I generally love winter training. Cold, frosty mornings are ideal running conditions for me but the dark mornings take a lot of getting used to. When those dark mornings first arrived, it was an every day battle just to get up early. The alarm would go off bright and early but the voice in my head would shout "It's still dark you fool, stay in bed!" Even the owls conspired against me, hooting - "Go home crazy lady, it's still night time!"
Marathon training is constant, hard work. Weekly long runs are crucial but I have to mix it up a bit to keep it interesting and to also fit around my work (sadly work gets in the way of everything). In an attempt to keep my training consistent, my dad recommended a mileage challenge through a company called Awesome Virtual Running. They do monthly challenges - run 100 miles, prove it and get some spectacular bling!
I signed up for the October challenge. Take a look at the bling on offer...
I believe I work in York's equivalent to the Bermuda Triangle so sadly my Garmin cannot "find location" on my run home from work, which means I can't record my full daily mileage. It eventually finds my location after about half a mile. As every mile matters in such a challenge, I looked into downloading a running app. There were so many to choose from so I thought I'd check out some reviews first. As a bit of a technophobe, I needed something simple and easy to use!
The app which came top in reviews was the Nike Running app. Sadly, their recent app update appears to have failed and many of their current users have gone a little nuts - all their running stats have gone and the current users have made their thoughts known by giving the app 1 star reviews. Whilst Nike sort their techno issues, I looked at alternatives!
After much pondering, I downloaded Runtastic. The app was free and records my mileage, tracks my pace and calories burned (just like my Garmin). You can upload runs manually - to save your data usage on long runs! It also shouts at me after every mile, letting me know my distance and average pace. After a month of using it, this still ocassionally takes me by surprise (I must also apologise to the chap I scared on my run into work last week - I ran by him, trying not to take him by surprise when my phone suddenly shouted out my stats - I don't know who jumped the highest - I'm extremely sorry jumpy stranger)!
You can link the app to Facebook, so your lovely Facebook chums can send you motivational messages (or abuse) during your runs or if you're competitive, you can compete against other Runtastic users - there's even a leaderboard! After a few weeks of use, I got a bit fed up with the free App - loads of pop up adverts and no auto pause so I paid the measly sum of £3.50 for the premium version of the app. So long adverts - well worth it!
The clever little app also lets me upload photos to each run, lets me pick out a face depicting how I felt about the run and calculates how many miles I have run in each pair of trainers! It also sends me e-mails after a good run, telling me I'm fantastic - who doesn't need this every once in a while eh?
The auto pause is a little slow but then so is my brain! The app is on my phone and as you know, I constantly stop to take photos. The app will only pause when my phone is completely still so I now take photos to the constant sound of "Activity paused", "Activity resumed", "Activity paused". One day, I will work out how to stop the talking!
Once you've entered a challenge you can join the Facebook page for that monthly challenge. People share how their training is going and generally support each other throughout the month, which is great to keep you motivated. Runtastic isn't just a running app, you can also record other sessions completed such as swimming, cycling and even back-country skiing if that's your thing.
If you don't have or don't like running with a watch or you simply want a central place to record all of your training, then I would recommend Runtastic. I'm a technophobe and am able to use it at it's most basic. I'm sure those with more techno ability will be able to discover many more uses for the app!
Luckily I scraped through October by running more than 100 miles, despite my struggles getting up in the morning! I am now going to submit my mileage to Awesome Virtual Running and await delivery of my rather impressive bling. Woo hoo!