Run Team Run, an app that has everything a running team needs.

In a sea of fitness apps and the connected fitness movement becoming bigger than ever, the needs of a runner are sure to have “an app for that” or so I thought. Below I am going to walk you through my journey of uncovering, designing and solving for a need that the niche market of running teams sorely had. I structured below to follow these five parts, Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Let’s dive in!

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Empathize —Learn about whom you are designing for.

Understanding as much as you can about whom you are designing for is instrumental in creating a product that meets and exceeds their needs. This requires you to look objectively from as many different people’s perspectives as you can. As for the niche market of running teams, I already had a head start because I am part of a running team. I knew the different perspectives that needed to be considered. There were two different persona’s to research about, the runner and the coach. I set out to learn as much as I could about them both, their contexts while running, their idiosyncrasies, their motivations, their frustrations, and any other details that I can uncover.

The Runner

Lisa’s printed instructions seem like a sure way to know where to turn, or so she thought.

Lisa is 36 years old and has been a nurse for the past nine months.

Lisa has never been an active person, but she wants to make a change in her lifestyle. She used to run on her own once in awhile, but two months ago she decided to take things to the next level, so she started doing CrossFit and also join a running team.

Lisa enjoys running, and she hopes that being a part of this running team will help her do her first marathon sometime within the next year. Her training is Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursday, she does speed training or hills and Saturdays she goes for long runs. For training, she always has her smartphone with her.

LIsa really cares about her pace. Every time she runs she tries to beat her previous pace. Currently she uses the program Runkeeper to keep track her runs. She’s trying to find a better app that shows her pace per mile, apparently Runkeeper doesn’t do this.

Saturdays training which are the long runs, have been a little challenging for her in every sense. She wishes she could run every Saturday to see her progress but because she’s a nurse sometimes she’s scheduled to work and can’t make it. However, the few times that she has made it she has gotten lost. For instance, last Saturday she was supposed to run 9 miles. Her coach printed directions for everyone, because she’s new and she goes at a slower pace than the other runners, she had no one to follow and the directions weren’t clear enough so she got lost several times. She was frustrated trying to find her way back so she really didn’t get to enjoy her run. Also, every time she stopped to asked someone for help her Runkeeper app didn’t pause her run so it messed up her pace. It was a very hot and humid day and she also wishes she knew exactly where the water stops were. It took her about 2 hours to find her way back.

The Coach

George giving some coaching before a track run

George’s full-time job is in media arts. George loves to run; he has been a long time runner, and he’s also a running coach for team Aussie in Austin, TX. He has been coaching team Aussie for the past two years.

Team Aussie has about 30+ runners; there are a couple of marathon winners as part of the team. George trains Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he focuses on speed work or hills and Saturdays training focuses on long runs. He feels when a runner speed gets better than getting more miles in will become easier.

On Saturdays, George likes to have all his runners to met at the company he works for. His company bought and old gym, there are showers, sauna, a basketball court, a climbing wall and a big kitchen. After the runs, he makes protein smoothies for everyone and has carbs treats too.

For Saturday run’s, George comes up with 2–3 different paths, for example, last week he gave two options; a 6 mile route and a 9-mile route. Each runner can select whichever route they want. I asked George how he comes up with the different routes; he told me he drives around and then he goes into Map my run, he creates the paths and shares them with all of the runners thru email. However, the email he sends out shows the path he created but doesn’t specify turns or details of the directions and that’s why he feels is better to have printouts of the different routes so that each runner can grab a print out in case they get lost.

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Define — Learn about whom you are designing for.

After collecting and organizing all of my data based on the user needs and insights I was able to create a point of view.

“People who are part of a running team currently use multiple ways to accomplish all of their needs. Let’s make an app that has it all in one.”

These are some of the solutions I want to target with Run Team Run that any other running app has:

  • Being able to see upcoming runs.
  • Being able to invite other friends to future runs.
  • Being able to come up with different running paths with using the app and have the app give you suggestions, total mileage, provide you with a history or most popular running routes in the area.
  • Being able to enter the location of the water stops within the path that’s being created and share with the team.
  • Use the navigation to avoid getting lost.
  • Being able to have a chat and communicate with 1 or more individuals at a time.
  • Being able to share your location as you begin your run and locate other runners at any time during that run.
  • Being able to make a payment to the team coach on time.

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Ideate — Learn about whom you are designing for.

At this point, I had to come up with creative solutions. I created a couple of scenarios “storyboards” addressing the point of view. I then created paper prototypes providing solutions for my storyboards.


George is the running coach. He spends a lot of time driving around to come up with the running paths for the team.
George starts using Run Team Run and realized is so much easier and less time consuming to come up with the paths using the app. It is also very convenient to be able to share the paths ahead of time with his team thru the app.

Paper prototype for the storyboard above:

George will now use the app to create the running routes. He will click and drag in a specific area in the map. The app will give him the milage. He will be able to name the route and share it with anyone.

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Prototype — Build a representation of your idea to test

I moved from sketching to a high-fidelity prototype. I wanted to gather all feedback on as much detail as possible.

Here is the prototype I used:

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Testing — Test your prototypes with users for feedback

I tested my app with several different runners. Their feedback was crucial to improving my product. I asked them to interact with the prototype and gave them scenarios to see how they will interact with the app.

Overall the testing went very well. However, when the following scenario was given: “You’re running with team Aussie in an hour. You forgot if the team was going to have lunch together after the run, how would you send a message to ask them” a few of the participants didn’t go into the “chat” menu but instead they went into “my running groups” to send a message.

I did a split test online thru I created an A and a B version and used the same scenario. I added a chat into “my running groups” and wanted to see which way the contestants will go about it.

Example of version A being tested.
Example of version B being tested. This participant went into “My running group” to send a message to the team.

Summary of my findings:
After watching the four videos of the user testing and the 2 in person tests from last week, I believe it will be great to access the messages to a person or group not only thru the “chat” menu but also thru “My running groups” or even “find friends.” I had half of the participants try sending messages either way. After interacting with users, I learned the importance of applying the Lean UX principle. Testing early and testing often is a great way to course correct the product design to assure I am hitting the target for what people want.

I feel “Run Team Run” is unique because it solves the issue of having to use multiple apps to be able to achieve a goal as a runner who is part of a team. With this app, you will be able to organize-create runs, communicate with your team, locate your running buddies, look at other runners performance and your performance, navigate your run, and set up coach payments.

It was a great journey, and I learned a lot. Not only about the Design Thinking process but about putting yourself into the shoes of others to be able to design and build a product that solves a real world problem.

I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts, please comment below.

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