The first social fitness site I used back in 2008 when I started running was Dailymile. Six years and 8,609km later, it’s still the place where most of my running community can be found.
I was a Dailymile user almost from the start and helped spread it through my running group back in 2008. In those days it was a pretty simple service.
After a run, you entered your distance, and the time it took you to run it, plus a note about how the run went. Dailymile figured out the pace for you. Then you chose one of the faces that represented how you felt – from happy to injured and everything in between.
That was it.
There was no Garmin upload, no maps or route maker, no fancy graphs of your cadence or vertical oscillation.
Because of that simplicity, the community aspect was front and centre. Beyond adding your workout, comments and encouragement were key to the experience of using Dailymile.
Over the years other services came along. I used MotionBased when I got my first Garmin GPS watch. It was nice for digging into your performance and seeing where you ran well, and where you didn’t. But there was no community at all.
Garmin eventually bought MotionBased and it became Garmin Connect and the lack of community continued. In the meantime, Dailymile added the ability to upload Garmin workout files, along with adding a mapping feature that let you plan out your routes, or measure your distance without one of those fancy and expensive watches.
The Smartphone Era
Fast-forward a bit more and the advent of GPS on the smartphone changed things again. Apps and services like Runmeter, MapMyRun and Strava came along that tapped the power of the smartphone to provide the same run tracking capabilities that used to require a specialty GPS watch.
I dabbled with all of those services, and settled on Strava as my favourite. It was updated frequently, looked good, and had some nice analysis of the Garmin files I was uploaded.
But my community isn’t there. For that reason, for the last two years, I’ve triple posted all my workouts to Garmin Connect, Strava and Dailymile.
Support the Indie Web!
My trip to Portland last month for XOXO Fest was a real eye-opener for me into the world of the indie developer and maker communities.
These days I get my coffee at Louie’s. I use ThinkUp to analyize my social streams. I use WordPress for my blog.
Garmin is a huge company with huge resources and is in the business of selling you more gear while locking you into their proprietary platform. Strava is a VC-funded company that built a great product but seems a bit too willing to sell your data out the back door for profit.
All the while, Dailymile has continued on, bootstrapped by Kelly Korevec and Ben Weiner – just a couple of friends who had an idea for a social fitness site and turned it into reality.
In the same way I choose local and indie for my morning latte, I’m choosing to use Dailymile to track my runs.
Complaints…I’ve Had a Few
I’ve been critical of the lack of updates on Dailymile for the last year or so. But a good email conversation with Kelly yesterday reminded me of similar emails back and forth in 2008 when I first joined a little service that had a lot of promise. Kelly and I had a few email conversations back then about different things I wanted to see in the service. Many times, those things appeared not long later.
It’s easy to sit back and complain about the lack of updates. But one thing I’ve learned in my 18 months as Product Manager at Hover is that you can’t do everything you want to do all at once. It takes time.
I’m frustrated daily by the pace of change of my own product. I know that Kelly and Ben feel the same way and after talking to Kelly, I know that they are committed to making Dailymile better for me and all the other runners that use it every day.
I’ll continue to use Garmin Connect as the way I upload my data from my watch and as a backup for that data. Strava will continue to get that same data automatically for the same reasons.
But Dailymile will be my fitness social network of choice again going forward.