Train With the Marathon Man
Rahul Matta’s app Tempo is helping runners (like him) keep the pace.
Tempo – Run & Walk Workout Log
Train smart. Build fitness.
‣ Company: Indie Computing Labs
‣ Founder: Rahul Matta
‣ Mission: To give you comprehensive running data that’ll keep you going.
‣ App launched: 2016
‣ Team size: 1
‣ Go-to emoji: 🏃
Runners are all about pace—and Rahul Matta’s has really been picking up.
His app Tempo started out tracking running speed, course, and distance—then expanded to do much more. Today it takes that baseline data and extrapolates all sorts of granular details: the number of miles you’ve covered over the past 365 days, your average pace and duration over a custom time period, and an “intensity calendar” that shows how hard you’ve been pushing.
It’s the sort of deep-data dive that could only come from an accomplished runner like Matta (who’s finished 16 marathons). “Working on this felt like a dream,” he says. “I can build quality software and run at the same time.”
We spoke to Matta from his home in Boston, where he’s hoping to run the vaunted Boston Marathon soon.
Which came first for you—app development or running?
I started running marathons in 2005, but when my first daughter was born I took a break. After a while I thought, “OK, I have to get back into this.” This was in 2015, when Apple Watch arrived on the scene. I was tracking my runs with it and wondered how I could get that data onto the iPhone. I started building Tempo as a side project to create a training log for myself.
What’s your design philosophy with Tempo?
I built it with an emphasis on privacy, design, and not populating the app with random chaotic stuff. In those early days, I built more and more based on feedback from the small community that had found Tempo.
What’s some of the most helpful feedback you received?
One of the key things on the home screen is the intensity calendar, where you can see how hard you’ve been running. I have a friend who never goes beyond that screen, and I hear from others who say, “Seeing those dots fill up keeps me going.” Knowing folks are running more because of Tempo is more important to me than having the most subscribers.
How has Tempo changed your own running?
In many ways! I never expected to look so carefully at heart rate zones or cadence tracking.
What’s it like being your own test user?
I ran two marathons using Tempo as my primary training log. As I was running, I would think, “Oh, it would be interesting if Tempo did this or if I could see my splits this way.” When I’m working on Tempo, if I don’t see the right data, the only way to get that data is to do that workout. I could go into the Health app and add it manually, but it’s like a private nudge to get out there. This is my work, and this is my life.
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