Introducing goal-setting version 1.0

Goal-setting is what bridges the gap between running casually and running purposefully. Whether you’re competing with your own personal best or toeing the line with other runners in an upcoming race, the first step to being ready is setting a goal.

For many runners, the most common type of goal is based on mileage. Some of us set a mileage goal for the year and we divide it as we see fit over the different months. Others prefer shorter-term goals and set their mileage at the beginning of each month. You can do both with Smashrun’s first goal-setting feature.

To set a goal, click on the prompt under the goal header:

set-mileage-goal

If you’re viewing your All Time stats, you’ll see the option to set a goal for the current month and the current year. If you’re viewing your 2014 stats, it will ask you for your 2014 goal and, if you’re viewing January, it asks for your January goal.

goal-details

Once your goal is set, unless you’ve got private stats, other runners will see it as well!

goal-is-set

If you’re a Smashrun Pro user, you’ll also know when you’re behind your mileage goal, because your number of miles in the progress bar will turn red and you’ll see an approximate value indicating where you should already be.

goal-missed

You can also edit your goals anytime just by clicking on it or, delete it by mousing over your goal and clicking the ‘x’ icon that shows up on the top right corner.

If you’re not yet ready to set a goal, no problem. It’s smart enough to know not to show up when no goals have been set, so other users don’t see it when they visit your profile. Although, you should really give it a try, because we’d like to see what sort of running goals you’ve got this year!

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Smashrun PRO

There’s always been this gap. A gap between the experience of your run and the way you see your run through your data. You had the run of your life, but it was your first run through hills, so your pace was slower. You sprinted faster than you’ve ever sprinted at the end of that last race, but somehow the graph doesn’t really capture it. You know you’re getting in better shape, but you’re also running longer runs than you did before, so your average pace is getting slower.

These are all our problems. Smashrun and sites similar to ours have the very important job of remembering your runs, preserving your accomplishments, and giving you the insights you need to grow and improve. If that’s not happening, that’s our fault. That gap between the reality of all of those hard-earned miles and what gets recorded is our responsibility.

Smashrun PRO is designed to narrow that gap. You should feel great about your running. The truth is simple. With each and every run, you get better. You get leaner. You get stronger. You go farther with less effort. You learn and get smarter. Sometimes, it’s really hard to say how that last run mattered. What would have been the difference if you just stayed home? We built Smashrun PRO to show you that difference.

Of course, it’s just a start. We want to keep improving Smashrun and Smashrun PRO, but we don’t have big VC’s backing us (or even little VC’s for the matter). We’ve got you.

So, if you know someone who needs a last minute gift, maybe a founding membership to Smashrun might be pretty cool? They won’t need a subscription or a credit card, and we’ll be happy to personally sort out any problems they might have getting started.

In fact, it’s worth noting that none of the founding memberships auto-renew. We won’t ding you unless you ask to be dinged. We also know that times are tight, especially this time of year. If you can’t do Smashrun PRO right now, maybe you could suggest us to one of your friends, or post us on Facebook or Twitter or a forum, or anything. We’re crazy busy building more cool stuff and we need your help getting the word out.

For a list of the pro features, go here.
To vote on new pro features, check out Headliner Features.

Happy Holidays!

Chris, Jacklyn, and Steve

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Arcos De La Frontera

A new direction
It wasn’t long after we first launched Smashrun before we had already started to formulate our ideas for The Next Big Step. Little did we realize then the sheer enormity of the scope of the project we were about to undertake or the scale of the commitment that it would require.

We filled notebooks with sketches. We diagrammed our ideas. We hashed out details over conversations that lasted into the wee hours of the night. And slowly, ever so slowly, our ideas began to take shape. We wrote project plans and architecture specs. And then we began developing and refining the technology that we would need to make it all possible.

But all the while, time…continued to pass. And as it passed we made decisions large and small that would allow us to optimize our lifestyle — decisions to maximize our productivity, to increase our man hours, and to multiply our efforts.

These choices ultimately led us on a path from NYC with its myriad glorious distractions and sky high cost of living, to a startup incubator in Chile. Then to the suburbs of Virginia Beach, and now finally to Arcos De La Frontera, where we’re making our new home while we’re arranging the final details, before taking the wraps off all that we’ve been working on.

Arcos? But why Arcos?
Arcos is our new home base, an Andalusian white town nestled precariously on a precipice and bounded by cliffs on two sides. It is a stupidly romantic place to base a startup. It’s infested with postcard worthy vistas, riddled with winding cobblestone streets, and flowers seem to dangle from every ornate cornice. The streets are literally lined with orange trees for the love of God! Speaking of whom, it’s worth noting that this tiny town of a mere 30,000 people has seven churches, and not one but two towering gothic Cathedrals. To be frank, it has all been a bit overwhelming, what with, coming here directly from the sprawl of suburban Virginia, with its comfortingly familiar landscape of strip malls and big box stores.

There is, of course, no Startup community. There are no VCs. And the nearest angel investor is probably a few hundred miles or more as the ridiculously romantic Arcos doves fly. But, of course, the beauty is we just don’t need any of that. We came here to build. Although, sometimes when explaining that to locals, we’re met with looks of bewilderment.

“Are you building a website about Arcos?”

“No. It’s about running.”

Pause..then sudden comprehension. “I see, of course, a website about running in Arcos!”

“Err…no it’s about running anywhere in the world.”

At this point it becomes clear, that our Spanish must be lacking, or they must have heard wrong. Because why would anyone come to Arcos to build a website?

Well here’s the answer. Arcos is that rare, and contradictory place in the world which is utterly inspiring, yet entirely devoid of distraction. Working into the evening there’s no tempting good time to be had. There’s nothing we’re missing out on. And during the day, although there are sites to be seen, we saw most of them in the first couple days after we got here.

However, (and this is the really amazing bit) if you need to clear your head, to see things from a different angle or to break through some mental funk the answer is simple: you just look out your window at one of those ludicrously scenic vistas, or you take a short walk around the ancient and timelessly beautiful block and, suddenly, you’re transported. Your thoughts coalesce. Your focus returns. And work proceeds with renewed vigor.

A crazy, mad, really quite very silly hill
And then, of course, there’s the running. Oh man, is there some running here. There’s this one hill that leads up the side of the cliff face to the cathedral. We’re using that hill to calibrate a “Level 9” hill difficulty on Smashrun. It kicks off at a 20% grade, and only rarely lets off, but the bit that’s not over 20% grade is hardly noticeable. Well, what with all the the sweat dripping in your eyes and the light-headedness precipitated by oxygen deprivation.

Each time I run this hill, I make it just a few steps farther than I did the last time before I have to start walking. Let me say that again. Before I have to start walking. No. Not slow down, not dig deep and find my inner champion, but walk….slowly…very slowly. And, when I start walking (very slowly) I don’t start running again, because quite frankly, I would have a heart attack and I would die on the spot. And then I would roll head over heels for next 10 minutes until I reached the bottom of the hill. And then this hill, this level 9 hill, would probably send a boulder rolling down after me and crush me with a kind of grim finality usually reserved for cartoon characters and blockbuster movie villains. You know, because, there’s a slim chance that some prospective hero who knew CPR might be happening by, and this is a hill that doesn’t take chances. It is just that kind of a hill.

Anyway, this is really just meant to be an address update blog post, but I seem to have gotten a bit carried away. If perhaps I haven’t painted quite a clear enough picture in your mind you could watch this video.

Readers note: I actually can’t say aloud, or even think the word Arcos for that matter, without doing it in the accent of the narrator of this video. “ARRRRRCos!” It’s just perfect.

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Smashrun update

We released a quick update this evening with a few changes.

Added a Half Marathon distance to the speed ranks
This has been a really popular request, since well, I don’t know, the day we launched the ranks. Well it’s finally done, a half marathon is now a ranked distance. The history graph for the new data point will be blank to start off with but they’ll slowly fill in starting today. So if you’ve ran a half marathon in the last 90 days it’ll now help you toward earning a speed medal.

Streamlined the header design
Nothing drastic here, but we dropped some of the clunkier styles, and made things fit a little tighter, so it should be a little nicer on the eye.

Tweaked the pause detection algorithm
We were sometimes picking up pauses where there were none in the Garmin import of some watches. This should hopefully be resolved now. Pauses are just really hard to detect in general, because they’re frequently not explicitly defined, so you have to make educated guesses. With each release we’re improving our guessing techniques.

Upgraded site infrastructure
We do everything we can to ensure the speed and overall reliability of the site!  To this end, we upgraded the operating system of our web servers and upgraded the version of our configuration management framework as well.

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Quick patch

We were down for a few minutes tonight as we pushed out a quick patch tonight to address a few minor issues.

Here’s the rundown for those that are interested:

  • New comment font on the “by run” page that’s easier to read and supports most European languages, and falls back to native fonts for CJKV character sets.
  • Fixed login issue with IE10. If you’re still having any problems with this browser let us know, so we can get to the bottom of it
  • Fixed charts in IO7 (unfortunately there’s still a bunch of issue we have no way of fixing). Maybe (hopefully) a patch from Apple will resolve these soon.
  • Some users may have gotten robbed of their Corleone badge in some circumstances. There’s a fix here to address the issue going forward, but unfortunately there’s not enough data to fix it retroactively. Sorry about that all.
  • Their was an issue with timestamps being off for some Garmin imports, especially treadmill runs. This should now be fixed.
  • The 7 day trailing weekly mileage chart was actually an 8 day average (we were counting today and 7 days prior). This should be resolved.
  • Under some circumstances manually editing your run could reset your METs in your heart healthy report to 0. That’s fixed, and you should now always get all the METs your earned.

Thanks to everyone who reported bugs. Your feedback is invaluable, so keep those reports coming, and we’ll try to resolve them as quick as we can.

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Embed a running chart in your blog

There’s quite a few patches, and changes in this latest release. Here’s the rundown:

Embed your running data charts. We made a quick and easy interface for adjusting and embedding any of the charts on your dashboard onto your own blog.

A new import via email address. We’ve added a new email server to handle the runs you import through email. We’ve got a new address to go with it @smashrunimport.com In the future, any runs you want to import from email will need to go to this new address.

GPX/TCX import fixes. We’re constantly monitoring the files that try to get imported into Smashrun, and everytime one fails to import, we attempt to diagnose the issue. The problem is that a lot of the times, the files are just impossible to import because they’re missing some critical information.

We’ve added a lot of new errors that, hopefully, will explain exactly why your files aren’t importing as opposed to just failing blindly. We’ve also tried to patch around the bugs in the apps where ever we could. That means, for example, that Runkeeper export files should now import with the correct time stamp (despite the fact that it’s formatted incorrectly in the file).

New login pages. We’ve updated our login pages, lightening the colors and shrinking the font.

Closeness to getting badges. We’ve improved the algorithm for calculating the badges you’re closest to getting, and fixed some bugs with the distance to go in the staircase badges.

Weighted average pace. The average pace shown on the the overview pages is now weighted by the distance of the run. Can’t believe it took us this long to get around to this one. Sadly, if you’ve been running short fast runs, and long slow ones (like most people do) this change will slow down your average pace. But, hopefully, it will make the trends you do spot over time more meaningful.

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Trailing miles and Weekly running reports

We’re introducing two new features that we think will help you see your running in a whole new light and, perhaps, motivate you to keep improving. Of course, since that’s pretty much our raison d’être, it’s safe to say we’re super excited!

The trailing miles chart
This new chart replaces the cumulative miles chart and it’s calculated in three different ways depending on the calendar view you’ve selected. As you drill down through each view — from all time, to a single year, and then a specific month, the framing of the chart will change from trailing 365 to 90 and then to 7 days. Each view is meant to provide insight into your training that might otherwise be difficult to spot at a different scale.

There are a few interesting artifacts of trailing time frame charts. For example, you might be running a lot right now, but your graph could still be plummeting. This is because looking at the direction of the chart doesn’t answer how much you’re running right now, it only answers the question Did you run more miles today than you did 365/90/7 days ago from today? If you did then the last point in your chart will be going up, otherwise, no matter how many miles you logged today your chart will still go down.

So why is it useful to look at your cumulative miles in this fashion? As it happens, there are entirely different changes that occur to a runner’s physiology over different training periods. By viewing your cumulative miles over each of these periods you can gain different insights into the state of your running.

All time view |  Trailing 365 days (Structural Conditioning)trailing365

Fully zoomed out. This is the 10,000 foot view of your running. Let’s call it the grand arc of your running. This view provides you with the great (or, in my case, rather modest) story of your running. Smashrun can handle up to a decade of running data, so the scope of this chart can be pretty huge.

This chart washes out the day-to-day, or even week-to-week bumps in your training, and lets you focus on the big picture. In addition, your total mileage on this chart is a really good indicator of the long term structural adjustments your body made in response to that training.

The classic changes to body composition that occur for runners (leaning of your legs and arms,  flattening and toning of your midriff, hips and chest) happen slowly over a long time period and they also unwind slowly when you stop training. Because of this, it’s almost certainly true that at the apex of your trailing 365 day chart you looked, to the casual observer, more like a runner than at any other point in time.

This chart is actually a pretty good proxy for your body’s changes in response to your running but, in addition to body composition, other changes happen in this kind of time frame. Your body’s ability to handle training load, your running form, and your runner’s IQ, all gradually improve and are slow to diminish.

One year view  |  Trailing 90 days (Aerobic Conditioning)
trailing90

The vast majority of your aerobic conditioning comes from just the past 90 days of your training. Go without any exercise at all for 90 days and, regardless of what condition you were in before, you’re going to be struggling that first day out. Whether you’re training for a race or just want to maximize your performance, the trailing 90 day view is what you’ll want to look at.

That said, it is of course also true that raw miles are only part of the story. How you train matters at least as much, but we’ll have to save that analysis for the future.

One month view |  Trailing 7 days (Goal Setting)
trailing7

This is pretty much the only view that you can actually manage day-to-day. You’ve set your targets. You know how many miles you want to hit each week. This view is the one you want to look at to see if you’re on target. Think of it like weekly goals, for every day of the week.

Speaking of weekly stats…that brings me to feature number two of this release.

 

The weekly email report

The weekly report email is designed to help you hit your weekly miles and motivate you to get back at it when you fall behind. We’re motivated by food, so we baked that into the report. Here’s what it looks like.

weeklyReport

 

A few things to note:

  • If you don’t run for a given week, you’ll instead get The Weekly Non-Running Report that provides all sorts of interesting stats about your non-running.
  • The run list highlights your fastest and longest runs that week
  • You can choose the flavor of your food equivalent from Vegetarian to Bacon and everything in between (Chocolate, Seafood, BBQ, Booze, or Dessert)

What are METs?

When you’re at rest. Totally at rest. On your back. Eyes closed. Dead still. Your body is at 1 MET per minute. Stand up you jump to 2. Have a walk around you’re at three. Start running and you can be at anything between 5 to 15 METs/minute. Run for 20 minutes at a 5 MET pace. You’ve just earned 100 METs. Why do you care?

Well, virtually all health and fitness-related research is measured against METS. And virtually every positive health effect of fitness increases as you increase your METs per week. Want to reduce you chance of cancer, heart disease, psoriasis you name it, up your METs.

For heart disease, what matters is consistency. The American Heart association recommends that you exercise for 500-1000 MET minutes every week to dramatically reduce your heart disease risk. The weekly running report will track that for you and let you know how often you hit that goal, which is really pretty cool, because heart disease is the #1 cause of death. Number 2 is cancer and increasing your METs can reduce your chances of developing many of the most common types of cancer as well.

So there you have it. Run. Use Smashrun. Run more. Keep on living to run another day.

 

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Build Better Training Habits

With Smashrun, our goal has always been to help people become better runners, but “better” is different for everyone. Sometimes, it’s as straightforward as adding a recovery day or balancing hard runs with easy ones. Other times, it’s not so obvious, like getting enough sleep or keeping track of what you eat.

Recently I’ve started using an app called Lift to help me to “pay attention” to some of the habits that might help me improve my running beyond just logging the miles.  It’s pretty basic. You check a box when you keep a habit. I thought maybe some of you might find it helpful, so I set up a Smashrun group there if anyone wants to join me.

We’re starting off July with three fairly simple habits, in addition, to running: exercise, eat a balanced diet, and sleep before midnight. Every month, I thought we could focus on something new like proprioceptive cues, running drills or plyometrics (oh my!).

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Run Annotations

Users with GPS data can now annotate their runs within route maps!

Annotations allow you to identify events or points of interest within a specific run. It’s got some pretty awesome use cases including, but not limited to:

  • Tagging water stops on a race route
  • Noting the distance marker(s) where you paused because of a stoplight
  • Indicating where the hills are located along a trail
  • Elaborating on u-turns because of dogs and/or geese

It’s also super easy to use! Start by going to a recent run with a route map and click on the outline of your map. Once the map is loaded, just click on the notepad icon on the top left.

Notepad icon

The icons across the top of the modal are your different markers. Mouse over each one to see what they represent. The slider shows you where the annotation goes. You can also associate a sentiment (good, neutral, or bad) for all the different icons.

Annotate your run

We made descriptions optional, but it’s much nicer to mouse over an annotation and see a little tooltip about that part of your run.

Mouse over markers to see tooltips

Editing your annotations is also very easy. Just click on any of the annotations you added (or mouse over it and click on the tooltip, if you added a description) and that will reopen the modal. If you change your mind about the annotation, you’ll also see the option to remove it while editing.

Edit your annotations

Check it out and let us know if you have any questions. In addition, we also released a patch that should sort out the mismatched “fastest runs of a similar distance”, which affected a couple of users. Otherwise, we hope you like the new feature!

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Garmin integration and GPX, TCX, HRM support

After nearly 1,000 hours of coding, testing, retesting and a lot of feedback from our Garmin beta testers, Smashrun has finally released Garmin integration with added support for GPX, TCX, and HRM files!

Garmin users can import their runs by linking their Smashrun account to Garmin Connect under settings > Synced Devices. Just remember to set a minimum import date before you click sync to prevent duplicate runs from being imported (in case you’ve been using the TCX2Nike+ importer).

Runs can also be imported individually or in bulk by uploading a GPX/TCX file, which is accessible by mousing over the gear icon on Overview > click ‘Import file’.

For information on how Smashrun processes GPS data, there is a separate FAQ section that addresses questions regarding pause calculations and distance discrepancies.

If you don’t currently run with Garmin, but do run with mobile apps, we can import app data as long as they provide GPX or TCX exports. You can find a Smashrun-friendly app in the App Finder, or if you’ve been thinking about switching to a device but need to weigh the pro’s and con’s, check out the apps vs. devices section on Run Tracking 101.

Again, thanks to all of our beta testers for helping us fine tune Garmin integration! And thanks to everyone as well who take the time to give us a heads up when things don’t quite work as they should! Our user emails keep us on our toes and we’re always on the lookout for ways to make Smashrun a better place for runners.

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