A running app I actually like and OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, THERE’S NEWS!

In Barefoot running, Luna sandals, Running, Running apps by All This Running AroundLeave a Comment

Hey, hi! You’re looking fantastic today. Is that a new haircut, or are you just pleased to see me? (Your hair is erect.) That shirt really brings out your eyes, as in literally brings them out so that they hang from stalks like that bit in that film with her out of Prime Suspect. Have you lost weight? No? Actually, no, having had a proper look I can see you definitely haven’t. Well, like, whatever! You still look fantastic! What’s that? Why am I in such a good mood? Well, because good things are happening, THAT’S WHY. What follows is a tiny round up of some, if not all of those things.

The first good thing that happened recently was that I was directed to a running app that works precisely how I want a running app to work. I’ve been using Strava for a little over a week, and it’s already rendered Runmeter completely redundant. I started using Runmeter in November last year. I’d always meant to write something about it on here but never did, and I guess the reason for that is because I was never that impressed with it. That’s not to say it’s a bad app; the interface was pretty good, the GPS was accurate and quick, and there are plenty of features. The issue I had was that it’s not linked to a website, it’s designed to run solely from your iPhone (or whatever). And to be honest, I’m not really someone that likes to spend too much time fiddling about with my iPhone, so it was only really of use immediately after a run, when I could check time, pace, compare against previous times and so on. But that would be it.

Strava (www.strava.com/) works differently. The app itself is (unlike Runmeter) completely free to download. You then need to register yourself at Strava’s website, which is also free and takes just a few moments. (You have the option to register and log in with your Facebook profile, but I preferred to set up a separate account.) And that’s it, no payment, no subscription, you’re ready to go.

The front end, ie the bit on your phone, is vastly simpler than Runmeter. It is literally a case of starting the app and hitting the ‘play’ button to begin recording your run. I have found the GPS pick up to be just as good as with Runmeter, and the information regarding pace, elevation, routes and so on to be pretty much identical. So, hit the button and off you go. When you’ve finished, you hit pause. All that remains then is for you to save your run by uploading it to the Strava website, and it’s at that point things start getting interesting.

The website works in a number of different ways. From a personal perspective, you can save your runs, track your progress, compare your best times and so on. There’s quite an array of features. Although, to be honest, there’s not much here that Runmeter doesn’t do. The critical thing for me is that I’m looking at the information on a proper screen as opposed to on my phone. It’s a personal thing; I just happen to vastly prefer it this way.

There is also a social networking aspect to the site, in that you can connect with other runners (be they friends or professionals). What I like about this is that it follows the Twitter model of ‘friending’, in that I can follow pretty much whoever I want, but they are not obliged to follow me back. Of course, the best thing is to follow (and hopefully be followed by) some people you actually know, since you can actually make direct comparisons between your activity.

In the past on this blog, I’ve spoken about just running for the sake of running, not timing myself, not putting myself under any pressure and so on. But something great has happened since I started using this app. I’m putting myself under a little bit of pressure to run harder and I’m still enjoying it! In fact, I’m enjoying it more. In just a week, my times have started to improve. I feel like I’m making progress. Shit, I AM making progress. It’s a good feeling. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not about to become insufferably competitive. But simply adding that small element of competition, whether it’s against myself or someone else, has definitely done me good. Seeing someone else’s best time for one mile being 45 seconds better than mine is motivational for me, particularly when that person is effectively a pensioner (hello Joel!). And you too can point and laugh at my pathetic attempts to run, thanks to the handy widget in my sidebar. Modern technology, eh? It’s like living in an episode of Blake’s Seven or something.

Anyway, I highly recommend it. The only downside for me at present is that I don’t know many people that use it. I’ve no idea how long the site has been running, and hopefully it will continue to grow. From what I understand, it’s more popular with cyclists. But let’s be honest, cyclists are weird and best avoided.

So what else is new?

[slabtext] [slab]I have purchased some[/slab] [slab]new running shoes![/slab] [/slabtext]

Yes, you read that right. Finally. I am very excited. More on this next week (when they’ve been delivered), but suffice to say I have gone for a minimalist shoe, not another pair of Lunas. I would have loved to get a pair of Leadvilles, but to be honest I wanted to try something different. And I can’t bloody wait to get them on.

Also, I’ve had an idea for an event (hello again Joel, need to speak with you about this). The idea of actually organising a race event is becoming more and more appealing. Granted, I have no idea at this stage how feasible it’s going to be, but it’s something I’m going to look at seriously over the coming months. Hmm. Actually I’ve just realised that this probably isn’t very exciting news for you, but it is for me. Well, it will be if I can pull it off. We’ll have to see.

And finally, this place. I was seriously considering pulling the plug for a while, since I was spending more time deleting spam than I was in actually writing anything. Up until yesterday I was getting over 50 spam comments every day. That’s quite a lot. Luckily, it turns out I was being an idiot. My spam filter plugin had deactivated itself and blah blah blah duurrhh I am good at websites. It’s all sorted out now, and thanks to my rekindled enthusiasm I’m going to try and take this blogging lark a bit more seriously. Not sure how that will pan out, exactly. Stay tuned (awake) and find out.

I know I said ‘finally’ before, but there is one more thing. I’ve changed the Twitter feed in the sidebar to my main account. I set up a separate account for running related stuff, and guess what? I never, ever used it. Total waste of time. I use my other account daily, so if nothing else you will be able to see the stuff that spills from my fingers like those little drops of wee that occasionally burst forth when you think you’ve finished going. You get me? Sweet.