I distinctly remember the first National Running Day. It was in 2009 and I had a stress fracture in my foot, so I did not run. The following year I was on a break from running and once again did not run. After that I made it a tradition to never run on National (now Global) Running Day.
Besides having very real reasons to not run the first couple of years, I hated all the hype. I have a very contrarian personality, and the idea of running on National Running Day when I was already a very committed runner felt obnoxious.
Well, fast forward 13 years and I have not been a committed runner for about five years. However, I have just found myself if a running streak since March 17th. This is highly unusual for me. Even when I was a serious runner, I would not go more than about 10 days of running in a row. Even when I had a super neurotic college cross country coach, I would not have made it more than a couple of weeks.
So what happened? I started running with a Move2Earn App called Stepn.
Stepn started out as a hackathon project and has turned into a massive web3 project. It requires buying into the project with an NFT that is an image of a sneaker. When I bought in, the entry point was around 10 SOL, which converted to about $1,000 USD at the time. Now the entry point is as low as 4 SOL, and SOL has taken a nose dive, so it's only about $200 to buy in.
Besides my first shoe, I also added some additional funds to accelerate my accumulation of shoes. There is a lot of gamification in this app that involves breeding two shoes to mint a third, buying and selling, leveling up, and perfectly timing runs throughout the day. I encourage you to read the whitepaper if you are interested in the project. All in, I have put just shy of $2,000 into the project and have only pulled about $200 back out. I could have taken out the rest of what I put in along the way, but instead of I have decided to continually reinvest in the app to build up my shoe supply and the level of my main earner.
The appeal when I first bought into this project was the huge earnings that the early adaptors were raking in. I would get mesmerized by screenshots of people earning what converted to almost $1,000 USD/day by just walking, jogging, or running. It was amazing. However, since then SOL has gone from over $100 to right around $40, and the in-app token that everyone was cashing out has taken a pretty steady nose dive.
However, I am still stepping out the door to run once (or twice) a day and am completely addicted to upgrading and minting my shoes. The questions is, why?
I have had a few incentivized fitness apps in the past, usually provided by my insurance provider. My first introduction to this concept was the Oscar health insurance app, which we had back before National Running Day even started. That app paid out in $20 Amazon gift cards each month for hitting 10,000 steps per day at least 20 days. Currently my health insurance provides an app called Sharecare that also pays out $20/month for walking 7,500 steps per day at least 20 days. Additionally, I have dabbled in Sweatcoin, which is mostly garbage, though they are trying to get into crypto (just not in the US).
I started thinking about some Tim Ferriss podcasts I have listened to the in the past where he encourages staking money as an incentive to accomplish goals. I can't remember any of the companies he has recommended, but the Stepn app has become the perfect example of this. I have to rise and grind every day because I have a strong desire to both level up my shoes and slowly take my money back out at the same time.
Why not just use self-motivation to run? I have been running for almost 30 years. I currently live on the same trailhead that I lived at when I started running in the 90s, and it gets boring. I no longer have a racing schedule. I no longer live on the perimeter of Central Park. I no longer have my large group of friends that also live on the perimeter of Central Park that I can meet at 6:30 every morning before work.
I tried getting a dog. I tried starting small by committing to just 1 minute of running every morning. None of that worked. So here I am, investing in myself by literally investing money in a project that tricks me into running everyday.
Happy Global Running Day.