Split Hitter Android App for Runners

UPDATE: Split Hitter is now available for download on a “pay what you like” donation basis, all proceeds to benefit DFMC.

My wife is a running coach. Because I get her services for free, I thought I’d give something back by creating something that might make her job a little easier for her work with paying clients. One of the tools she uses is as useful to her as it is cumbersome to handle. It’s a collection of running data that begins with men’s world record times at the following distances:

  • 2 miles
  • 5 kilometers
  • 5 miles
  • 10 kilometers
  • 15 kilometers
  • 10 miles
  • 20 kilometers
  • Half marathon (13.1 miles)
  • 25 kilometers
  • 30 kilometers
  • Marathon (26.2 miles)

With this data forming one column in a spreadsheet (along with a corresponding mile pace and 400m split for each pace), she has 49 more columns of data for other times for each distance, beginning with the world record and each column decreasing in speed by 2%. Here’s a snapshot of the raw data she takes with her to the track, which continues across several pages:

She uses this data to train runners for a variety of different time goals for a variety of distances. Based on a given distance and time (such as a race or time trial a runner has already completed), she looks down the appropriate column for an appropriate time goal and corresponding pace for a different distance. For example, if a runner has completed a 10k in 30:04, a good 10-mile goal is 50:02, which translates into a (very fast) 5:00 mile pace and 1:15 400m splits (a quarter mile, or one lap around the track).

Of course, stretched across a number of pages, you can see how difficult this can be to use (especially in the rain!). Wouldn’t it be great if she could have an app on her Android phone that would take the given input and give her the appropriate pacing data for a specified distance? And while we’re at it, why not include the 1200m, 1000m, 800m, and 200m splits as well?

I’ve been fooling around with Google’s Android App Inventor and thought I could handle this on my own, but when it became obvious that I was in over my head, I consulted Paul Barry, the author of O’Reilly Media’s forthcoming (soon!) Head First Python, to see if he had any tips (he’d been working on other Android examples for the book at the time).

As it turns out, he was looking for a sufficiently complicated project for the last chapter of the book, so this request provided a particularly juicy challenge for him. In the end, he got a great chapter to end the book, and I got an app for my wife and her coaching friends to use, so everybody wins (especially the Python learners who buy the book). Here’s a quick demo of the new Android app in action:

It’s just about ready for primetime, and I’m also planning to release it as a web app soon, for those who are unfortunate enough to not have an Android phone. Stay tuned to the new Split Hitter website for the official release, and follow me on Twitter for the announcement and updates.

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