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4 Great iPhone Apps for Runners

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/23/2011 2:00 PM   :  38 comments   :  63,491 Views

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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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Comments

  • 38
    Nike+ is free now, and absolutely awesome. It keeps me motivated and challenged. Shows my pace, calories burned, time and distance, as well as averages for my daily walk/run. It also does not eat up your cell phone minutes. It seems very accurate, even with my treadmill runs. I know it used to be 1.99. They also have great customer service. Very helpful. They are trying to fix the glitch ti get me my first 25 miles trophy. A lot of work to hire phone staff for a completely free app.vit keeps track of all your runs, overall states, and averages. You have the option of having music turned on or off, and of setting your weight so calories burned is accurate. I can't imagine a scenario where I wouldn't use it or recommend it to others. - 10/19/2012   3:16:45 AM
  • 37
    I like the Nike+ app myself especially since it syncs with my gym equipment - 4/2/2012   10:38:56 AM
  • 36
    I also use the iMapMyFitness/(Walk) app - and when I am saving, it allows me to select other choices - running, biking, hiking etc. I originally got the free version, but had some issues with it and in working with the developer, they couldn't get it to work properly either, and they ended up just upgrading me to the "iMapMyWalk+" model, which I think is around $1.99 or so, plus tax. (I'm not real clear on the difference between the free apps and the "Plus/+" apps which charge more, other than slightly crippled so that the performance is somewhat dicey until you buy the one that costs extra - but in my case, I was upgraded by them several years ago. It's worked much better, even in low GPS penetration situations (extremely cloudy weather which we get a lot of, either with rain or snow), especially after I upgraded from 3G to the 4s iPhone. It's also a lot better integrated with playing music on the iPod on my phone as well. But I'm still toying with the idea of buying one of the Garmin Forerunners - trying to sort through all of their features (I need one with vibration alerts because I can't hear regular watch alerts - too soft/high pitch).

    Oh the voice prompts - I have a funny story on that... I toggled that on in my iMapMyWalk+ app - where it would allegedly announce the time, how far I had run, whatever. Well, I took off and promptly forgot what I had done. Then I began "hearing voices" - it would chatter for a bit and then stop, and I had absolutely NO clue what it was saying. I always seemed to be near a street light whenever I heard the voices, so I was thinking the power company had put some kind of sensor on the light pole (why? maybe because they were paranoid about all the copper wire thefts going on?? I dunno why I thought that!). So this went on for several days or nights, whenever I went walking, the poles were "talking" to me... I even approached other walkers and said "do you hear those voices?" and oh, um, no, they hadn't heard anything, sorry (I'm sure they thought I was crazier than a loon!). FINALLY I was looking through the app and looking at the various settings and saw the voice thing, where it was annoucing time and stuff, and lo and behold, it started talking again! Right before my eyes! And sure enough, they stopped abruptly when I switched the toggle to "off". Then I went back on, and got the voice to come back on. Unfortunately it's a robot and just not quite lip-readable enough for me to understand what it is actually saying... but it's just "voice-like" enough for me to recognize it sounds like people talking (the way ALL voices sound, like at a restaurant, just background chatter and noise and I can't understand any one conversation unless I'm lipreading the person!!). *sigh*.

    The crazy mental life of being deaf.... fun fun fun!
    - 12/15/2011   3:20:27 PM
  • MARCEL91
    35
    I haven't tried running log yet, but the others I've tried and they are all good. I actually think runmeter is the best of the bunch - 9/26/2011   11:27:31 PM
  • 34
    A couple of iPhone apps I can no longer live without:

    Nike+ GPS- it's everything you said it is, I track every run with it, worth every penny!

    The lolo BeatBurn series: there is one for elliptical and one for running which can be used indoor/outdoor. Also might be a biking one but I'm not sure. These apps have workout programs that are custom fit to your body type and ability and each workout progresses and changes to continue to challenge you so you don't get bored and more importantly you don't plateau! There are motivating voice cues throughout that you can turn off but I found these to be really helpful. The workouts are intense (if you want them to be) and burn so many more calories than a regular workout. BUT the other major cool thing about these apps is they have a beat sync technology so you can input songs from your iPod into their playlist and they will change the beats per minute to match the tempo of the workout and keep you pumped. They also have their own music if you don't want to add your own songs. I can't say enough about these apps!!! They are a little pricey but WELL worth it- it will change the way you look at an elliptical machine or treadmill. I have also used the elliptical app with an Arc Trainer with the same results. You also have the ability to log your workouts and share to Facebook and twitter.
    Lolo Ultimate 5K/10K: the same company developed these apps as the BeatBurn series. I swear I am not getting paid, this company just knows what they're doing! These are training apps for either 5K/10K whether you're a beginner or working on a better time. Marathoner Jeff Galoway is behind these apps and he is the voice and coach throughout. I just started using the 10K and absolutely love it. As far as tracking and stats they leave nothing out. You can also download additional coaching/motivational audio and music but once again you can add your own as well. I find the audio cues to be a total game changer and really push me further! This is basically like having a running trainer behind you telling you what to do next and how to improve every step of the way. If youre like me and need the extra guidance and motivation these apps are for you.
    Again, can't say enough---All the Lolo apps are worth every penny! Try them out!! - 9/9/2011   10:39:37 AM
  • 33
    I have the iPhone 4, but as yet, don't know how to get all these things that you can get for it. Can anyone help me, in layman terms??? 57 here, but trying to keep up with new technology,lol. Fabulous phone, mind you. I love the camera. - 6/12/2011   3:29:40 AM
  • 32
    I am considering an iPhone as my next phone. I love the Nike+ system. i have the iPod version with the thing in my shoe. This app would be awesome, because with the iPhone app I would be able to buy whatever shoes I want, and I would only have to take one device with me when I run, not my cell phone AND my iPod. - 5/27/2011   9:10:34 AM
  • 31
    I have an Android phone, I use the imapmyride & imapmyrun software on it, I also downloaded a separate hr monitor program onto it. I think that when budget allows I'd rather invest in something that is a separate piece of equipment, than use the phone. I'm fascinated by the idea of something like the body bug, but budget is a big deal when every time the gov cuts spending to education one more person disappears from work. Pretty soon it will be my turn. - 4/13/2011   9:52:48 AM
  • ALEXANDRA64
    30
    Seriously? If you walk, I highly recommend the "Walkmeter". I use it every day for my walks. It maps out your route as you walk, gives you pace, average pace, time, distance and so forth. It also has a calendar section so you can look back at your walking history and see what you have done. I tried others but this is the best so far.

    You can also stop and restart. I and my neighbor will walk to the coffee shop in town, stay awhile, then walk home. I can stop the app while there then restart so I get my total for the whole walk there and back. - 4/4/2011   5:12:00 AM
  • 29
    I love the Nike one, I've been using it since it came out and it's never failed me. You can use indoor or out, makes it easy to keep track of how far you walk during your work day too. - 2/27/2011   10:51:49 PM
  • 28
    Do these apps work on Ipods as well ad the phones? - 2/27/2011   9:22:59 PM
  • 27
    Handy Runner is a droid app sponsored by the site RunningAhead.com. It records time, route, and distance, works with the phone's gps, and allows you to listen to your own music while it runs in the background. I love it. Oh, and it's FREE. :-) - 2/27/2011   5:03:41 PM
  • 26
    I use an Android phone, not iPhone, and love RunKeeper Pro. It was advertised as free through January, and I still got it at no charge on February 14. I like to be able to log my cardio with some idea of my pace, even though it may not be fast!

    The RunKeeper website is neat, too, as phone transfers runs to the website (if you register) and you can view your route in Google maps, with a graph underneath that you can mouse over to see pace or elevation). Kind of fun! - 2/24/2011   1:58:48 PM
  • GAARAMA
    25
    Not a runner,yet but I think the treadmill app looks inviting. - 2/24/2011   1:45:10 PM
  • 24
    I usually use MapMRun, but have been considering the Nike+ app. I like the Nike+ website to log my runs, I've used it with the chip and wristband. Thanks to your blog, I'm going to give the Nike+ app a try! - 2/24/2011   12:53:14 PM
  • 23
    I use the free version if iMapMyRun on my Blackberry. It uses the GPS locator on my phone to map where I walk or run and calculate my mph. There is also an Andriod version and an iPhone version of the application. - 2/24/2011   10:52:21 AM
  • 22
    my bff has that and loves it - 2/24/2011   10:06:56 AM
  • 21
    I guess I just don't feel the need to be that worried about pace or distance when I exercise (but then, I don't compete, either). And I still prefer to pay my own attention rather than be told when/what to do something. The techno-world is passing me by, and I wave at it, happy both for those who enjoy it and for me, knowing I don't need most of it.
    I know, I know, I'm in the minority, but the question asked "Do you own an Iphone?" and so "no" has to be a reasonable answer, too! - 2/24/2011   10:03:16 AM
  • 20
    I have the Nike+GPS and love it! - 2/24/2011   9:58:22 AM
  • 19
    Thanks! - 2/24/2011   9:42:08 AM
  • SMCCULLE
    18
    runkeeper is great! - 2/24/2011   9:26:46 AM
  • 17
    I use Smart Runner on my Palm. But GPS on Palm is horrible, rendering the app basically useless. :( Would love it otherwise. At least I can rack accurate times on pre-mapped routes. - 2/24/2011   9:08:18 AM
  • 16
    www.logyourrun.com

    The app is free. Runs and routes are uploaded to the web with the touch of a button. "FREE" - 2/24/2011   9:03:22 AM
  • ZUMBAWITHTASHA
    15
    I use the 4g mytouch for everything - 2/24/2011   8:54:14 AM
  • 14
    I use the Nike Plus GPS. LOVE IT! I like when people can cheer you on while you run from Facebook. - 2/24/2011   8:42:07 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    13
    MUSTS for my brand-new HemorrDroid! It's been a pain in the butt so far, though. - 2/24/2011   8:07:32 AM
  • 12
    I have an android phone, and I don't use it for my workouts, I use a good old fashioned pedometer to track my time, steps, speed, etc.! - 2/24/2011   12:45:14 AM
  • 11
    When I FINALLY get into the SmartPhone age, I'm planning to download an app for running since I don't own a Garmin. I'm working on convincing my husband to let us jettison our ancient Motorola Razors sometime this summer :) - 2/23/2011   11:36:28 PM
  • 10
    I have an Android, as I refuse to join the i-anything culture. I use CardioTrainer, which is pretty good. I haven't tried any of the other programs, though, so I am kind of biased to that one app. :-) - 2/23/2011   9:29:53 PM
  • 9
    I used the "Interval Run" app on my iPod Touch quite a bit when I was starting out; it was very easy to program in my own intervals in addition to the ones provided, and worked like a charm. They've recently upgraded it for iOS4 to run in the background, but I've not used it since then. - 2/23/2011   6:36:15 PM
  • 8
    I use the Nike+GPS and I love it. The only complaint I have is that I also use the regular Nike+ for my iPod and I get different running paces on the iPhone vs. my iPod - I'm a pretty consistent runner so I'm not sure which one is right. I would definitely like to check out an app that can track cycling as well so I might check out that Run Tracker Pro. Thanks! - 2/23/2011   6:06:18 PM
  • 7
    I have a Nokia 5800 which came with a sports tracker - it's brilliant and was free.
    I do still run with my garmin / hr monitor depending on whether I'm outdoors or on the treadmill but if I forget I have my phone - 2/23/2011   4:09:27 PM
  • SP_COACH_NANCY
    6
    KJT1985,

    You are right, there are many apps available for the Droid and Blackberry, however, I own a iPhone and therefore this was the only device I could test the apps out on. However, I am sure there are similar apps out there for you to use. THANKS for the reminder!

    Nancy - 2/23/2011   3:52:59 PM
  • 5
    Apps aren't just for iphones, there's so many other smarphones on the market and android has just as many - how about we talk about those too?! Android has RunKeeper pro for free, there's a HIIT treadmill assistant app for $1.99, Walk It! Lite for free, GPS walk and run tracker for free, SportsTracker Pro for $9.70, Running Tracker for free and lots more. No Nike app yet though...

    Just want people to be aware that you don't need an iphone to access these cool tools! - 2/23/2011   3:48:10 PM
  • 4
    RunKeeper Pro is my go to running app. And now they are giving it away for free. I paid $9.99 for it a while back. I would pay for it again if I had to. Love it. - 2/23/2011   3:15:21 PM
  • 3
    I don't use any of these apps, but I used the C25K app when I first started running, which was an awesome tool to use and the updates since have made it even better. Now that I run further distances I use the Runkeeper app religiously. It does most of the same things as the Nike app (based on your review), and also allows you to interact online with a "Street Team." You can also set coaching so if you have a specific interval training to do, you can have it give you audio cues according to that day's training session. You can also play your itunes playlists with it as you run. I started with the "Lite" version but then upgraded to the Pro, which I have felt was worth the investment. - 2/23/2011   3:01:19 PM
  • 2
    Very interesting. I do not have an iPhone but I do have an Android phone. Do you know if these apps are available for Android as well? - 2/23/2011   2:49:45 PM
  • 1
    Sounds pretty interesting....I do tend to try the free/LITE versions whenever possible to see if:
    a) it is a workable/funcational option
    b) it is not beyond my techno capabilities
    c) how easy is it to use (i.e., passwords/multiple steps to program/etc)

    That being said, the running log would be the most appealing. At the moment I have several programs that I am trying on my iPhone, notably:
    5K Coach; Run Coach; 321 Run; Run Keeper; and iMapMy____(Fitness/HIke), as well as aSportsTracker.
    Not currently using any of them frequently enough to know which I like best yet, but working on it.... - 2/23/2011   2:37:58 PM

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