Charity Miles—iOS, Android (free)
So now that I've got places to run and tunes to fist-pump to (between the waves of zombies trying to eat my brains, anyway), the whole trick is to just keep at it—day after day, run after run, sweaty mile after sweaty mile. I have a couple little tricks to force myself out the door. If I want to run in the morning, for example, I'll set my phone's alarm but won't leave it next to my bed. Instead, it's in my running shoe, which is next to my folded running clothes, across the room, in the doorway...where if I don't move it I'll trip over the pile and break my neck. The other handy trick I've been using is Charity Miles.
Charity Miles makes each run about more than just me (or my fitness goals). It tracks my time and distance with GPS, but not in order to chart my progress or weight loss or any of that. Instead, I pick a charity I want to run for, and go. For every mile I run or walk, I earn 25 cents for the charity I chose. (Biking workouts also count, for 10 cents a mile.) The money comes via a $1 million sponsorship pool of corporate donations, and the list of charities you can direct it to is impressive: Autism Speaks, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
The money comes from sponsoring corporations—$1 million is the initial amount users are running toward—and the app asks you to post thank-yous on Twitter and Facebook, but that's entirely optional (although a Facebook login is required). You don't even have to go a whole mile; the minimum distance is only 0.1 mile, so you can fire it up on almost any walk and get in the habit of helping while you move.
I know, my slow-but-steady 2-mile runs won't instantly solve world hunger any more than they'll cause me to wake up tomorrow 20 pounds lighter. But, hey, every little bit counts and the important part is that I keep at it, which is a little easier thanks to these apps.
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