Three years ago I was training for Bogota’s half-marathon when my cousin Diego told me about an interactive personal trainer that he had recently purchased: Adidas’ miCoach. Back then I was looking for a new Polar watch to replace my old one, but changed my mind after listening to Diego’s description on how miCoach had transformed his running experience. It turned out to be the best training decision I ever made; miCoach did not only change my views on running and training, but completely rewired my brain making me a better, stronger, more strategic runner. In miCoach I found a tough personal trainer that in less than eight months allowed me to fulfill my personal goal of running a half-marathon under 1:50, improving my personal record from 1:51 to 1:42.
In order to maximize your workout results, miCoach offers several goal-based interactive training plans taking into account your age, physical condition, and time availability. It builds a plan comprised of diverse workouts designed to help you reach your goal, keeping your workouts fresh. After an initial test run, it sets up a series of workouts mixing four effort zones personalized to you, your body, and your preferred coaching method—by heart rate or by pace. miCoach relies on a heart rate monitor, a stride sensor and a pacer—an audio feedback unit compatible with MP3 players—to keep you informed and motivated during your workouts. It also records your speed, distance, pace and heart rate for later analysis.
When I started using miCoach I would often listen to my personal trainer telling me to speed up, challenging me to run faster. I remember how hard it was to keep up with the effort zones. However, after four months into my routine, the only warnings were about slowing down because I was often running harder than expected. My body had visibly changed in a very short period of time, and it was time to re-program my workouts because I was running at a whole different level.
miCoach’s interface is a good example of how gamification can be used to keep you engaged. Earning badges for achievements such as first 10.000 calories burnt or first 100 miles run, are great to keep motivation up. However, I believe that the way in which your progress is tracked and visualized is the strongest part of the system. It gives you valuable information about your body and performance that you can use to analyze and understand what is happening when you run, and more important, to carefully plan your strategy for a race.
Sharing with others is also an important component of the system and a great way to build community around sports. Although Diego and I lived in different sectors of Bogota, miCoach allowed us to train and meet our goals together, as teammates. For me it was as much about sharing tips and cheering each other up, as it was about collective data analysis and strategic race planning.
miCoach is a customizable personal trainer that helps you achieving your training goals, while keeping you motivated and informed. It transformed the way I prepare for races, pushing me to run harder and train better. Today, I am more aware of my physical strengths and weaknesses, and know that my body can overcome tough challenges.
(I am writing about the first generation of miCoach which I still use. Adidas now offers a wide variety of options for different sports.)