I’ve got a confession to make: I hate running. Okay, “hate” is probably too severe considering that I just ran a 10K last Monday (go me!), but I don’t run for fun.
That said, I’ve found a few awesome apps that have made running a lot more interesting, if not actually fun. Use them to liven up your own routine, whether you’ve got a race coming up or are just psyching yourself up for bathing suit shopping.
Count on one of the biggest names in athletics to come up with a smart running app. Nike+ GPS tracks your run route, distance and pace–just hit record and hit the road. One really cool feature is PowerSong activation, which lets you instantly skip to a pre-selected track when you need some extra musical oomph. There’s also a “tag” feature allowing you to outrun your friends…or not. Of course, the app and the NikePlus.com site are heavily branded, but Nike devotees won’t mind. (Usually $1.99, now free for a limited time)
The super popular RunKeeper also uses GPS to record your run, but what I love is that it automatically tracks your splits–how long it takes you to run each mile. You can also set up audio cues to help keep you on track, alerting you when your pace drops or at specified time or distance intervals, and a racing feature lets you compete against fellow runners. There’s a great social scene on the RunKeeper website too, where you can add friends and leave positive feedback for each other. (Free for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone)
My personal favorite running app that I use for every workout is iMapMyRun which tracks runs, walks, and bike rides. I really dig the elevation tracker: I can see just how long and hard those climbs were. And because I train on my bike too, I’ve got one place to store all my workouts. It also holds cool fitness challenges–I just completed Run 30 Miles in 30 Days, and I’m waiting for the Tour de France bike challenge to start. (Free for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Paid versions available but not necessary)
All three of these apps automatically store workout details online where you can check stats and analytics and compare yourself to your friends. But there are a couple of drawbacks to GPS tracking apps: They eat battery life for lunch, and they’re not infallible. I’ve headed out with a half-charged battery only to find that my phone shut down before I returned from my run. I’ve also discovered recorded workouts where the mileage was way off. You can manually enter data though, so as long as you know your route and your time, a small glitch won’t mean a total loss.
As for me, the best part of using these apps is that they get me excited about running, even on days when I’d rather curl up with a bag of chips and the Real Housewives.