I have never been great about getting in regular speed or interval workouts, instead falling into a pattern of just running by feel all the time. But it’s been especially bad the past couple of years when I haven’t been training for any specific races. So getting a two-week trial to use the Charge Running app has been good for reminding me that those workouts are beneficial, they can be fun, and they always feel like an accomplishment when completed.
In a nutshell…. Charge Running is trainer-led running workouts. You can join into live runs or hop into one of the numerous on-demand runs (previously held live classes). You can do your run outdoors or on a treadmill. The most important key is that you either need an Apple Watch that connects into the app to monitor your progress or you need to help your device on your person so it can use the motion data to calculate your pace/distance.
There is a specific Charge Running app that needs to be installed on the Apple Watch too. When you start the Watch app, it sits on the screen telling you to start a Charge Running session, even if you are already listening to the trainer explain things and guide you through a few warmup exercises. That made me think it wasn’t working properly, but once you actually start the run (or once the trainer starts the run, I should say) then your stats will show up on the watch screen.
You can see the schedule of upcoming live classes and sign up for one in advance, which can then be placed right in your calendar. At the correct time, you’d better be ready to get moving. Open up the Charge Running app and the trainer will coach you through a few warm-up moves and then the run gets going.
There are a wide range of run types for different goals. Tempo, interval, steady endurance… for all different run levels. There are even walk-to-run programs. And since everything is effort-based, not pace-based, any fitness level can use it. You could always drop in a note to your trainer at the beginning of class to explain that you are just starting out, or recovering from an injury. Maybe they’ll give you some feedback custom to that based on your cadence or pace.
I found that I like the on-demand classes a little more than the live ones. Mainly due to the fact that I’m not sure I like my pace called out during the run. Especially because one run I was running at a 7.7mph pace on my treadmill and the trainer said, “Good job Jill, I got you at a 9:28 pace.” And that irked me, all I could think was “No! I’m not running this interval at a 9:28! That makes me the slowest one right now and I promise I’m running on this treadmill at a 7:47 pace!” That’s a me thing, maybe I should do more live classes to get over that!
What about if you pre-register for a class but can’t make it? I had that happen when I had scheduled a class for my runch break, but then had a meeting scheduled on top of that. So I went in to the app to cancel. I like that it tries to encourage you to get your run in without using shaming tactics. (Seriously, those types of approaches for something as dumb as a newsletter signup are ridiculous. “Sign up for this newsletter. – Okay, I want to be a winner. – No, I’m a loser and will never amount to anything.”)
If you’ve got a healthy battery, a 40 minute class should drain around 20% of your battery. I haven’t attempted to do an outside run with this because the cell phone service is spotty near my house. (I live in Las Vegas and yet I have coverage worse than some rural communities I’ve been in. Seriously AT&T and every other provider, get on this! Or Las Vegas, approve the building of more cell phone towers!)
I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with this app. My free trial expires at the end of this week. It will cost $14.99/month or $9.99/month if signing up for the entire year. While I’ve enjoyed this app, I’m not sure I’ll sign up right now, but I would definitely consider it in the future. But I will definitely get a couple of more Charge Runs in before the week is up!