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Making a giant leap: introducing strength training.

29 March 2023
Christophe Roosen is the co-founder and coach of Trenara. Runs a marathon in 2:31:34. Follow him on IG @chroosen.
introducing strength training

Various blog posts took you along on our UX-journey to redesign the app. And while we’re not done yet, I think it’s time to take a deep dive in what will be the first very concrete update of your customer journey.

As a copy writer once said when we launched the app: Trenara is not just a running app. He meant that we do more than display data, we analyze them to make you a better runner. But with the introduction of strength training, we’re really living up to that tagline.

_ Why incorporating strength training?

The idea isn’t new, but the timing now is perfect seen our whole UX-review. As a coach, I’m 100% convinced that you shouldn’t only just run. Because like it or not, running is an injury-prone sport. Even the most tailored plan won’t guarantee you an injury-free journey, whether you get that plan via a private coach or an app like ours.

When you train for certain goal, whether that’s your first 5k or your 20th marathon, you should prepare your body for the physical/mechanical load it will endure. Running in itself will make you stronger, but it has a high impact on the body’s structures.

Since a couple of years, I’m combining running with strength training and I’m certain that that’s one of the main reasons why I keep progressing as a runner. 

When you become stronger, you’ll get more economic and consistent in your running. And consistency is key to become a better runner.

Note that I’m not focusing on injury prevention, I’m talking about becoming stronger. Injury prevention is one aspect of strength training, but not the main focus. 

_ The importance of working with experts.

I’m very proud to announce Maarten Thysen as your new strength coach. Over the years, Maarten, a physiotherapist, has built a whole legacy at the elite sports level. A quick overview: Maarten was present at 7 (!) Olympic Games since Beijing 2008. Some of the world’s bests rely on his expertise, to name two: Bart Swings (Olympic gold in speed skating) and Nafi Thiam (double Olympic gold in the heptathlon). In 2022 he won the ‘Vlaams Sportjuweel’ for his role as an enabler of elite sport performances.

I got to know Maarten during the Track & Field World Championships in Eugene. Seen his track record, I was a bit nervous to approach him for a collab. Little did I know that he not only knew about us, but he also immediately saw an opportunity to work together. 

Since our first talk, I’ve experienced his passion for sports at all levels and his sincere interest in our app. Notwithstanding his busy schedule, he is very keen to work on the project. 

And like the athletes he works with, he likes to deliver. He immediately started thinking about how it needs to be fitted in the running plans, the need to assess fitness levels, consulting literature to make the plans evidence-based and not just ‘by feel’, …

So, one of the world’s bests is now designing a strength plan tailored to you. Pinch me in my arm, will you?

_ How will we do this?

There are hundreds of apps out there that offer strength training. Very little offer personalization, almost none link it to your running plan.

When I explained to Maarten how the app works, and that we wanted bridge the above-mentioned gap, he designed a framework how we could integrate strength training in Trenara.

First of all, he emphasized the importance of an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Without such an assessment, there’s no way to deliver a personalized strength plan. And if there’s one thing we agree on: we won’t do ‘standard’ things. 

After a self-assessment, we’ll score you on the different muscle groups and combine certain exercises to form an integrated strength plan. 

How the plan is composed, also depends on your training periodization – during the last weeks of specific training, strength exercises won’t be as challenging as during the base building period. 

We call it three dimensional. For example: you can be on level 2 for single leg strength, level 3 for core, and level 1 for the other muscle groups, making it 2 dimensional. Adding that third dimension, the periodization, makes it a perfect fit. Maybe even a fourth: if you have strength training equipment, you’ll get a different set of exercises.

It also means we have to take a lot of variables into account. But that’s how we like it 😉

_ Visualization

Although strength training is a ‘secondary’ feature – you’re advised, not obliged, to follow it – it is very well elaborated in the app.

  • The self-assessment isn’t data-driven like the current fitness calibration we use for running. We need you to go through different routines, video is key to show you as a user how the exercises need to be performed.
  • Strength training can be started within the app itself, unlike a run
  • Because of this, you get the chance to set a reminder in the app
  • You can add a metronome to help you to pace your effort and follow a rhythm

The first wireframes are designed and it’s looking goooood (in Dutch, sorry)!

_ Timing

We want to launch this feature before the start of the summer. That gives us about three months – which is pretty ambitious. Our app firm will even put a new squad on the project to meet our deadline.

To me, this all shows how far we’ve come. A ‘secondary’ feature that’s elaborated like it’s the core of the app, designed by one of the world’s bests when it comes to strength training.

Yet another reason to upgrade your subscription to Peak Pro!

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