I came across Routeshuffle in an email from ProductHunt. "Create random exercise routes; made by a 15 year old runner" said the description. I personally love supporting kids' and young adults' dreams, and think it's one of the ways we can build a better future for all, so I clicked through and got to reading.
I'll let you in on a not-so-secret "secret" – I hate running. When I really sat and thought about it, the last time I ran without 100% focusing on how miserable I felt was way back in high school when it was part of PE or practice. Back then, I just got the distance done, sometimes talking to my friends while we "jogged" and other times just busting it out so I could enjoy a moment of peace during a water break in cheer practice. It got me thinking – maybe I need someone or something else to force me to run.
I have seen the Vi running coach and other similar products and programs - I don't think I'm quite ready to get on that level, but this Routeshuffle thing looked like it might be fun. Routeshuffle is designed to give you a random running, cycling, or walking route. I noticed that it was not an app, but rather a web page, and while I think that may be a drawback for some users, but we all have to remember – this is the dream of a fellow 15 year old runner named Riley, and we are privileged to maybe get to help him develop this into an app one day! The thing that really struck me was how simple and inviting the website is – it is organized, the font and color scheme are clean, and it is extremely simple. All you do is enter in your starting address, select/confirm the route distance you would like generated, and click "Generate Route".
I played with the site a fair amount while brainstorming my initial impressions, and I noticed a few important things.
Easily one of the most versatile features of the Routeshuffle program is the Premium ability to export in GPX, making it a really useful tool to pair with your existing exercise app. Top running and exercise apps like RunKeeper, Strava, and Endomondo support the ability to upload GPX files to create routes or provide more detail to your activity entries. Without this Premium capability, you are still able to view your running route, but cannot export – totally doable if you are able to remember a route and where to turn, like I am!
Saving routes is a bit interesting, as the program does not yet allow you to name routes. Your routes are instead labeled by distance and a clip of the map area. Another thing to be aware of is that when generating your routes, the desired distance you selected acts more as a guideline than a hard rule – you may get a route that is slightly longer than your desired distance, but it seems rare to get one that is shorter!
The other feature offered by Routeshuffle is the ability to turn on automatically generated "Infinity" routes. Once you enter your starting point, desired distance, when you want the route delivered, and whether you will run, walk, or cycle, the Routeshuffle program will automatically send you random routes on your chosen days. This is an incredibly inspired feature, one that could only be born of the mind of a runner who would rather spend time running than planning routes, which is exactly why creator Riley designed Routeshuffle. When you have running incorporated into your training routine, you might be running regular distances on specific days. Rather than stick with the same X-mile route to meet your distance goals, this Infinity option would provide you with random X-mile routes, kind of like your very own running coach, taking the time to give you new routes and challenging you to switch it up. At this time, you are only able to have one active "Infinity" request going, which means that you can only have one distance of route created. You can edit the existing request, but cannot add additional requests with different distances, which will hopefully be something added in later versions.
At only $5/month for a Premium Routeshuffle account, you probably wouldn't even notice this small addition to your monthly expenses. Personally, I see this as something to help me get the most out of other investments I have made, you know, like the very expensive Asics gathering dust on my shoe rack. The Premium account service is really where the RouteShuffle platform identifies itself as a standalone tool, rather than just an addition to your existing running app. You are only able to export your routes, save routes, and opt for the Infinity routes by signing up for a Premium account, but these three features make the $5 monthly cost more than worth it. Equally as important is that the funds from the Premium subscription directly open up opportunity for improvement, like bigger/better servers, and also validates the program so that creator Riley can afford to spend more time developing more features.
After learning what I could about the free version of Routeshuffle, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and signed up for a Premium membership. Signing up for the Premium membership is quick, and payment is done through Stripe for payment security. Enter your chosen login info in the payment page on Routeshuffle, a small box from Stripe will pop up to capture your payment info, submit, and you're done! Upon signing back in with your new login information, you will be taken to a special dashboard for Premium members. This Premium dashboard is where you will find your saved routes, create Infinity routes, and manage your account settings.
My initial impression is that Riley Walz has created something that the running community has needed for a long time. This program has a few small kinks that will likely be ironed out in months to come, but overall it is a really well-thought out program with incredible room for potential. For my own uses, I think that this program will help me make running a fun activity rather than a boring chore, and I think that is something many people can identify with, whether they run a lot or not. I look forward to updating this review with my impressions after using the program for a full month!