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Run with anyone, anywhere using Running Club

September 7, 2012

Running Club app (@runningclubapp) lets you do virtual runs (and bike rides and walks) with friends that are physically located elsewhere during the run. By integrating with the Health Graph (@healthgraphapi), Running Club has guaranteed that you can store and use your run data on your platform of choice and with other activity tracking apps such as RunKeeper’s own (@runkeeper).

Bill Day: Please tell us about yourself and your app.

Eric Piazza: I’ve been a software developer for a little over ten years.

Most people assume that I am also an avid runner, but actually the opposite is true: I have a hard time getting motivated to run. But this lack of motivation was actually the reason I got the idea for the app. I found that the only time I would get out and run consistently was when I had a “reason” to run. Joining a local running club with some friends was a great motivator, but with two young kids and work piling up, I found I was missing more and more runs. With all the technology available in mobile phones I thought “Why can’t I just run with my friends through the phone?”. I got together with some colleagues and about nine months later the “Running Club App” was born!

BD: What is the “elevator pitch” for why someone should use your Running Club app?

EP: The Running Club app can be thought of as a “virtual running club” where people can schedule live, interactive runs with friends and other runners around the country. What makes Running Club unique from other apps is this live functionality, where users can actually see their progress compared to others during a run, and have a live group chat with everyone before and afterwards. Running Club uses a “dot race” style visualization to show how far everyone in the activity has run in real-time.

Note also that the Running Club app can also be used for other activities such as Cycling or Walking.

BD: How did you get started using the Health Graph API?

EP: I am also a RunKeeper user, and during our development I saw a newsletter featuring a handful of apps from the RunKeeper app section. I knew that integrating Running Club with Health Graph would be a great way to get existing RunKeeper users to use our app, while allowing them to continue to track their data using RunKeeper.

BD: How is using the Health Graph benefiting your business?

EP: The benefits of the Health Graph are obvious.

From our perspective, we are able to better reach our target audience, both through visibility on the RunKeeper app pages, and also through the Health Graph posts themselves. When a user posts a result from our app to the Health Graph, all of their friends can see they are using the Running Club app, and hopefully they will turn around and try it themselves. RunKeeper users benefit as well since they have the ability to use Running Club, but keep their run data in their existing system.

BD: Which portions of the Health Graph API do you use?

EP: We use the feature for posting activity results.

BD: What do you like about the Health Graph? What would you like to see changed?

EP: It’s a really innovative idea that allows smaller apps like us tap into the huge RunKeeper community.

The API was easy to use and integrate. The only change I’d like to see at the moment is to allow a post without actually providing activity data (an informational post). For example, for Facebook and Twitter, when someone signs up for an activity, they can automatically post information about the upcoming activity, something like “John is running 5K at 7:00 PM tonight, join him *live* in the Running Club App”. We are not able to make a similar post to the Health Graph platform because results information is required.

BD: Can you share any future plans for Running Club? What’s coming next that your users will be excited about? Does the Health Graph play a role in that, and if so, how?

EP: We are currently working on Running Club 2.0, which will include some really neat new individual features as well as voice updates as you run.

BD: Is there anything else we should know about you or your application?

EP: You really have to try a group run to fully appreciate the Running Club app. There is nothing else like our app on the market, and the social experience you get from running “with” your friends in other parts of the country, or meeting a new running partner is extremely satisfying.

To give you an example, the other day I was in a 5K run with a friend from New York, and a friend across the world in Dubai. I knew both these guys but they didn’t know each other. We ran a 5K, and they both finished within 5 seconds of each other (they left me in the dust). They liked the motivation that they got from each other and have been scheduling runs together on a regular basis since then.

Cross-posted from the Health Graph blog.


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