05 March 2009

Procrastinate My Run

I like running, I like procrastinating and I like cool little web apps and when une amie was waxing lyrical about MapMyRun.com, I thought it sounded like my kind of thing. Strangely enough, it allows you to map your runs and store them in your account, share them with your MapMyRun buddies and enroll in a training plan for a race. It also keeps track of all your previous runs, which could be handy if you aren't like me and don't run for 50 minutes twice a week and an hour and a bit a third time each week. It's probably handier if you have a watch to record your times rather than using fractions of podcasts (I haven't worn a watch for about five years and my perception of time is generally pretty good but even so).

I tried searching the site for running routes in London but apparently none are found. None? Really? Perhaps this site hasn't quite made it to England yet (even though London was the first "location" that showed up in the search window). Anyway, it isn't really much more than a glorified Google Map. OK, so some of the features are a little easier to use and more tailored towards marking running routes on maps but do people really plan in advance where their water breaks are going to be? Or mark on the map, post-run, where they took their water breaks? If so, I guess I'm just not a very serious runner yet. I take water breaks when I pass a water fountain, which, in England, means almost never (although there are several dotted all over Central Park so I'm more hydrated when running over the pond).

I'd be far too lazy to sit down in front of MapMyRun when I got back from a run to actually sit down and mark out my route on the map, inputting my time into the system so that I could see whether I'd improved. Because if I were a serious runner, I would just get the Nike+ software, which records all your runs, along with the speed, distance, time, number of breaths you took, number of times you tripped over your own toes and much more besides, and then transmits it automatically to the Nike+ website via a USB stick.

Maybe MapMyRun is really aimed at people who don't run--who've never been running in their life. The people who have expensive gym memberships, designed running togs, a water-based rowing machine in their homes and all of the latest kit but who don't really like running (ah hem, Papa!). MapMyRun allows them to feel like a real runner by planning potential routes, scheduling every water break and rest stop with a fierce precision and hanging out in the forums afterwards discussing the pros and cons with hills and no hills, or how they should train for a 10k.

In my experience, people who are motivated to go running don't need the added chore of entering a load of details electronically, post-run. Maybe that's just me: perfectly happy to energetically encircle various parks, rivers and hills, but far too lazy to type a few things into a website...

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