as a lot of talk about pro tips from the more experienced runners.
Step three: Keep running Running can be a solitary sport, but it’s easier when you run with friends, whether IRL or virtually, through a site like Endomondo or Runkeper, or some other group chat app. It’s nice to have gadgets that help you log all the data you need to see how you’re doing and how you can do better, but in the end it’s the company and encouragement of your friends that really matter.
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