If you’re a runner with social media, chances are that you’ve seen the RunDot ads inviting you to participate in their research and receive a two-month training plan for free.
I’m a marathoner who signed up through this ad, and here’s why I didn’t use RunDot in the end. Spoiler alert: the app is buggy and you have to give your credit card information.
What is RunDot?
RunDot is an AI- and data-driven training platform that creates personalized training plans. They claim “better results in less time with fewer injuries.” Their website homepage states that RunDot athletes “improve an average of 3.2x more than non-users and experience performance improvements in 30% less training time.”
The “Dot” in RunDot stands for “data optimized training.” Their take your past training data to create a plan, and they then evaluate your execution of that plan.
The company was created by the founders of TriDot, which is essentially the same thing as RunDot but for triathlons. TriDot has been around for about a decade. The two website homepages are extremely similar and cite the same stats. (They likely pulled the improvement stats from TriDot, especially since RunDot is only a few months old, as far as I could find; that said, it’s unclear how exactly they analyzed performance improvement data to arrive at those numbers).
Pricing ranges from $13 to $149 per month, depending on your race distance and the level of support needed (the highest tier gets you a dedicated coach).
How Do You Get the Free Training?
The ads going around basically offer you the $29 tier for free, for two months. This provides a personalized plan based on your training data for one scheduled race up to a marathon distance.
If you click on the link in the ad, you’re taken to a brief application where you provide some demographic information, your past training, and your training goals.
I was accepted to the project just 3 days later, and sent an email to claim my spot and set up my account.
After you create your account, you’re asked to sync your past data. RunDot can sync with Garmin, Strava, Apple Watch, Fitbit, Polar, Suunto, MapMyRun, and Rouvy. Unfortunately, you can’t sync COROS data.
You then get 2 weeks of a free, personalized plan before the real 2 months starts. But, there’s a catch!
Is the “Free” Training Plan Really Free?
To activate the free, 2-month training plan, you have to sign up for a subscription and give them your credit card info. You won’t be charged upfront, but you will be if you forget to cancel after the two free months.
This is a very typical “intro” subscription bonus—sign up and it’s free at first, but then you get charged later. That said, RunDot is not upfront about this at all, and they market it just as two free months, without mentioning that you need to sign up for a subscription and give your credit card information.
You’re also giving them really valuable training data to improve their product. I’m not sure how far back they sync your activities, but it could very well be all your training data. Of course, they have to have your data to personalize your plan, but it makes the deal feel like an uneven exchange since they’re benefiting from potentially years of your data while you get two months free.
Is the RunDot Project Worth it?
The app was extremely buggy for me and hard to use. I unfortunately didn’t take screenshots of the app before I asked for my account and data to be deleted, but the interface was clunky and some important things didn’t work as they should (it took me several tries to add my upcoming race).
I also felt that the plans were too high intensity for me as someone who’s coming back from an injury, likes to add in cross-training, and has lower mileage for a marathoner.
Because the plan is personalized based on your training, you also can’t see more than one month ahead.
In the two weeks I had free access, I only did one of the interval workouts, which I thought was okay but too focused on speed for a distance runner. In case you’re curious, it was a warmup, 40 seconds at approximately mile race pace and then 3 minutes recovery pace (repeated 5 times), then a cooldown. (Note: it’s entirely possible that this is not exactly the workout recommended; I went back into my Strava since I don’t have a RunDot account anymore. I remember the workout being kind of confusing in the app).
All in all, I felt like signing up for the project was a waste of my time, and I didn’t like that RunDot was benefitting from my data without me actually using the app. So, I asked them to delete my account and data, and it seems like they did since I can’t access my account anymore.
I think the app could be useful if you’re looking to get ideas of workouts, but it seemed too buggy to be used as a dedicated training plan for an upcoming race. I don’t think it would be worth the money if you’re only using it for the occasional workout idea.
Where to Find Free Running Training Plans
I’ve never been one to follow a training plan (I just liked the personalized element of RunDot), but here are plans that I’ve heard have worked well for others.
Hansons (Marathons, Half Marathons, and 10ks)
Boston Marathon (Beginner to Advanced Marathon
Hal Higdon (Marathons)
Runner’s World (Beginner to Marathon)
Feel free to suggest any in the comments that worked for you!
I hope this post was helpful in explaining why I don’t recommend the RunDot Project. I didn’t find information on this before I applied, so I’m hoping I can save other runners some trouble.
Let me know what you thought of RunDot if you tried it!
If you want to follow along my training, here’s my Strava profile.
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