The chase is on! Runtastic introduces tailored stories to make runs more imaginative

The fitness app firm Runtastic has unveiled a new feature for keeping runners motivated: Story Running. Yes, instead of merely keeping pace with pumping beats, the Austrian startup thinks you might want to hear a suitably-timed tale instead.

Of course, these aren’t just any stories — they fit the length of the average Runtastic runner’s run (40 minutes) and, guess what, they all feature running. And it’s not just about running from zombies — there are fantasy stories, adventure stories, travel and motivation too.

While a traditional story will have some kind of three-act structure, these employ an interval training curve. This basically means the stories have been designed as training tools, and a picture will tell a thousand words at this point:

Runtastic Story Running structure

“Our writers created characters that have to run throughout the story, from the first to the last minute,” script consultant Ines Häufler, who worked with Runtastic on the project, said at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna on Thursday. “We can use your natural sense of urgency. There’s someone coming after you, the main character, then you hear dogs barking… we make your running routine a really new and exciting experience.”

Without having listened to one of these stories on a run yet, I can’t comment on the quality, but Austria’s Runtastic already has an established track record — founder Florian Gschwandtner said at the conference that Runtastic had seen more than 50 million downloads over the last 4 years, 35 million of which took place in the last year. The firm has clearly established an impressive pace.

What’s more, Runtastic has brought in celebrity voiceover artists, such as rapper Masta Ace, who narrates an adventure tale about escaping from Alcatraz (yes, I’m also wondering why that’s a matter of running rather than swimming). With this kind of calculated creativity, the Story Running feature could give Runtastic an impressive lead over rivals such as RunKeeper.

The stories are available as in-app purchases now. Here’s a video showing the idea: