Don’t worry, you’ve not missed my channel relay swim – not even I’m stupid enough to do it in this temperature – that’s in July. Instead I’m talking about the new Speedo app that helps you to track your swimming and lets you set challenges to complete. The current challenge I’m working on is to swim the channel – and as you can guess by the title of this post I’ve only got a quarter to go (or 10,355m).
I only downloaded the app fairly recently – in fact I’ve only recorded 13 swims using it so far – but from what I’ve seen I really like it. The visuals are clean and crisp and you can really see how you’re getting on, especially compared to your recent activity as it shows you the last five weeks in a nice graphic.
For a while I used to track my activities using Fitocracy, which gives you points for different completed workouts and then enters you into different leagues. The problems I had with that (and the reason I left and ultimately deleted the app) were:
— It didn’t learn, it was easy for me to get lots of points for swimming, but I’d get very few for running. Yet as a swimmer my running workout may well have been harder for me. It should have added an algorithm to allow it to learn.
— I found the people I was in the league with (and to be fair to the app, I had chosen them), were either non-stop athletes and so always way ahead of me, or were lapsed trainers and so usually a long way behind me.
— If not careful I would do workouts to gain points and not because it was part of my training routine. I’ve been on a purge and removed any apps that found me “playing the game” for its own sake – which is why I’m no longer on Foursquare either.
So, does the Speedo app solve these issues?
Well, it is much more of a personal tracking tool, rather than a gamified app – which I much prefer. Ultimately my workouts are personal to me. I have my own goals and I don’t need to win points to feel good about achieving them or not. However, there are still a few tweaks that I would like to suggest:
— As well as the big challenges (eg swimming the channel) allow me to set my own workout goals – for example I want to swim at least 5km per week, let me track that and challenge myself on that.
— Make it easier to “meet” people. I don’t want to be pitted against them, but the Fitocracy community did introduce me to a few people that I now follow and chat to on Twitter. This one may just be a critical mass issue for now, but some form of “chat” should be added to the app I think.
— Finally, and most importantly, within the challenges there should be a Windermere swim. It’s England’s longest lake, let people challenge themselves to swim it!
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