Navigationally Challenged Runner, Meet Your New Best Friend

I have a new recommendation for you today, Assassans. Its discovery was born of necessity, like most of my treasured finds. One reason I typically don’t run with training groups is my refusal to keep a constant pace. I reserve the right to slow down or speed up as the spirit moves me. This typically leads to another reason; that I don’t know running routes that aren’t within my own stomping grounds. Meeting up with a group in an unknown area just never works. If I don’t run a constant pace I rarely keep up with the pack. Once the pack is out of sight I’m lost on an unfamiliar course.

Maps only help so much when they are folded up in a sweaty pocket to be fished out on the run and studied in the dark. GPS on my phone only helps if I already know the route—it might help me get back to my starting point or a specific destination but it won’t get me circuitous route for the planned mileage. If I’m lost two miles into a six mile run, I have no idea which upcoming turns are mine to complete those six miles. There’s no advantage to finding my way back only to come up short on miles. So what’s a sassy runner to do if she wants to participate in a training group? Up until this weekend she just said Thanks but passed on the opportunity. Not anymore!

Determined to participate with a local marathon training group, I asked the techno-gods for guidance (pun completely intended). They gave me the RunGo app, which will give me turn-by-turn voice commands on the run. Even if I’ve never run the route before I can program the directions into the app and run it in the dark as if I know exactly what I’m doing. When the group leader emails the directions to the runners I can put them right into the app and save them. On training day it took one tap to bring the route back up and one tap to start, large enough to read without glasses and bright enough to see in the dark. Worked like a charm on the first try—love that.

The navigator’s voice is clear and intelligible. She alerts me when the next turn is coming up and then tells me which direction to turn when I get there.  She tells me my mileage as I go. If I want her to, she’ll tell me all kinds of fancy stats along the way with custom settings. I don’t even need earbuds. She’ll talk to me right through the speaker, loud enough to be heard over road noise and wind. Once the route is programmed in it will even work without a cell signal or using cellular data. I went off the course just to see what would happen and she alerted me right away and gave me options to recover.

It came in brilliantly handy not only on Saturday’s run with the training group, but again on Sunday. During Sunday’s long run (in a very familiar neighborhood) my GPS watch’s battery died with a few miles yet to go.  No problem.  I clicked right on over the RunGo app and she tracked the rest of my mileage and pace for me. If you’re running in a major city the navigator will tell you the location of runner-friendly bathrooms and points of interest along the way. You can listen to music and/or take calls or texts while the app continues to keep you on course, so no worries there either.

The app was developed by actual runners and continues to be improved by runners out on the road.  With a slew of ambassadors in the US and Canada out there logging routes for users to access right through the app, you’re covered when looking for places to run when traveling out of town. Better yet, if you want to preview an out-of-town marathon course there are even some of those in there. There’s a pretty cool blog to follow if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m betting you are since you hang around here. Oh, and did I mention that the app is FREE? Yep, free. Available for Android and Apple, and no, they didn’t pay me to promote it. I’m just a satisfied and navigationally challenged user. Here’s the website if you need it (or don’t believe me), although I was able to do everything super-fast and easy—including the route input—right on my phone. This is a win-win with a bonus, a freebie, a handshake, a high-five, and another win. You can thank me later.

P.S. Here’s a fun little video I found after I’d already written this. I can’t promise you’ll meet any hot runner chicks in tights to have coffee with you but you’ll get the general idea. The route in the video is definitely more complicated than the one I ran but it does mention one feature that I forgot–that it will also work off-road. So it’s a win-win with a bonus, a freebie, a handshake, a high-five, another win, and a conjugal visit.

 

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