Reflections on my chaotic life of minivans, tantrums, deadlines, and diets ... a life I wouldn't trade for the world.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Runkeepin' it Real

The score is 2-1, Andersons. We're off to a good start.

On April 30, my sister proposed a friendly challenge between the team of her and her wife, and the team of me and my husband. The goal is to work out as many times as possible in the month, with the winning team earning a loser-sponsored dinner at the end of the month.

The rules:

  • Each workout must be at least 20 minutes long
  • Each workout earns one point, whether it's 20 minutes or 60 minutes
  • Walking counts, but the intent must be to work out--not take a leisurely stroll

Me in my previous life ...
Now, you might be thinking 20 minutes is not very long. Exactly. Our mantra is "no excuses" (a la Biggest Loser).  I have two kids under two, a busy part-time job, a fledgling freelance writing career, and a house to maintain. My days of 5-hour bike rides are over. I am more likely to get out and exercise if I know I only have to squeeze in 20 minutes to earn a point. Every little bit helps to whittle away this spare tire.

How are we logging our workouts? We use Runkeeper, a web-based app that helps you attain your fitness goals. You can use Runkeeper to track your running, biking, and swimming workouts, as well as other sports, such as skiing and hiking. It even lets you track workouts done inside, such as on the elliptical.

Do you need peer pressure to motivate you to get off the couch? You can create Street Teams in Runkeeper, which enables a Facebook-like social experience, complete with status updates. You can also search for other Runkeeper users nearby and possibly reach out to them to keep you motivated. Runkeeper integrates with Facebook, as well, so you can post your latest fitness endeavors for the world to see.

And the piece de resistance: Runkeeper also has a mobile interface for iPhone and Android, which uses GPS to track your mileage as you work out. Your phone will call out your splits, based on the settings you've selected (be sure to turn down the volume if you don't want people to hear you just ran a mile in 15 minutes). I've found the GPS to be kind of testy, but that could just be my phone. For the most part, mobile use has been seamless.

There is a free and a paid version of Runkeeper. I have only used the free version, which has been plenty for me, but I understand that the paid version offers "real-time" workout tracking. As though running more slowly than most people can walk weren't humiliating enough, I could potentially broadcast my workouts to my friends, some of whom have a laundry list of athletic endeavors that put me to shame.

Long story short, I am looking forward to the dinner Bill and I will so deserve at the end of the month. No excuses!

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