Staying in shape is difficult at the best of times—there have been days where I’d rather drink a can of lighter fluid than go on a run. The problem is motivation, or the lack of it, because keeping fit isn’t an instantly gratifying process. It’s very hard to keep at it. You don’t finish a run and suddenly have thighs made of steel and the ability to beat Usain Bolt in a dash to the shop; it takes time and effort, and eventually, one day, you’ll realise you’re much fitter than you were when you started.
Most people will motivate themselves with this. They tell themselves that if they keep going, they’ll eventually be at the fitness level they want, they’ll eventually look the way they want and they’ll eventually be as attractive as they want. The problem arises when that ‘future self’ motivation isn’t particularly strong. What if you’re part of my generation, for whom everything is an instant gratification and foresight is a very rare phenomenon? What do you do then?
Well, of course you download an app!
This is why I am all about Nike+ GPS right now. It’s an app that tracks your runs and gives you all sorts of stats that you can go over and analyse later as well as giving you some interesting social features while you’re actually running.
So, let’s go through a standard use of this app. I’ll think, “I should go on a run” (and I would have thought this because I’m so set on improving my stats it’s unreal). I fire up the app and select whether I want a set distance, time or to just wing it. Let’s say I just wing it. I’ll then select what playlist from my iPod app I’d like to listen to (from within the Nike+ app), tell the app if I’m running indoors or outside (to tell the app whether or not to use GPS) and then finally I’ll select whether or not I want to receive Facebook cheers.
Now, this is an interesting feature—if you enable the cheers feature, your run gets posted on your Facebook page as you set off. For every ‘Like’ or comment you get on this post, your music is interrupted with a ‘cheer’, a sort of “keep going, your friends are watching”.
This feature isn’t something I’ve tried, mainly because I don’t use Facebook very often, but I can imagine that, for heavy Facebook users (or ‘the general public’) this would be a very fun feature.
After you’ve finished your run, you can then look back and see all sorts of stats: distance, time taken, mile pace, calories burnt. You can not only see a map of where you ran (pretty standard), you can also enable a layer on top of it to tell you about your ‘splits’— how quickly you were running at each stage (very interesting). You can also share the run via Twitter or Facebook, as well as participate in a game of Nike+ Tag, a sort of virtual “you’re it” game where you and anyone else you know who uses Nike+ tag each other after every run—another feature that keeps you going on more and more runs.
All of this information then syncs to your Nike+ account which you can log into via your browser. Here you can see even more stats as well as an arbitrary level based on how much you exercise. This is what really makes me want to run more. I’m a sucker for levels! It makes me feel like I’m some sort of RPG character trying to level up my ‘stamina’ attribute.
To wrap things up: if you have trouble motivating yourself to exercise, don’t give up or try things that don’t suit you. If you’re a nerd (like me) and the only way you can really be motivated to do something is through your smartphone screen, just download an app and get running. Simple.
Here are some links to the Nike+ app if my ranting has spurred you onto try it out: UK & US. If you already use this app, let us know, similarly, if you use something else (Adidas miCoach?) why? Surely it can’t be better?