Day in the Life: VP of User Experience at Runkeeper + DJ

Hi Everyone! Today, I would like to introduce you to Tom Boates. I’m so excited to feature Tom today to give you a perspective of what it’s like to work for startup company in the wellness field and to also shed some light on what motivates him to stay healthy and how it puts it into action each day.

Fun fact about Tom: In addition to his full time role as VP of User Experience at Runkeeper, he’s also a DJ! Make sure you catch his awesome mixes at His music will inspire you to get moving!


For most of my life I was active unintentionally. As a kid, I just loved playing outdoors.  Organized and pickup sports, riding bikes for paper routes and later as a mode of transportation until I had a license, climbing trees, and hiking with my family are just some of the outlets for my activity.  That mixed with a pretty high metabolism meant I was always in pretty great shape and never really had to worry about what I ate.


Then came my 30’s.

Much to my dismay, it became MUCH harder for me to maintain my weight let alone lose any of it.  Luckily, there were a few things that have helped me out:

1.  RunKeeper RunKeeper is a mobile app that uses the phone’s GPS to track your outdoor fitness activities and keeps you on target to achieve an active lifestyle.  As one of the earliest members of the RunKeeper team (and the current VP of User Experience), I was forced to get out and run with the app not necessarily because I really wanted to run but because I needed to test out the product and put myself in real world situations so that I could best design for our users.  In addition, the atmosphere at the company is infectious with people who care a lot about health, wellness, and mostly running.


2.  My Fiancé – This past December I asked the woman of my dreams to marry me (thankfully she said yes!).  In addition to all of the other wonderful things about her, she is far more intrinsically motivated than me to work out or go to the gym.  This has made it much easier to maintain a consistent schedule of working out because when you have someone very close to you who is holding you accountable it’s hard to say no (this is a strategy I know that has worked for many friends as well, in case you’re looking for new things to try!).


3.  Adult League Sports – For a while in my 20’s I was heavy into league sports. There was a point in time where I played anywhere from 1 to 5 games of softball on Sunday, Volleyball on Monday, Dodgeball on Tuesday, Basketball on Wednesday, more volleyball on Thursday, and then gave myself some rest on Friday and Saturday before starting all over again.  For me it was just something I loved doing, but looking back on it it was also my exercise during that period.  If it was more cost/time effective I would absolutely choose playing sports over going to a gym any day of the week (though I understand it’s not always quite the same caliber of workout).


4.  Breeze Because of the nature of my work, I have tried out just about every well known fitness wearable you can get and they have all left me disappointed.  When RunKeeper set out to solve the problem of daily activity, we created an awesome app (I know I’m biased, but it is!) called Breeze that uses the iPhone 5s to keep track of your daily activity, just like a fitbit or FuelBand would.  While going through the product development process I learned that small choices really do add up, and that just because I’m not sweating or breathing heavy during a longer walk to get lunch doesn’t mean it doesn’t “count.”  Not only that, but it is the only activity tracking product I’ve used that has actually successfully gotten me to be more active in various parts of my day.  I take the stairs whenever possible, I schedule walking meetings, and I will go out of my way to take a mile long walk at 10PM at night just to make sure I keep my streak alive.

OK enough of the shameless promotion.  Here is what my typical week looks like in activity:

Usually an off day depending on how much activity I’ve done on the previous weekend, but if I’m on a streak in Breeze I will most likely find an excuse to take the long way to lunch or run an errand that requires me to walk for a while.  I have been known to hop on the office treadmill for a bit if necessary.

This is my day to sleep in, but I have 6, 30 minutes 1:1 meetings with each member of the UX team that usually end up as walking meetings.  That’s 3 hours of walking, and usually between 3-6 miles!  If there weren’t enough, I play dodgeball for 90 minutes at night with friends (the only league sport I still play after 8 years).  And as much as it might not sound strenuous, I invite you to come out and play some time… some nights it is absolutely exhausting!

Gym day with my Fiancé.  We live in the suburbs (Foxboro) so our gym is 15-20 minutes away, which means that we are up and out the door between 5:30-5:45, work out from 6-6:45ish, and head back home so that we can leave for the city at 7:45.  Typically this means 2-3 miles on the treadmill, and 15-20 minutes of free weights, pushups, and crunches.  I pretty much hit my Breeze goal by mid day, so I try and relax the rest of the day.


I try and keep this a rest day, but again if I’m on a streak in Breeze I will find excuses to get some steps in whether it’s chances to walk somewhere or even a quick run.  If I don’t I will spend most of my day in a computer chair in front of a computer which is never great.

Another gym morning!  Same basic time frame as Wednesday, except today is my “cheat day” for eating because it also the day my fiancé and I have our weekly date night. More on this in a bit!

Depending on what the weekend’s plans are, I typically try and get at least 1 long run in (~5 miles) and also walk our dog Meeka a couple times (1.3 miles each walk according to RunKeeper!).  And, of course, and additional activity necessary to keep a streak alive!


For most of my life nutrition has been my achilles heal when it comes to health.  My fantastic metabolism set up some really poor eating habits that are really difficult to break out of.  While I’ve tried a couple different approaches, I am currently counting calories using MyFitnessPal and giving myself a really strict calorie budget Saturday through Thursday, and allowing myself to “cheat” on Fridays and eat whatever I want.  I did this for a couple reasons:

1.  Keeping a low budget actually motivates me to run more. The more I run, the more (or better) I can eat! Simple as that.
2.  If I stuck to a moderate calorie budget 7 days a week, I tended to be less strict on making sure I hit it.  For some reason giving myself the cheat day made me more “honest” on the other 6 days even though it was a far lower target.
3.  I don’t eat a lot in the first place, so when it comes to cheat days even if I have the worst of foods I typically only end up coming back around to where I would be if I stayed on the moderate budget 7 days a week.

I’m well aware that there are probably many other things I could be doing, or better paths to take, but I’m happy with my progress so far and will continue to improve and adjust to get better results.

I said I was done with the shameless promotion, but I lied.  I also am a DJ and make mashups for fun (which you should definitely check out here  What makes this relevant is that I have many friends who are yoga (hi Cara!) or spin instructors that have asked to use some of these songs in their classes, and I routinely hear feedback from friends and fans that these tracks are an essential part of their workout.  So much so that I’ve considered making special 30 minute mixes specifically for workouts (but haven’t yet).  You may not love everything you hear, but chances are there are one or more tracks that will make you smile or want to dance. Who knows maybe I will have created an essential piece to your next workout! 


Categories: Day In the Life