I like to think of myself as a fairly experienced runner. I originally took up the sport back in 2004 as way to get into shape for the upcoming winter snowboarding season because I was tired of getting “winded” every time I completed just a couple of runs in the Colorado Rockies. It turns out that running really had no effect on getting acclimated to a higher altitude, but it did give me an alternative to working out in a stuffy gym.
I hit the running trails and soon signed up for my first 5K which then turned into a 10K and before I knew it, I had completed my first marathon in 2005. Years later I carry a sense of pride having completed five marathons including two in New York City (I might have completed a sixth, but Hurricane Sandy forced the cancelation of the 2012 New York City Marathon). But after seven years of running, I began to experience complacency and some amount of “burn-out.”
This past summer, my older brother introduced me to the Nike Running App for my iPhone. I was initially hesitant to use it since my Garmin GPS had worked so well in the past. But giving it a try I was pleased with the range of music I could listen to as well the “atta-boys” that congratulate the runner after a long run, new record set, etc.
But the real motivation to run more took place just before Christmas. This was when Nike updated the app so that not only could I see how many miles I was running, but how many miles my friends were running as well. All of a sudden, I was getting quite competitive when I saw that a friend of mine had logged more miles in a month than I had. This pushed me to get in a 10K run on Christmas Day when I felt that others wouldn’t be quite so motivated to run. It also pushed me to run seven miles on December 31 so I could be assured that the top running spot for the month of December would be mine.
You could chalk this up to good old fashioned competition between friends, but actually it is more interesting than that. What Nike has done is taken the social media aspect and placed into a program to motivate people to exercise. Would I have been motivated to run seven miles the afternoon of New Year’s Eve without it? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe if I had a friend nearby who ran with me, but my friends live in New Jersey and California.
Thanks to Nike and social media, I was driven to be the top runner for the month of December. . . and yes when the clock struck midnight, I did check my phone just to make sure my friends hadn’t snuck in a few miles to unseat me.