I’m not a person who is naturally inclined toward any activity that could be described as “working out”. This is one of the reasons that I was, let’s say, large for most of my life. When I decided that I was going to take up running, I needed a way of making it more palatable to me, a way of integrating into my geek lifestyle, and Runkeeper was that initial hook.
I love technology, so downloading the Runkeeper app before my first run was a no brainer. I was more excited about playing with the app and finding out what it could do for me than I was about the benefits of the actual run. After I finished the run, I was completely drawn into the data that Runkeeper gave me. I had mileage, a pace, calories burned, a map, and run splits that I could use to gauge my performance. The problem was, I had no idea what “pace” or “splits” were, I ended up googling them so that I knew what I was looking at. This was a subtle benefit of Runkeeper, by giving me information that I didn’t understand, it caused me to look it up and learn more about running in the process.
The other side of Runkeeper is the website, that contains a complete list of all runs that you have logged, along with stats and graphs. This is the part that really hooked me, I felt compelled to go out and run again and again and again, so that I could see the graphs and accumulated data. This probably sounds odd, unless you’re something of a data geek like myself. I was and am addicted to these graphs, seeing my running progress in bar chart form is exciting to me!
The history of it is also important to me, being able to look back at where I was a year ago and where I am now is a huge motivation to me. For example, I can look back at September 1, 2011 and see that I ran 3 miles at a 10:01 pace, and then look at September 1, 2012 and see that I ran 14 miles at a 9:48 pace. I will grant you that the pace is not much better, but the additional 11 miles is nice! The first time I ran over 3 miles was september 26, 2010 and I did that at a 14:45 pace, which lets face it, is basically walking. Being able to look back at those old runs and see how far I’ve come is a real confidence booster, which is very helpfully to me as I train for my first full marathon.
Another life long interest of mine has been gaming, I’ve spent countless hours on high scores, leveling up, questing, achievement hunting, and everything else that goes with being a gamer. The website Fitocracy has allowed me to take that interest and apply it to my running life! It takes elements from gaming and applies them to exercising, by giving you points and achievements for your activities. There are achievements for running certain distances, there are quests for combining different activities, even duals that allow you to challenge your friends to fitness contests.
The groups feature on Fitocracy is also very nice. Groups are communities formed around just about anything, for example, some of the groups I’m in are Runners, Oklahoma, Web Developers, and Steam Gamers. It’s fun to interact with other people who are trying to live a healthier life style, that also have similar interests to you. These communities tend to be very encouraging and can also be a great source of advice.
Fitocracy is a natural fit for me, it transfers the excitement of “leveling up” in a game to my running life. It has not been as important to me as Runkeeper, but it is a fun diversion and gives me different kinds of goals to work toward. If you’re a fellow Fitocrat, feel free to send me a friend request!
These days I love running for the sake of running, I don’t need the technology or games to motivate me, but they were important in getting me where I am now and continue to be important in monitoring my progress. If you’re a geek like me, and you’re trying to find out how to make running a part of your life, give Runkeeper and Fitocracy a shot!