It seems to get everyone in the end. The dull, repetitive, painful thudding of a morning jog turns from a source of fear and amusement to an insatiable craving.
Like desperate addicts people circle public parks under cover of darkness, feeding their habit like nocturnal, masochistic ghouls.
Once the addiction has reached a certain level, these people become pushers, boasting about how great their drug makes them feel – the unbelievable highs and rushes of chemicals. Go on, try it, they say. Just try it once. Once and you’ll be hooked.
And thanks to the ceaseless march of the smartphone, these people have another weapon in their armoury – the running app.
Now your phone can remind you when you should go for a jog, give you a prod when you should speed up and shout at you when you decide to pack it in early. Nike+ is the daddy of them all and still one of the best. Using GPS it will record the distance you have traveled, tailor a playlist to suit your workout and even play you a congratulatory message from Lance Armstrong when you have beaten your personal best.
Along the same lines is Motorola’s Motoactv, a stand-alone, Android-based gadget that records information including how many steps you have taken and how many calories you have burned. The tiny device can then compare this with any friends using the same system, adding a competitive edge to a solo workout.
Whatever your level or regime, there will be an app for it: from interval running to dedicated marathon training. For the motivationally challenged, the future of running is here. Just don’t blame me when you get hooked.
BEST OF THE REST
If you’re the kind of person who struggles to get out of bed without an element of competition, then this app is for you. It will use your phone’s GPS to track your run and then save it until next time you hit the streets, at which point you can race against your own best times. A bit like the ghost feature on Mario Kart, except more tiring and probably not quite as much fun.
Making your running public is a good way of keeping your interest levels up. There are a whole host of social apps that will let you post your times online and receive support from other runners. RunKeeper is one of the better ones, allowing you to search through your entire running history to chart your improvement curve.