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March 31, 2014

Running man: training with my Nokia Lumia

How I went from half runner to half-marathon man with just my Lumia smartphone for company


About three months ago, a friend of mine invited me to visit. I haven’t seen him in a while, so I naturally obliged. What he didn’t tell me was that he’d also signed me up for a half marathon. The furthest I’ve ever run is 10k and I needed a week to recuperate afterwards, so the thought of more-than-doubling that distance predictably filled me with dread.

What’s more, he lives in the north of England. For those unaccustomed to British geography, the north consists of two things: 1. Hills 2. Rain.

Again, nothing that aids confidence in running 13.1094 miles in a single shot.

However, for the last 90 days, I’ve been using something (legal) that has not only helped me get to a point where I’m actually looking forward to running non-stop for more than an hour and a half (the race is this coming Sunday), but has actually motivated me every. Long. Painful. Step. Of. The. Way.

That something is my Nokia Lumia and the RunTastic PRO app

In it simplest form, RunTastic PRO utilises the GPS on my Lumia 925 to track, position and plot my running route, displaying the detailed map on my return. It also gives me an in-depth breakdown of my average pace, maximum speed, calories burned and elevation gained. I don’t use a heart rate monitor but you can connect one via Bluetooth.

However, the real motivator for me was sharing my workouts with a friend who’s running the same race but trains 200 miles away. From the app, we’ve compared split times, distance and frequency run, and devised our own training plans based to bring our pace closer together for the big day.

RunTastic PRO comes with a ‘Story Running‘ mode, which gives you a selection of pre-recorded hypothetical musical tales to accompany your training, but I found these a bit off-putting if I’m honest.

What really got my adrenalin pumping was the ‘live tracking’ feature that allowed my training buddy to monitor my real-time progress and send me motivational ‘cheers’ messages while running. Feeling that you’re not alone while gobbling up road miles has been a really positive experience.



Creating my own Lumia music playlists to accompany training has also been a great stimulus (I’m still working on the final mixtape!), but I’ve also experimented with specially curated Nokia MixRadio playlists (check out ‘Running hits’), which were saved offline in the advent of a dropped network signal.


Also very important was how to carry my Lumia while training. I once ran with a smartphone in my hand; the heavens opened at the halfway point, you can guess the rest. Needless to say, I had to buy a new phone the following day.


For rain-related reasons and the sheer inconvenience of holding something when training, one of the first things I did was to invest in an armband sleeve – namely the Shocksock Reflective Sports Armband, which isn’t just waterproof and machine washable, but has a reflective surround that increases visibility on nighttime runs.


So, five days and counting. I’m going for a sub 1hr 45min. Wish me luck!