Get Running!

January 15th, 2010

Seeing as my snowbound exercise regime is so limited at the moment, I figured I’d post some news about the iPhone app that got me started with running!

I hadn’t done any proper exercise for a couple of years. I’d given up karate following a snowboarding injury that kept me out of the dojo for six months, and an optician’s warning that I was at risk of detached retina, so I shouldn’t  “do anything stupid like taking up boxing.”

Then my friend Benjohn asked me to put a quick website together for his first iPhone app, called Get Running. Based on Josh Clarke’s “Couch to 5K” plan (“C25K” for short), it’s designed to get people running from scratch. I wrote some marketing for Benjohn, played with the application a bit — then pretty much decided that if I was going to be involved with the project, I should really, you know, run.

So, back in July, I started following the plan. The thing I most liked about Get Running was that it was simple. Everything was done for you. You kicked off whatever music you thought would get you going, started the app, and pressed the “Run” button. After that, you just followed the instructions. The nice voice (Benjohn got his friend Clare into a recording studio, I think) told you to walk for five minutes to warm up, so you walked. It told you to start running, you started running. It told you you were halfway through this bit of running, you were grateful. It told you to switch back to walking for a while, you walked.

At the halfway point, it told you to turn around, so you turned around and headed back home, all the time guided and encouraged by the voice. In the first release of the app, the instructions were a little difficult to hear over the music, so Benjohn worked on that, and it now fades the music down, speaks to you, and fades the music back up. It’s really slick.

And at the end of the run, it would update its little “Progress Path”, a sweet scrollable graphic at the bottom of the app’s home screen, and show you how far along the plan you’d got, and which day would be best to run next.

Because Get Running did everything else for me, all I needed to do was get out on the days it told me to get out, and do exactly what it told me to do. And before I knew it, on the first of October last year, I’d finished the C25K plan. I was a runner. Or at the very least, I was a jogger!

And that’s how I got started. Since then, I’ve run 10K in training at least twice, I’ve learned to run up stupidly long, steep hills, and I’ve entered my first race. I’m fitter, I’ve lost some weight (I would say I’d lost half a stone, but Christmas helped me put some of it back on!) and I’ve taken at least a couple of really good photos that I wouldn’t otherwise have got, because I’d have been sitting on my backside at home, rather than jogging past the Clifton Suspension Bridge, or around Durdham Down.

Today Benjohn released a new version of Get Running on the iTunes Store. It does everything the old one does, but has some bug fixes and a cool new feature — it can post status updates to Twitter and Facebook, too. You can edit the status text before sending it off, and you can even have it use whatever Twitter client you prefer using on your iPhone, if you do that sort of thing.

I don’t think this is just a gimmick — public commitment and public updates of your progress are a great way to keep yourself going. That’s the reason I started this blog in the first place!

So, if you’re thinking about starting running, even if you’ve never run a step in your life, then Get Running! It got me started, and I loved the feeling of running my first 5K. At £1.19, on the UK store, at least, it seems like a bargain.

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