RaceRunner: can an old-school runner study to like the smartphone app? | Life and elegance


OOk, I’m biased, I received’t lie. I actually wasn’t anticipating to love RaceRunner. It’s all the pieces I’m not eager on: it’s smartphone-centric, it includes teaming up with unknown “buddies” and it treats the notion of solitude (“Never run alone again”) as some sort of illness.

Here’s the two-line pitch: “We have gamified running, and have made it more stimulating and engaging. How? We pair users up against each other, and through the app they run virtual races in real time, anywhere in the world.”

So, why the knee-jerk antipathy? First, I don’t need my working “gamified”. I prefer it simply the best way it’s: sneakers on, door, run, door, sneakers off, accomplished. Positively ungamified, in different phrases. Second, I’m not eager on pairing up with others. In a social media age, this clearly marks me out. But I fairly like a little bit of solitude, particularly the working type: that non-public, rhythmic house the place you possibly can detach, de-stress, drift off, daydream.

What I wasn’t anticipating, I confess, was RaceRunner not liking me very a lot. We acquired alongside tolerably effectively at first. My inaugural matchup was over earlier than I knew it. I pressed “Run”, the app linked me up with Myrtie in Kingston, Ontario, and an Americanised feminine voice stated “Go”. And so go we went. We raced the default 1km (you possibly can change the gap, however I used to be nonetheless to work that out) after which we have been accomplished. The app in contrast our occasions, saved our respective routes by way of GPS and invited us to “share” (I didn’t; I don’t assume Myrtie did both).

Second day out, I believed I’d attempt racing in opposition to myself. The app permits for such an possibility, however I sense the algorithm doesn’t actually approve. Running solo? No. That’s previous, analogue type. All the identical, afternoon jog accomplished, it supplied me a breakdown of our time collectively: route, general time, splits, energy burned, military bases reconnoitered – the same old drill. Yet once more, the software program was eager for me to share. Once extra, I declined.

When I set off the 3rd time, RaceRunner had clocked my sort: resistant to vary, socially recalcitrant, digitally unreformed. So it determined to journey me up. Literally. Forty minutes into my off-road run, eyes briefly on the display screen to test my tempo, it despatched me sprawling on a tree root. Screen smashed past restore. My telephone battery, clearly in cahoots, then determined to pack up. That was when the rain began.

Chastened, I brushed myself off and determined to begin afresh. A clear slate. I’d take RaceRunner for what it’s and would see if we may get alongside. That was 2 months in the past. Things have, I’m happy to say, improved. We should not in good algorithmic sync, however we’ve got come to a mutual lodging.

In essence, that is the place we’re at: I placed on my sneakers, open the door and head out as regular; however I take my telephone with me and, after a few kilometres’ warmup, I open the app. As effectively as providing to search out you a race buddy, RaceRunner invitations you to hitch pre-programmed races. These vary from 1k to a full marathon. The thought is that you simply race in your personal time, wherever you occur to search out your self. At a sure date, the race closes and winners (and losers) are introduced. This is the choice I usually select.

I deal with it as interval coaching. On a median run, I clock up eight to 10km. What I don’t habitually do is push myself. Which is the place RaceRunner is available in. Depending on my vitality ranges, I click on on something between a 1k and 5k pre-programmed race. This encourages me to go sooner than I usually would, which has undoubtedly added to my general health and velocity.

So is good factor? My intuition is to say, “not really”. Times have by no means a lot me. In truth, earlier than my encounter with RaceRunner, I had solely the vaguest sense of how a lot floor I coated. Of private bests, I do know nothing and have by no means cared. I nonetheless don’t.

Nor do I’ve any intention to enter any non-virtual (actual life) races any time quickly. Were that to vary, nevertheless, then RaceRunner will surely make for an excellent coaching assist. Likewise, if I have been somebody in search of a prod to edge me off the sofa, then its pleasant interface and amicable competitiveness would supply the proper stimulus. But that’s not me, both.

This all sounds somewhat unfavorable, which is unfair. RaceRunner is a neat thought and marks a real advance within the crowded running-app market. That stated, if you wish to run with somebody, then working with a pal in individual, shoulder to shoulder, can’t be crushed. That isn’t at all times potential, nevertheless, which is when working with Myrtie in Canada turns into a possible different. Here we’re, greater than 5,000km aside, and we’re racing in opposition to each other in actual time. It’s novel, on the very least.

Just as a result of I’m not RaceRunner’s target market doesn’t imply I’m inured to its gamifying charms. Yes, I like working on my own, with no telephone in hand and no thoughts to my time. Yet what my app expertise has taught me is that working just isn’t as binary as I had imagined. I’ve loved being pushed. I’ve valued the frisson of competitors. I’ve even loved the likelihood – free although it’s – of digital companionship.

All the identical, I miss my solitary working. What’s extra, I worry if I hold with the working app factor for much longer, it would suck me in and I’ll by no means discover my manner again. So, with a tinge of remorse that surprises the pre-RaceRunner me, I believe it’s time we parted methods. Although not earlier than I’ve snuck in a single final 5k race. Who is aware of? If I’m fortunate, perhaps Myrtie will pop up and be a part of me.

(Editor references)

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