While I have not been so thrilled at the number of sub-freezing morning runs these past couple of weeks, and I have truly relished the couple of warm shorts & t-shirt runs these past couple of days … I cannot ever see myself exercising inside again, unless injury or extreme weather demanded it. But for many, including a good friend at work for whom joint issues derailed her running habit, each morning includes some time on the treadmill.
Now imagine that instead of watching CNN or reading a book, your treadmill time could include heading up Heartbreak Hill on the Boston Marathon? Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Well, that is exactly what Outside Interactive is trying to do. By using a foot pod to control the pacing they take you through the race or course of your choice and even tell you how to adjust the incline of the treadmill to match the route. And the video is displayed on your iPad through the app monitoring your pace.
Here are some details of how it works:
Virtual Runner’s patent pending technology is designed to work with a runner’s existing hardware. No special treadmill is required. The Virtual Runner app is downloaded to an iPad along with selected course videos. A footpod is attached to the runner’s shoelace and a wireless receiver is plugged into the user’s iPad.
Once the app is launched, there is a brief countdown and then the course video begins to play on the iPad or HDTV using Apple Airplay. While running, the footpod transmits the runner’s stats to the iPad. The receiver then sends this information to the Virtual Runner software, which adjusts the speed of the video. If the runner runs faster, the video will speed up. If they slow down, the video will slow down, all to the exact pace of the runner. In addition, an on screen dashboard displays overall time, average pace, distance run and cadence. Heart rate is also displayed if the user wears an optional heart rate monitor.
The audio component contains the actual natural sounds captured when the footage was shot, which are not affected by speed change. Users can also listen to their music playlist if they choose. Runners have the option of starting anywhere along a given route by mile or kilometer or saved state, so a course can be broken up and covered over several runs.
The Virtual Runner app is available for $9.99 at the iTunes Store with the videos ranging from $4.99 to $9.99 and up for noted races and marathons. The app is compatible with accessories utilizing ANT+™ wireless technology. These accessories are what interactively drive the Virtual Runner app. ANT+ is the de facto standard in wireless for sports watches and accessories in the health and fitness industry from such manufacturers as Garmin®, Timex®, Adidas®, Wahoo Fitness® and Suunto®. With these accessories, the user interactively and accurately controls the video speed. If the user does not have or wish to purchase these accessories, they still have the option of manually setting and adjusting the video speed to match their pace by an onscreen slide control.
Check out this video of the Boston Marathon:
There are a bunch of other videos, tutorials, and other information at the Outside Interactive website.