(Jacob Rumans) #1

20 RUNNER’S WORLD JULY 2018### PERSONAL BEST^ TRAININGNOTLONGAGO,I stepped onto a treadmillat an urban gym, and decided that a workoutcalled ‘Beast Mode’ – a pre-recorded,30-minute endurance session on the iOSapp Studio – was the class for me. Nevermind that I was supposed to be taperingfor a half marathon, or that I hadn’t set footon a treadmill in years, let alone run withheadphones. This was an app. For treadmillrunning. How challenging could it be?The dance music crescendoed, andinstructor Justin Koodish counted down – 5,4, 3, 2, 1! – and I was moving. Hard: 6:30 pace.My threshold. For three kays straight. Thetreadmill shook. Self-consciousness grippedme. Where do my feet go? Why does the airtaste weird? Look out the window. Streetvendors. Taxis. Runners! Runners running inthe sunlit streets, untethered and free. Why amI not out there? Or, as Shinedown – one of theenergetic bands on Justin’s playlist – sang inmy ears, “Why you always running in place?”But between Shinedown, Sum 41, and LitLords, there was also coach Justin’s voice:“Keep your footfall right underneath thehip.”“Shorter strides, higher cadence.”“Chin up, chin up! Where’s that breathing?Gotta use that diaphragm.”“Three minutes to go – keep pushing!”Weirdly, it worked. Hearing his advice(taped and impersonal though it was), seeing``````other runners on the app’s leaderboard, andknowing that the speed and incline were allultimately under my control kept me going.And not just through those three kays, butalso the pounding intervals that followed.Perhaps it wasn’t so weird. This is, afterall, what Studio and a new crop of appsand interfaces aim to do: make treadmillsexciting, engaging, and fun. If you runoutdoors year-round, it’s tempting to thinkof this as a niche, but it’s a huge niche. Thetreadmill market is worth at least R47 billionand growing. And because up until now themachine experience has consisted mostlyof watching a red dot blip slowly around atrack, there’s room for improvement.Over the course of a week I tested Studioand Zwift, both app-based treadmill trainingprogrammes; as well as the Peloton Treadand NordicTrack X22i treadmills, where thesoftware is integrated into the machine. Whilenone was perfect, together they convinced

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