iPhone, Apps and the birth of modern running

The birth of the modern running era can be directly traced to the day, in 1970, that Bill Bowerman poured liquid urethane into a clothes iron while experimenting on creating a new sole for his trainers. So was born the Nike Cortez running shoe, later superseded by the Waffle trainer sole, which sat at the heart of what would become a multi-billion dollar running shoe industry.

The Nike Waffle Sole

For a sport that is supposed to be unhindered by material needs – after all to run all we need is our feet and the open road – nearly all runners have bought into the industry to some extent. Whether it is buying a pair of colourful leggings for the winter months, or paying hundreds of pounds for the latest running shoes, the underlying urge is the same. Anything that can make us run better, quicker – or just make it less painful – is a good thing.

So it is no surprise that the App technology has exploded with running applications for iPhones and Androids. From Runners’ Ally, which purports to help runners get faster by offering a pace calculator, to Personal Running Trainer, the App market is now flooded with new ways of making the runners’ life easier, or at least more efficient. We are all busy people, and if we only have 30 mins a day to exercise then we want to make the most of it.

It was only when Mrs H was in the final weeks of pregnancy that I started taking my iPhone with me out running. Even though, before, I would sometimes get a ticking off for not being contactable when out running, the idea that I was completely alone, albeit for only a few hours, was an immensely liberating experience.

Now I take the iPhone with me even for a jog around the park. On it I have loaded the iMapMyRUN App (this link is to the website, but the idea is the same). Its GPS system means that not only can you plot the most outrageous routes through any city and still come out the other side, but you can also tilt off in any direction with complete abandon knowing that Ariadne’s thread to get you out of the labyrinth is always in your pocket. The downside, of course, is that Mrs H can find me anywhere.


About Robin Harvie

I have been running marathons for ten years. But when I couldn't around faster than 3 hours 12 minutes, I decided to see how far I could run before I keeled over. Turns out pretty far. In September 2009 I took on the Spartathlon - 152 miles from Athens to Sparta. Non stop. Why We Run is about that journey and about why we run at all.
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2 Responses to iPhone, Apps and the birth of modern running

  1. I’ve just started using the same app. Last time I did the London Marathon I lived in eternal terror of falling/getting lost far from my house on longer training runs, and used to write road names all up my arms.
    The feeling of freedom that the app gives me by being able to run (in a new city I don’t know as well) with a live map *just about* outweighs the lack of freedom that carrying my inbox/phone with me creates.

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