On running, Android apps, personal area networks and fund raising
Sarah and I are running in the 5K Packard Summer Scamper on Saturday. Sarah's been working on her fitness for a few months now, and I belatedly started working on mine about a 6 weeks ago. (Sarah's fund raising, so if you'd like to sponsor her, her page is here)
I've been using the Couch to 5K program to get my fitness up, but I haven't managed to stick to it exactly, due to a combination of injury and wet weather. I have still managed to get myself to the point where I can run for 28 minutes solidly, which is close to 5K (I'm doing my last training run tomorrow, so I'll see what the distance comes out to).
I've been doing up to three runs a week at lunchtime around the Shoreline Amphitheatre area, using my Galaxy Nexus and some Bluetooth headphones, and I've got a pretty nice little setup. I'm using Pandora for some music to listen to, C25K Pro for the actual running intervals. It has voice prompts that tell me when to run, or to start a walk interval. Finally, I'm using Strava Run for recording the run and getting some additional statistics during the run (kilometre markers, split times and time elapsed). These also come through as voice prompts. I'm not currently wearing a watch, and I want to keep track of the wall time, so I've also found Audio Clock, which verbally announces the time (I've set it to do it every 15 minutes that a Bluetooth headset is connected).
What I really like about all of this is that I get spoken voice prompts and information, seamlessly mixed in with the music from Pandora, all while I'm running. I've got my phone strapped to my arm, and I don't have to look at it during the run, and there's no wires.
I'm a huge personal metrics junkie, and that was why I previously eschewed running outdoors. I wanted that information on the treadmill display so I could push myself that little bit further. Sure, I'm not getting the constant information as much as if I had a treadmill display in front of me the whole time, but I'll settle for running in the great outdoors and getting some feedback every kilometre (if I get really desperate, Strava will do it every half kilometre).
Not to diss optical augmented reality efforts too much, but I'd rather go for a combination of discreet audio announcements through a Bluetooth earpiece, perhaps complemented with something I choose to look at like a Pebble watch, than an in-your-face pair of glasses. My Bluetooth headphones are the around the back of the head variety that aren't going to bounce off during a run.
I've really enjoyed doing the runs during the week, and when I was doing the full 3 runs a week of a given week of the Couch to 5K program, I'd really notice a difference by run number 3. I'm currently planning on sticking with doing a 5K run hopefully at least twice a week after this weekend. It's certainly done wonders for my waistline.