lolo 5k appI have always wanted to be a runner. But each time I’d start up again, my knees would hurt—a lot. I was so slow, my dog-partner didn’t even need to trot. And, inevitably, I’d overextend myself, get hurt, and stop for yet another six months. 

Then I discovered a series of amazing apps from walk-run guru Jeff Galloway that actually helped me become a better runner, without all the injury and frustration I stumbled upon before.

Lolo’s Easy 5K with Jeff Galloway app for the iPhone is a super-customizable exercise partner for people who have never tried running for exercise, as well as for road warriors who want to improve their times. What makes this different from most other running programs I’ve done is that Jeff Galloway incorporates walk breaks from the very start of the run, as a way to keep energy up and avoid injury. 

With the ability to set the pace from a barely-above-walking, 18-minute mile, all the way up to a speedy 6-minute mile, it’s easy to back off the pace on “tired” days or go all out. After a three minute warm up, Jeff’s gentle and supportive voice comes on to coach throughout the workout. And since you can set the run:walk ratio to your own personal fitness level, you just wait to hear his voice prompts for when to start walking or running: No watching the clock or setting a watch timer.

The Easy 5K app uses Lolo‘s cool “beat-sync technology” which takes either my downloaded music or their supplied techno-esque tunes and sets it to the predetermined pace. Sure, OutKast’s Hey Ya! may sound a little sped up or slower than normal, but it really helps keep me on pace. 
I do have a few quibbles: It is way too easy to hit the touch screen accidentally which may bounce me out of the program or change the time I have left to run. But, when I wrote to Lolo to request that they include an “undo” button or screen lock on any updates, I was impressed how quickly I received a response–and wouldn’t be surprised to see that feature incorporated soon.
One thing I really love about this program is that it schedules only three runs a week, a great feature for us busy parents. This allows me to sneak in the quick runs midweek while saving my longer run for the weekends when my husband is home to keep an eye on the kids. 
And his method of using walk breaks throughout the run does work: it helped me shave a full minute off my 5K time after just a few weeks. It also gave me so much confidence that I downloaded his Easy 10K app and completed my first 10K last week.

Just don’t ask me to try out his half marathon version yet. Give me a few months. –Christina

lolo’s Easy 5K and Easy 10K apps are available for $3.99 each on iTunes. The latest, Half Marathon is a hefty $14.99, presumably due to the increased coaching included. Marathon will be out in the near future.

Also check out our other fitness picks in our archives.