Gamified running thanks to Run England Jantastic Challenge
At the end of last year like most people I was contemplating my goals for the coming months and having been a runner for number of years, the invite for the Jantastic Challenge by Run England caught my eye. I had been out of regular running training thanks to some health setbacks, injuries and a rather frequent traveller related works schedule, so getting back into running gently was on my mind. I was following Run England on Facebook and liked the regular motivational messages they posted about running, so I was always going to spot an invite to start the New Year with a regular running routine especially if it came gamified.
The challenge invited you to run better and faster, which was all the encouragement I needed to go and find out more. The invitation page included a short video explaining how it would work, what you would have to do and that it was free. For me that was a safe low barrier to entry and immediately they engaged me by letting me choose what kind of runner I was: new, occasional or regular runner.
Then the challenge home page explains why it is good to track and be motivated by a group of people running together and they actively encourage you to join others. Because I actually prefer running alone, I opted not to do this, but I did like the idea of active accountability and tracking, even at it’s most basic that would have kept me involved.
This is where Jantastic over-achieved on my expectations, from the very beginning it encouraged me to set goals and asked me how I was feeling about it. The graphical feedback of little charts in all honesty does motivate me. Here are my February statistics:
I find it great to have progression bars showing my weekly consistent goals of 3 runs being completed. In January all that mattered was to complete a number of runs, In February the challenge asked me to add distance into the equation and now for the month of March it is adding a timed distance race. I would have to admit if it wasn’t for Jantastic, I would probably have skipped my great intention of running 3 days a week. The external tracking assisted my internal motivation to stay on track.
The fact that I have also earned all sorts of fun badges, are just the additional surprise and fun factor that keep me going back to the website. I would definitely not have set a distance goal this early on, never mind a timed race, but now I do. There are days that the run really is no good, but then they are offset with the fun messages from this online system and the fact that when I check out the #jantastic feed there are other in a similar situation. The great additional bonus is that there is a potential in winning prizes, which I had totally overlooked but it became apparent at the end of January thanks to the social media posts and communication.
In gamification terms this challenge has badges, leaderboards and motivational elements. It was timed well with the start of the New Year when lot’s of people actually want to get fit, but most never make it out the front door. It added progression tracking, random surprises and motivational tweets and Facebook updates to keep you going, because they also know that at some point all runners will go through a bit of a dip in motivation. The built in community spirit for those running in teams or challenging others as well as it’s social media community make it a social event even for lone runners like me.
The Jantastic challenge plays on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in small doses and I would say the people who designed this system know the runner psyche rather well. I also find that this is what sets this challenge apart from other tracking apps I have downloaded on my iPhone, it is obvious the challenge is built for runners who understand runners, not just general exercise. Added with the social element the reason to stay in it is more compelling and I a rated against people in my age group, not just my friends who very often when sporty are a lot younger or fitter, which keeps me safely motivated to keep achieving mainly for me.
So as this month draws to a close I am delighted to report on my achievements, still on track 2 months in running 3 times a week further than I would have imagined. Earning badges along the way…
What challenge is keeping you going?