Whether you’re training for a running event, running for kicks or running for exercise, a running app helps you improve your running time – by letting you track your progress, plan your run and stay motivated. Many runners today download popular running apps to their smartphones. Some runners do buy GPS watches, but a running app is a whole lot cheaper, comes with a bunch of features and works with your existing smartphone!
Image: GPS Satellite
[Photo credit: Wikipedia.com]
How does GPS help runners?
GPS helps runners improve running time by keeping track of distances and time. It helps the runner pace himself and measure his performance. With most dedicated runners, there is a temptation to overtrain, doing too much too soon. This, of course, leads to injury. With GPS, runners can gradually increase their distances. They can track their performances, and measure their improvements by seeing the time it takes to cover a given distance, over a period of time. Running with GPS is tremendously motivating too as you have tangible stats to help you gauge your progress.
Here’s Austrian marathon champ, Guenther Weidlinger, talking about training with apps:
What are some popular running apps?
[Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running]
What are some features running apps provide?
Typically, a running app tracks the distance, speed and time of your run. Some apps tell you how many calories you have burnt. They use GPS to help you pick and track the route of your run. Many incorporate social features so that you can share your accomplishments on social media, track other runners in your group, etc. They usually include a heart-rate monitor as well.
RunKeeper, for instance will pull up stats related to your run, help you set goals and inform you when you achieve those goals. You can also activate the audio which will “speak” to you through the run. Pumatrac scores you at the end of each run, which inspires runners to work for better scores!Runtastic will even play a peppier song when you need a boost mid-run. StravaRun is extremely social, and designed to keep your competitive spirit going by focusing on your performance vis-à-vis others in your network.Runnit offers rewards – literally – in the form of cute freebies each time you achieve a milestone.
Here’s a closer look at some features of RunKeeper:
[Image credits: stuffshebuys.blogspot.com, macworld.com, phonesreview.co.uk]
Map My Tracks is wholly focussed on GPS. You can replay your races – or rather the routes you took – and study your run. You can use it to understand where you were fastest, where you lost time, etc. Your friends and family can also track you live on a computer.
Nike and Addidas also have running apps – and the best thing is, they are totally free, and offer many of the features, though not all, of the other apps. Going in a slightly different direction is CharityMiles which donates money to charities based on how much you run.
Image: Zombie app
[Photo credit: www.usatoday.com]
Keeping your phone safe while you run
Some runners advocate using a GPS watch for running, as it comes built for the purpose of portability. One big issue with a phone app is that a phone battery requires recharging at smaller intervals. However, a lot of runners like the coaching features of some apps, the ability to play music, the larger screen display, etc.The cost of a GPS watch is also significantly higher than that of a phone running app.
One big practical consideration that most runners talk about while running using a phone app,is where to put the phone. Keeping your phone safe over long distances is not easy. Some use running armbands, running gear with pockets or waist belts. Phone clip cases are a good solution, and are available in a variety of styles.
If you’re the kind who dislikes the bulkiness of most phone cases, then Wonderful Things Factory has a barely-there, slimmer option, SlimClip, that can be clipped to your waist, your belt or your pocket. The SlimClip is inspired by the clean, minimalist lines of the iPhone or the Galaxy. SlimClip literally lets you take your phone anywhere and everywhere.
Are you a dedicated runner? Which app do you use to track your runs? Share in comments.