Back in 2000 Sean Radford had an idea to develop a piece of computer software that would help you train for your running event from a 10k to an ultra-marathon.
But the tech-based innovation was ahead of its time and so he put it aside to concentrate on his NHS career working in hospitals across the East of England.
Fast forward to 2016 and the technology has caught up and his idea is now ‘TrainAsOne’ a system which he believes will revolutionise the way runners will train.
Sean from Gressenhall, in Norfolk, has been working full-time on the project for the last two years, with high hopes it will progress from its beta testing phase into a fully-fledged app.
So how does it work?
“You would sign up and give us access to your data and we would take feeds from Strava and Runkeeper,” Sean says. “We want to do Garmin next. We do offer the ability to manually upload the data as well.
“We gather some simple demographics and while this is going on we start to download the data and do some simple analysis and ask further questions depending on the results to get an idea of your capability.
“Currently you can download it and use it with systems such as Strava to help you develop a bespoke training programme. At the moment we don’t have our own native app, we do piggy back off other devices and use the data from those. We are in the process of building our own app.”
Brought up in Hertfordshire, the 45-year-old settled in East Anglia after working as a doctor in hospitals in Norwich, King’s Lynn, Bury St Edmunds, and Ipswich.
A keen mountain marathon runner, though not able to run as much as he used to – the father-of-three took part in last week’s Snowdonia Marathon, finishing in 3hrs 46, while his wife is also an Iron Man triathlete.
But he is keen to dispel any notion that TrainAsOne is solely for use by hardcore runners.
“We are not just about competitive runners. The thing about TrainAsOne is that it’s completely all-inclusive,” he says. “We do have some ultra runners, but equally we have got people who are just beginning running.
“Currently it is geared around training for a race, and it will train you. It will ask you how much time – how many days and minutes – do you want to give to your running and once you have done that it will send you a provisional plan. In 99pc of cases the first one will be an assessment exercise.
“I really had the idea back in 2000, and I first registered it then. I started building it, but the technology wasn’t right, so it got dropped.
“When I got into running and was going through the usual problems, I went back to first principles using my doctor’s knowledge, read up all the research papers and taught myself how to run and train, and then how to train other people.
“Most people don’t have the time, inclination, or background knowledge to research this. When I looked at what was available on the market, I thought ‘we can do better’.”
Thousands of runners have signed up to use the programme and TrainAsOne has also been nominated in the technology/app category of the 2017 Running Awards.
CLICK HERE to vote for TrainAsOne in the 2017 Running Awards
So the next stage will be how to develop it as a business and which monetisation model will be used.
“It’s completely free, we don’t sell any of the data at all,” Sean says. “As an initial step, we would try it as a subscription model and see what happens before we start looking at alternatives.
“The idea is that plans up to 5k will be free. Our feeling is that these are the people who want to get into running.
“There’s more people doing park running now, and if you can get enough of them hopefully enough will convert. I would like to be in the position to start telling the subscription early next year.”
“We do intend to do more than running – triathlon is on the cards and there are other sports we can apply it to
“In six months to a year’s time we would like to have our own mobile app on Android and IOS. Hopefully we will be doing cycling as well by then.
“I would say we would be generating revenue by then in some shape or form. It’s now a case of refining the user experience so that it’s a lot easier for non-technical users.”
Even during our phone interview, 17 people had signed up to use, it with thousands already signed up.
“It’s amazing to think that a piece of software is achieving so much for these people. I have been working on this full time for two years now. All of the core AI has been developed by myself.
“I get feedback all the time from people. It’s amazing some of the things they say. One marathon runner said he wouldn’t go anywhere else now because the training has been so fantastic.”