[App Fridays] FirstRun aims to get people marathon ready in nine weeks with training from Gul Panag
Running is amongst the most popular forms of exercise. It requires no special equipment to start off with, other than a good pair of shoes. But as time passes, most people are not able to sustain their initial enthusiasm for multiple reasons. A peer group or coach can help runners stick to their fitness goals.
Some runners may not follow the correct approach to running. They may even strain themselves early on, with the consequence of not getting the desired benefits of working out. FirstRun, developed by MobieFit, wants to tackle this problem through technology. It provides users with a personal training program. The app is essentially audio-visual guidance on fitness from Gul Panag. MobieFit, a mobile fitness startup, is incubated at Prototyze, Goa.
What is it?
FirstRun, one of MobieFit’s products, is a personal running program targeted at both novice and expert runners. Based on Josh Clark’s ‘Couch to 5km’ (C25K) program, the app guides novice runners to go from their couch to running five kilometres in nine weeks. Runners are expected to train 30 minutes a day, thrice a week, to achieve this feat. Advanced runners can select the 12-week running program, which trains them to run non-stop for 65 minutes, or the equivalent of a 10km run, thrice a week.
How it works
Users need to download the free app, and pick a training program of their choice. They can also browse through video tutorials to make sure their basics are right. After that, users need to plug in a pair of earphones and run to the audio instructions and advice they hear.
Gul Panag, the co-founder of MobieFit, is the in-app personal trainer for the 5K and 10K programs. She, or her voice, gives runners essential tips along the way. She guides users on how to run in the ‘running basics’ sections, where users can learn to improve their running form and techniques through various drills and stretches.
The app helps the user pace their run, and increases the difficulty level as time progresses. On the first day, a runner only needs to run for less than 10 minutes, with each run being only one minute. As they progress, the running time gradually increases. In the last week of the novice program, users are trained to run for 20 minutes, and walk 10 minutes out of their thirty-minute run.
Outdoor and indoor mode: The app features an indoor mode with slightly different audio instructions tailored for running on a treadmill. The outdoor mode assists users who prefer running outdoors. Users can also pause an active session to take a breather.
In-app music player: This feature allows users to play music of their choice between audio instructions.
Progress graphs: After every run, the app records running stats and graphs that users can look through to understand and track their progress.
What we liked?
While numbers and progress graphs are part of the app, the main focus here is on the journey. Runners are taken through different stages of running based on the C25K program. With a firm base and a flexible running program, runners are more likely to stick to it and succeed.
The different in app features like the indoor mode for running on treadmills, ability to play music in the background during the run or the gradual increase in the difficulty level enhance the appeal of the app.
What could be improved?
During their sessions, users can tap on an in-app button that locks the screen while the audio plays in the background. While this is helpful in preventing unwanted swipes from interfering with the session, the screen remains switched on throughout. Automatic screen turn off would help preserve the phone’s energy, especially during long periods of phone inactivity during the run.
Gourav Jaswal, al Founder and Director of MobieFit and Prototyze, had earlier confirmed addition of more trainers and running sessions to the app to create a diversity of options and experiences for all kinds of runners.
While there are many fitness apps in the market, FirstRun provides a unique running experience to both novice and advanced runners. This is largely because it focuses on the journey rather than providing only tracking services. The attention to detail is also apparent with the in-app music player, treadmill mode and other features.
The app is currently free to download and use, but the founders aim to include in-app purchases or charge a monthly subscription fee in the future.
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