Put Your Money Where Your Run Is

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I ran for 30 minutes today, just so I wouldn’t be charged $5.

For real. I’ve mentioned this in passing before, so this is where you get the full run-down: the secret to year-long, regular workout motivation.

Several months ago, I started using an iPhone app called GymPact. (They just released an Android version January 1, so don’t stop reading just because you haven’t enslaved yourself to the Apple empire.)

It works like this: to sign up, you give them your credit card number. Then you make a “pact” to work out a certain number of days a week. Then you agree to be charged a certain amount ($5 minimum) for each day of a missed workout. If you pledged $5 and said you’d work out three days a week but by midnight on Sunday you only have two: that’d be $5. If you said three and only worked out once: say bye bye to $10.

But if you meet your pact, you get paid a little.

What happens is, the folks at GymPact collect all the charges from those who didn’t meet their pacts, then divide them among those who did.

How much money you’ll get each week depends on three things:
a) how many workouts per week are in your pact (the more, the better),
b) how much you pledged per missed workout (again: the more, the better),
c) how many people missed their pacts and got charged.

My setup is four days a week at $5 per missed workout (or run), and usually I get about $2 a week. For the first several weeks, I had three days/ week and my payout was between $1.20 to $1.50, but I figured: I’m training anyway, why not up the ante?

These past two weeks, the payouts have been a wee bit higher. Naughty-naughty, guys, skipping out on the gym during the holidays!

So what counts as a workout? First, note that the pact is for the number of days you work out, not the number of workouts. So if you’re into the two-a-days type of thing, sorry: only one of those will count.

That said: Any time you go to the gym (as long as it isn’t a home gym), you check in with the app – similar to how you check in with Foursquare – and as long as you stay in for at least 30 minutes, you’re good.

Or, you can sync up with RunKeeper and any activity (running, walking, cycling, etc) that’s at least 30 minutes long and covers at least 2 miles counts as a workout. Cha-ching!

I’ve been loving the free money so far and am “saving up” for a new pair of running shoes!

But I do have a few GymPact pet peeves, if I may share:

– Any time you complete a workout that doesn’t count towards your pact (for example, one that’s shorter than 30 minutes or an activity entered manually in RunKeeper), GymPact sends me a notification on my phone and an email. I got it, OK? I’m aware. People don’t like receiving messages that basically tell them “you failed” — but have little actual use, since chances are they already know about it.

– Speaking of usefulness: what I would appreciate is some sort of a reminder towards the end of the week if I’m on pace to not meet my pact. For example, if I have to work out four days a week and as of Saturday morning I only have two workouts, send me a note: You better watch out! Unless you work out today and tomorrow, you’ll get charged.

Other than that, though, I have to say: I like getting paid a wee little bit for running regularly, and I also like that if I don’t, I have actual hard-cash motivation to get out and do it.

And now you know why I run.

Of course, I also run for this:

[avocado goes on everything. or so it seems, once I get in the 16+ mile long runs]

Your turn: How do you motivate yourself to work out? What’s your favorite food to eat the evening before a long run?

Today’s run:

4 thoughts on “Put Your Money Where Your Run Is

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  • January 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    That’s a pretty cool concept. I’m going to check it out! The way I motivate myself is similar to the way you would motivate a 4 year old. I have a calendar with each day’s training goals listed on each individual day. If I achieve the goal (workout that day) I pull out a pretty highlighter and put an “X” through the day. If I miss the workout, I put a big “O” through the day. I get giddy when I see all X’s and no O’s for the week/month/etc. Pretty low tech and lame but it somehow works for me 🙂

    • January 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      I do the calendar thing, too! (Except I do checkmarks vs X-es) It’s very practical, too, since I have an at-a-glance view of my training plan for the whole month.

      I think the best way to motivate a four-year-old, though, is with candy or gifts? 🙂 [Hey! Same as motivating a grown up!!]


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