Fantasy Pilgrimage

The idea was born out of a pretty simple observation: social fitness apps can be frustrating. My experience was that I would want to encourage friends and family to run, and we’d link up on Endomondo, and they would quickly be discouraged that they didn’t get the milage in that I did. Pointing out that I was slower, or that I’ve been running for more than ten years met with the sort of feigned understanding that people give you when they just want you to stop talking.

So, while running — which is when I do my best thinking — I got to pondering how people could connect and encourage each other without feeling so ‘competitive.’

Wouldn’t it be great if we could set our own relative goals and then just see progress towards that goal?

Initially, I imagined an app that was just a series of bar-graphs. Not very engaging. I can’t imagine many people would open the app more than once.

For a long time, the idea died. Just one more problem where I could sense that a solution would be a great idea, but that I couldn’t reach it. Not a big deal, I have plenty to work on and someone else can have some good ideas, too.

And then I wanted to go to Rome. I like Roman history, I’m learning Latin. I want to go to Rome. But, it’s so much money and time away from the family… At first I thought I’d do it at some indeterminate future date, then I thought maybe I should use it as a reward for myself.

The answer hit me: A virtual run to Rome. If I completed the mileage to and from Rome, I’d grant myself a long weekend there and not feel bad about it. After all, often I’d go for a long run — 20km or more — and think it’s a shame I’m just going in a circle. If I could store this distance up and get use it all at once…

So, in a rambling nutshell, that’s the idea: an app or a webpage where you can say “starting from here, I’d like to go to there” and have it keep track of your progress, telling you things like “you’re now entering the Alps!” and “Grüzi! You’re in Austria now!” as a motivational thing.

It would be less competitive — if you’re a new runner, just use a shorter distance — and not limited to running. My brother is a teacher and walks a ton, why not let him count that towards his activity?

Another idea for me to work towards.