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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Favorite Running Apps

It seems like I come across runners who all have their favorite apps for one reason or another. I am no exception to this. For a while, I was using the Couch to 5K app. There were a few things I liked about it. First, it kept track of my runs. It knew exactly where in the program I had stopped and would automatically forward to the next day in the program when I was ready to go back out. This saved me the trouble of having to look up where I was. You could also just manually change it to do whichever day you wanted. Second, there was a voice that would tell you when to walk and when to run. Since the app could be running while also playing music, it would slightly bring down the volume of the music so you could hear the walk/run prompt. It would also tell you when you were at the half way point. The downside? Well, the program simply did not work for me as I have discussed here. The app may have had some new features added since I last used it over a year ago. If you like Couch to 5K, I definitely encourage you to check out the app. They also offer a 5K to 10K app.

Needing an app more suitable for my runs, I began doing a bit of research. I finally settled on one that I have really liked: MapMyRun. This app has everything I am looking for.

2010 screen capture. The app's look has since been a bit updated.

It allows you to enter in what type of run or other workout you are doing, which is interval training for me. You can switch live tracking on or off, choose a route or enter in a new one, and even have your results posted to facebook and twitter. The app will not only track your mileage, but will also calculate your average speed, average pace, approximate number of calories burned, and shows how long you have been running. The average pace and mileage are the two I focus on the most. Once you have finished your workout, you can post it publicly so other runners using that route can see it, or just keep it private. You can also challenge your fellow runner friends! I also like the fact that you can look at all your workouts at a glance, so you get an idea of your progress.

I also needed something to time my intervals. I ordered the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run Vibrating Timer specifically for this purpose, as well as the armband to go with it.

The timer takes only a moment or two to set up. There are a few options for letting you know when to switch to running or walking: it will beep, vibrate, or both. I listen to music on my runs and wouldn't notice the beep. So I kept it on vibrate. Unfortunately, I could not feel the vibration, so there were many times I was walking or running much longer than I should have been. The problem is that I am not doing steady and consistent training, which makes it more difficult for me. I do not want to down this timer at all. I actually love it and am hoping I can figure out how to affix it to my body so I can actually feel the vibrations.

There was a day I went out for a run and forgot my timer at home. Not wanting to trek back home for a timer, I quickly looked at the app store to see if there was something I could use. That is when I discovered the Run/Walk Intervals Timer.

The intervals are very easy to set up and will allow you to program your desired interval down to the second. You can also choose which interval you want to start out with. Like the Couch to 5K app, this app will tell you when it is time to walk or run (or vibrate as an indicator), will mute any music playing in the background when it lets you know and return the music back to its original level. If your sound is off, the phone will vibrate and display a note on the screen to indicate which interval you are on. The nice thing is that this runs alongside any other app you have running. So if I am looking at my MapMyRun app, this timer will still let me know when to switch intervals. Unfortunately this app is exclusive to Android users. I honestly do not know if there is an iPhone app that does the same.

So there you have it...my favorite running apps! Perhaps more seasoned runners use other apps that are seemingly more high tech, or perhaps ones that may actually be better for me but I have not yet discovered. But these work well for me for the time being.

*Disclaimer - I have received absolutely no compensation for these product/app recommendations.

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