Craig RunGo'ing at the BMO Vancouver Marathon
The BMO Vancouver Marathon was an unofficial launch for RunGo, which was fitting given this is where it all began. I was at the Expo last year promoting another app (which has now been discontinued) and we developed RunGo based on the feedback we got then. RunGo became available in the App Store in March and the Expo gave me an opportunity to talk to thousands of runners.
I'd nearly lost my voice by Saturday night, but on Sunday morning I was standing at the start line in the rain with all the other runners.
I've used RunGo in a few races, but this was my chance to test the latest version that was released last week. We've added new features including "course pace", which gives runners their estimated finish time and the time remaining on the route based on their current pace, new Twitter and Facebook sharing features and low battery warnings.
Of the new features I've been most surprised at how the information about my pace has affected my running.
Every time I've used it I've run faster than I expected.
When I started running RunGo gave my finish time at 5h:25m. Within five kilometers I was down close to 4hours. Every kilometer I'd hear my estimated finish drop. And then it became a game, which made it really fun.
"How much can I drop my finish time?" I wondered.
I was seeing if I could drop it by another minute or so every few kilometers. I tried to see if I could keep the pace dropping. I didn't want to let it go back up again. I wasn't even worried about my current pace, just my finish time. That's the only number that's really important to a runner. The finish time.
As well as my finish time, RunGo also kept me updated on how long I had to go. "Two hours to go" and "an hour and a half to go." Hearing the two numbers together was helpful. I liked being reminded that I've only got another 45 minutes or another 20 minutes. I didn't have to do any math in my head while running.
I was watching a lot of other people look at pace bands and their watches and could see them trying to figure out what their pace was and nobody really knew. One runner I know was thinking they were on a 3h:45m pace but they were actually on a 3hr:55m pace. So even though it was early they didn't realize they already had to make up time.
At a lot of races I get to that point where I want to slow down. I go through a bit of a low and want to slack off a bit. But by getting my pace I knew if I'd slow down I'd have to catch up again so I never wanted to slow down. It's kind of like when you're running with someone and you're having a good conversation and you want to keep up with them so you push a little harder to stay with them. Except I was in control. I could decide how much to speed up or slow down. RunGo was my motivator.
It made every kilometer like a little personal best.
Plus I was really surprised. I haven't run that fast in about five years.
The last time I ran faster than this was in 2008 in Boston. I didn't do many marathons for a few years because I found ultras were more fun. I started running the distance again because I got slower. I use marathons for speed training to keep my speed up a bit. I also didn't train for this kind of time. I did some long runs but I was running with mostly the Running Room 4-hour or 4h:15m-pace group with the Running Room. I wasn't training for a race this fast.
I found RunGo highly motivating. It's going to be interesting to see how other people find it. It's not making people run faster or slower. It's just giving runners the information.
Using RunGo in another race also gave me some ideas for future features. I think it would be useful to have RunGo alert runners when they're approaching water stations and if there will be water or sports drinks or entertainment. Some races have signs saying there are water stations or motivation stations ahead, but not always. It would be good to have that information as you approach so you can be ready for it.
I also got some great feedback from people at the Expo. A lot of people were really excited, but they want more routes - which we knew. But it's good to know we're on the right track, so to speak. A lot of people said they sometimes get lost and are very interested in ways to avoid that.
Everyone wants to add their own routes and we're aware of that and it's a feature we're working on. Some people also said they'd like it if RunGo could access data from other Apps and a lot of people wanted a Android version which we're working on. I love getting feedback from other runners, so if you have any suggestions, please contact us.