As someone who runs a couple times a week, I’m at the point where I’ve created a well-worn groove around my neighborhood. When I’m out jogging I know I’m going to pass the same dogs, the same trees, and the same coffee shops. While there is comfort in routine, I figured it was time to spice things up by running through Zion National Park with Apple Fitness+.
In a perfect world, I’d pack a bag, head west, and actually run through the pink canyons of Zion itself. I’d breathe the fresh air, dash along raging rivers, and maybe even see a deer or two. The next best option, though, is turning to Apple’s Time to Run series on Fitness+ which takes you on jogs through the coolest spots on the globe in a storybook, podcast type of way.
Time to Run is part of Apple’s Collections, aka their curated workouts that help you reach certain goals. As a jogger — and one who’s plodding my way through half-marathon training — I was into the idea of running (albeit virtually) through interesting locales as a way to add interest to my routine. I was also intrigued by the idea of having run coaches share training tips along the way. The program’s goal? To help you run better and more consistently, all while learning about these interesting destinations. I had to try it out — keep reading for what it was like to run through Zion with Apple Fitness+.
What Is Apple’s Time To Run?
Apple’s Time to Run is a unique workout series that takes your weekly jogs to national parks as well as cities and towns around the world in the form of a guided virtual run. Each location features its own upbeat playlist, running tips from trained coaches, and fun facts about the area to help transport you to each destination. Think of it as a podcast or audiobook combined with a workout track.
The routines last between 30 and 60 minutes and range from easy jogs for beginners to tougher, progressive sessions. If you’re wearing an Apple Watch, the workout will track your pace, heart rate, and route so you can keep an eye on your progress. If you’re using your phone, you’ll see your workout on the screen, as well as photos from the location you’re running through. You can do the runs anywhere, whether you’re in the mood to jog outside or on a tread.
Wherever you decide to actually log your miles, the app takes you out into nature with runs that snake through destinations like Zion National Park, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, and the Great Smoky Mountains, but if you’re looking for more of a city vibe, there are plenty of options there, too. Try a 60-minute waterfront run around the San Francisco Bay with Coach Sherica, for instance, or a 30-minute sesh with Coach Emily through the town of Portland, Oregon. You can jog through Brooklyn or Memphis, or go abroad to Berlin, Sydney, Paris, or Rio De Janeiro.
If you have an iPhone, you’ll find Fitness+ in the Fitness app. For $9.99 a month, you’ll get access to Fitness+ meditations, strength training workouts, HIIT routines, yoga, and more — as well as Time to Run. The app allows you to organize all of your runs, tracks your health metrics, and sends reminders so you’ll come back for more.
As a big fan of national parks, I knew I had to try Coach Cory’s run through Zion. While he went there in person to create the workout, I was thousands of miles away at home in Philadelphia. My weekly runs see sidewalks, skyscrapers, and flocks of pigeons — not mountains, rivers, and sandstone pillars. As I started jogging down my usual street, I wasn’t sure how (or if) I’d really feel transported to Utah.
This particular run is broken down into three segments: prepare, push, and peak. Coach Cory starts the workout with a warmup before moving on to three songs at a moderate intensity, two songs at a harder intensity, and a final all-out push. For most of the sesh, music was pumping into my AirPods that matched the speed I was supposed to be running as a way to simulate dashing up a mountain. Cory popped in at the start of each new song to offer running tips and to set the pace. For the first song, he suggested I run on my toes with a light foot strike — and that tiny tweak made a huge difference.
Throughout the workout, Cory also dropped facts about Zion and even shared his own photos of the area’s mountains, rivers, and wildlife, which popped up on my screen. The run took me from the bottom of the canyon to the Zion Welcome Center, along a river, and then up a mountainous incline. Much like listening to a podcast or audiobook, I used my imagination to picture it all — as I jogged around my same ol’ neighborhood — and it did a decent job of transporting me. (The photos help a lot.)
Even though I wasn’t actually in Zion National Park, I was able to pretend thanks to Coach Cory’s pictures and commentary, which really worked to spice up my usual jog. More importantly, though, this workout pushed me to try new things, which is what I liked the most.
My running routine has been stuck at the same speed for literal ages, so it was nice to change things up by matching my pace to the music and following Cory’s form suggestions. It genuinely felt like I had an encouraging trainer by my side the whole time.
After trying Time To Run, I’d say the longer, progressive runs are a good choice for seasoned joggers who want to take their training to the next level. And the national park runs are perfect for summer, especially if you’re in need of a mental change of scenery. For me, I’ll be heading to Yosemite during my next training session.