Taking Visualization To A Whole New Level

Boston-based company offers a way to virtually run well-known race courses.

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Boston-based company offers a way to virtually run well-known race courses.

Do you have a treadmill that’s gathering more dust than mileage? Or is basement boredom getting the best of you as you run down the road to nowhere this winter?

Outside Interactive is a Boston-based company founded by Gary McNamee that offers treadmill runners a way to virtually run well-known race courses, popular running routes and in exotic international destinations from the comfort of their own machine.

With two innovative products–a Pre-Paced DVD series, as well as the more intuitive Virtual Runner Software–runners can break up the boredom that forces many to give up on indoor running altogether.

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The Pre-Paced DVDs work with any DVD player and treadmill. They’re menu driven and give runners the ability to pre-select the desired “pace” they wish the video speed to run. There is also an audio/mute option which allows you to either hear the natural sound that was recorded when the video was made, or simply listen to your own music. There’s also the option to start your run anywhere along a course (at a given mile marker), which gives you the opportunity to perform a number of different workouts on the same part of a course, or spread a number of workouts out along a particular course–say, Boston–over the course of a week. It’s pretty wild!

With the aid of a footpod (included), the Virtual Runner Software package dynamically adjusts the speed of the video based on the pace you’re running. As you speed up or slow down, the video automatically adjusts the pace so you can take in the scenery in real time.

All videos are shot from a runner’s point of view, giving you the opportunity to see popular race courses as if you were actually there. With landmarks, mile markers and even elevation prompts to let you know when to adjust the incline on your treadmill, you can simulate running up Heartbreak Hill from the comfort of your own home. Other popular virtual running options include New York’s Central Park, the Australian Outback at sunrise, rice fields in Bali, or a scenic sunset stroll along the shores of Maui.

“This is very cool,” said Eric Blake, the world -record holder for the marathon on a treadmill by way of his 2:21:40 clocking in 2006. “I actually feel like I’m on the course. With all the twists and turns, it’s like chapters in a book. You feel like you’re making progress. Without realizing it, you’re an hour in. That’s cool.”

“This is truly a game changer,” said Sharon Gayter, who sat a world record this past December for the most miles covered on a treadmill in 7 days when she ran 517.33 miles. “Running over 18 hours a day for 7 days while chasing the records, my biggest challenge was boredom. Outside Interactive has made great strides in making treadmill running more engaging and fun.”