I mentor with a running group for women called First Strides. It is a fun and very rewarding way to stay focused on running. I get to work with very interesting women. Last fall, several mentors bought these very cool watches that track your distance, your pace, calories burned, your heartrate, and many other things. I was excited. I wanted one. I had to get one. I did what every good librarian does and went home to research these amazing pieces of technology. That was when my starry-eyed adoration ended. These things were going for lots of money. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend more on a watch than I do on my running shoes.
So I did some more research. I have one of these really smart smart phones. Of course, being over a year old, it may not be as smart as most, but it does what I need it to do. I figured there must be an app that I could use for running. I thought about what I wanted at a minimum:
- tracks my distance
- tracks my time
- calculates my pace
- keeps a log
Some bonus features would include:
- interval workouts
- calories burned
- a rubdown by Jake Gyllenhaal afterwards
The main contenders were: DailyMile, MapMyRun, and RunKeeper. MapMyRun has been around for a while and I had been using it to track my workouts with the web version, at least until I got tired of the constant offers for their paid levels. I decided not to try a MapMyRun app. DailyMile seemed to have a strong community following. However, it was the simplicity of RunKeeper that I liked.
RunKeeper did all that I wanted in a running device thingee. Well, almost all, as I am not too hopeful about getting a rubdown from Mr. Gyllenhaal anytime soon. That’s okay, though, I really like my RunKeeper. It does a great job of tracking my workouts, including distance, time, pace, calories burned.
I can also program in interval training. This is an especially cool feature for First Strides, as our workouts are based on a progressive system of easy-hard intervals. My Timex Ironman watch does this as well, only it can only do two intervals. RunKeeper allows many intervals, plus how many repetitions, plus a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down. This is perfect for people in the First Strides program. For example, this past week we did a 34 minute workout:
- 5 minute warm-up
- 3 minutes easy
- 3 minutes hard
- repeat the 3 easy-3 hard series 4 times
- 5 minute cool-down
This can all be programmed in the RunKeeper app! With audio prompts.
Don’t run, but bike or walk or ski or skate or swim or…the RunKeeper will still work for you, too. Track your workouts and the distance you cover in your workouts. The app also syncs with your online profile, where you can have training teams. connect with others, graph your progress, see your routes, post to Facebook or Twitter, and even take fitness classes (these do have a small fee). All this for free. And that is what I liked best about RunKeeper!