4 Great iPhone Apps for Runners
Many of you may recall in my previous dailySpark blogs I am not a tech junkie. In fact I know just enough to keep me ahead of the curve, but not so much that I could dare pass a test on all the different features my iPhone has. However when I was given the challenge to review some of the most popular paid running apps I took the bull by the horn and literally ran with it--pun intended of course.
Before runners were introduced to the Garmin Forerunner many of us use now to calculate our distance, pace per mile, etc, we had to resort to using mapping features, measure the distance by car or go to a course where the distance had already been calculated. But if you don't have the money to fork out to purchase a Garmin, and you own a iPhone, for just a few dollars you can download one of the many running/walking apps available. And you may be pleasantly surprised to find that all the apps I reviewed were quite accurate and matched the calculations on my Garmin due to the GPS capability.
Because I do the majority of my runs solo, I always carry my iPhone with me, whether or not I wear my Garmin, but for those of you who do not like running with your phone that may be a deterrent. However, there are arm straps for you to wear which may help make carrying your iPhone less cumbersome. I personally do not like anything restricting on my arm movement when running so I carry mine in my running vest or jacket pocket and have had no problems.
Below are my reviews on my top four running/walking apps that I have tested.
Running Log (99 cents plus tax)
One of the most important and invaluable tools a runner should have, after a good pair of running shoes, is a running log. While many runners are reluctant to track their runs because of the time involved in doing so, the Running Log app is a perfect solution to this often overlooked tool.
The app allows a runner to log his distance, duration, type of run (ie: Treadmill, Intervals, Easy Run, Race, Recovery Run, etc), time of day he did his run, effort level, as well as the name of the route he ran. It also allows one to check off boxes if this was a group run or if this was a rest day.
The app tracks total distance run as well as the average pace, not only for the week, but month as well. And if that wasn't enough, you can even export the data from your iPhone to your email address and you will have all your data in an Excel (CSV) spreadsheet on your computer.
The only complaint I have is that the app doesn't have a means of tracking weather, unless you use the notes section. As runners, we know that weather, especially heat and wind, can have a huge effect on your running performance. But what can you say, for just a little over a dollar this app may just be what you need to keep your running data all in one place and at the touch of your finger tips.
Nike+ GPS ($1.99 plus tax)
This app by far was one of my favorite of all the apps I reviewed, and for only $1.99, less than the cost of Starbucks Grande coffee, it was well worth every penny. I took it for my first test run outside using the basic running feature. I set my settings to have voice alerts every quarter mile, however if that is too frequent for you, you do have the ability to set them at longer intervals such as every half mile, every mile or every two miles or you have the option of turning it off completely. For those who use the metric system you can choose kilometers over miles. Or you can set your voice alerts at various minute intervals. What I loved about the voice alerts is it told you your distance, pace and time at that moment. I also wore my Garmin Forerunner 110 when testing the app and by golly when I reached my first 1/4 mile it matched my Garmin right on the money and continued to do so for the duration of the run.
A really nice feature is the record keeping function. This feature will keep track of your farthest run, longest run, fastest 1K, fastest 1 mile and fastest 5K. It will even give you a summary of your last run including: time, calories burned and pace per mile.
This app also allows you to Tag Your Run, in other words you can choose the icon that best suits your mood, the weather, and the running terrain, as well as a place to add notes. You can also share your runs with your friends on Facebook and Twitter or even to the Nike+ site. You also have the ability to upload power songs from you iPod app on your phone which gives you your own selected songs to run with. And my favorite feature was the In-Run Cheer Audio, which comes in handy when you are starting to get tired. It is a really awesome app.
iTreadmill (99 cents plus tax)
For those looking for an app to use inside on a treadmill, the iTreadmill may be just the app you have been looking for. While a treadmill will calculate your time and distance, what I like about this app is I do not have to waste time transferring the data from the treadmill to a record keeping system. It is all kept in one location on my iPhone. You do, however, have to have a pocket to put your phone in so that the app can calibrate your stride, just like manual pedometers do.
You are able to set a calories burned goal, distance goal, number of steps goals or time goal, or you can turn off this feature completely. If you choose one of the goals as an option, once you meet that goal you can even choose a victory song from your iPod app to play when you are done.
Just like the previous app, the iTreamill will allow you to choose from a 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile or 1 mile alert. However, unlike the voice alerts found with the other apps, instead you will hear a chime each time you pass the chosen distance. This app also has the option if you prefer to take your runs or walks outside.
Run Tracker Pro - SprintGPS Track, Map & Share Running and Jogging Routes ($4.99 plus tax)
This app was the most expensive of all the apps I reviewed, however the features it offers makes it well worth the extra money. Not only can you use this app for running, but walking and cycling as well. For the added cost it also offers some nice features, such as an interval training option, as well as a ghost runner option which basically allows you to race against your previous runs. It also offers a sports conditioning feature which is fantastic for doing speedwork.
This app also allows for voice alerts at various times and distances which comes in quite handy during my long slow runs. Because I use a 4:1 minute run/walk method for my long runs, by setting my run intervals for every 4 minutes at a fast pace and my walk intervals for 1 minute, I am no longer tethered to having to look at my Garmin during my runs or missing the beep if I am running with my music. Just like the Nike+GPS, this app allows you to sync your runs with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. This can be a great motivator for those who need that little extra encouragement along the way.
The only drawback is this app does not have a place to make notes nor does it have the tagging features for your mood, terrain and weather, like the Nike+ GPS offers.
For my running pals, you may be asking yourself why I did not review the ever popular RunKeeper Pro app--the reason, at the time I downloaded the app, it was no longer a paid for app and this blog is for paid running apps only.
But whether you pay for an app or not, having an app at your finger-tips is like having a running coach in your pocket. It can be a great addition to your training and because many of these apps use GPS technology you do not need to rush out to buy a Garmin or other GPS compatible monitor. For just a few dollars and your iPhone, you can well be on your way to a healthier you.
Do you own an iPhone? If so, would any of these apps be of interest to you? If so, which one? Have you used any of these apps?
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