Tech Tuesday

Motivator tech

Have you found your health and fitness motivation yet?  Or have you found it and it’s a fluctuating beast – sometimes on fire, sometimes a flickering candle, or sometimes even a canary in a mineshaft imminently and unpredictably snuffed out?  How do you get around that? – your brain theoretically wants to carry on your health journey, but your brain isn’t making your body do anything about it……

What are our motivators?

#1 carrot or stick (or both?)

The classics are the carrot and the stick.  Someone bets you £50 you can’t do a 10k race in 12 weeks time, you run after that carrot like it’s dangling in front of your nose on the race course.  Only 30% of us are motivated by the carrot.  70% of us prefer a good beating if we don’t do well.  

There are two American websites/apps that give you the carrot and the stick (and the accountability buddy):


Which, helpfully, does what it says on the tin.  You sign up, set a goal and pledge a painful amount of money to a charity of your choice if you don’t achieve it.  You ask an “accountability buddy” to be the arbiter of success or failure.  You get the money back if you achieve.

Flaw in the plan – you might subconsciously WANT the charity to have your money…..


Cruel and unusual but fixes the flaw in Stickk.  You set your goal, you pay money to OTHER USERS of the app if you fail and they succeed, and vice versa.  The flaw is the accountability – it verifies your activities on GPS data and photos, so you could cheat and get your mate to take your garmin watch running with them, as well as theirs……..

#2 competition

meg getting age-group trophy
winner!!! (trophies motivate)

Are you competitive?  The superbad-multitasker is.  I simply have to tell her I’ve been for a run for her to be lacing up her shoes & zipping off down the lane.  I had to promise I wouldn’t overtake her in a race (hahahahaha as if……..).  Well there are hundreds of apps for this.  The one that gets a lot of people going is


You can run or cycle.  You log in to the app, beetle off on your exercise and it logs and posts what you’ve done so you can compare with others, and with your previous efforts.  But the canniest thing they did was “strava segments” and “K/Q.O.M.”  Strava segments are defined routes and distances (often quite short) that anyone can go and race down as fast as possible.  You get ranked.  And it rankles if you don’t rank well!  King or Queen of the mountain paraphrases the tour de france.  Its a strava segment with a hill.

multi-tasker vs. hobbit – no contest

Trying to get up the rankings with these is a BIG motivator for some people – but careful it doesn’t take over your life…..!

#3 challenge

hobbit with the elves at norwich tri

This is firmly where I sit.  I’m not going to bother competing (mainly ‘cos my legs are so short I’ll lose!), but I will compete with my past self to improve and see just what I might be capable of.  At the beginning of last year I couldn’t run, I hadn’t cycled more than 2 miles in years and I swam with my head out of water.  But nonetheless I completed 6 triathlons (not in any great style or at speed, but I did it).  This year already I have managed to run (once) non-stop for 8km, which may not sound much but its the best I’ve ever done.  What tech can help you?  Well whatever fitness tracker you use and it’s app and also, if you go for a charity challenge they usually have amazing online resources.

Obviously you get added challenge if you have to raise money for a cause, and there are numerous websites to help you do that, including virgin money giving & our sponsorship page (plug!)

#3a Bling!

superhobbit's medals from 2016
bling! (medals motivate)

#4 intrinsic pleasure

Finally, you will keep doing something when you get the intrinsic joy of it.  So that’s why you need to spend time working out what will be on your personal healthy roadmap.  Once you do, I can tell you, there’s an app for that! (favourites include Zombies, run!)

#5 accountability buddy

what are friends for? looking stupid together

And if all of the above goes wrong, you don’t care about the money, the fame, the glory and it sure hurts more that it pleases, then you can always rely on your accountability buddy.  With huge thanks to YOU, to the superbad-multitasker and to wonder woman, I am still running.  If I didn’t have to blog here every Sunday and tell you what I’ve been doing,  if the superbad-multitasker didn’t keep running farther and expecting me to catch up and if wonder woman didn’t “like” my runs and send me exhortations to get muddy I would be sitting on the sofa. The tech to help you?


But most of the other apps let you link up with your friends and see what they’re doing and they can send you encouragement.  And that’s what friends are for 🙂 

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A tiny hobbit dedicated to saving the world with a decent second breakfast. Also, available to make you feel good in triathlon when you overtake her.......

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