Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Running With Technology

Slightly obsessed with tracking your workouts? Grab your iPhone and discover the wonderful world of free running apps. The built-in GPS allows you to track your run no matter where you are: on trails, busy neighborhoods, or dirt roads. Whether you want an actual Google Map of your route, a calendar showing off the days you worked out, or to share your workouts with your pals on Facebook or Twitter — there's an app for that. If you're new to the running app scene, here are six free iPhone apps you'll want to check out! 


It maps out your run using the built-in GPS (no sensor required), so no matter where you go, it can keep track of your pace, distance, calories burned, and map out the route you've completed. I like that the display is easy to read — I can quickly glance down and know how many calories I've burned, or tap the screen to see a map of how far I've gone. There are three workout settings to choose from: Basic (run with no set time or distance), Time (run against the clock), or Distance (run a certain mileage). This app is compatible with your iTunes library, so it's easy to choose a playlist before you begin your workout, and if you want to skip a song, just tap the arrows on the main screen.


If you've used the MapMyRun website before, you'll be happy to know they have a free app for your phone. iMapMyRUN can sync with your MapMyRun online account, so you can automatically upload your workout info. During your run, it records your time, speed, distance, and it can even keep track of your heart rate (as long as you use a compatible heart rate monitor). The stats are in a large font so you can quickly keep track of your progress. If you tap "Map," you can actually watch yourself (a little blue dot) travel along the road map, so it's great if you're running in a new area. I love that the map also has mile markers along the route so when you need a little visual inspiration you can look down and see you only have a few more blocks till you hit three miles.

LogYourRun Free

The LogYourRun Free app utilizes the built-in GPS and accelerometer to map your time, distance, and pace. The main screen is easy to read, and if you swipe to the right, you can see a map of your route, and if you swipe it again, you get info on your heart rate (you must have a separately purchased compatible heart rate monitor).

You can choose your own route or if you need a little nudge, download the free training programs such as Couch to 5K or Your First Marathon. One very convenient feature is that if you like listening to music, you can access your iTunes library playlists, all with a tap of the music button in the upper left corner. My favorite feature is the use of Google maps to see your running route. If you're bored with your usual neighborhood loop, it points out routes other users have mapped out near you.

 5K Free
Most people have heard of the Couch to 5K running program, and here is the app that goes along with it. I'll be upfront and tell you that the free version of the 5K Runner only includes the first two weeks of the eight-week training program, so if you want the complete program, you'll need to fork over $3 for thefull version. It's nice that there is a free version you can test out, and if you love it, you can always upgrade.

This app will gradually guide you through the first two weeks of the eight-week program, mapping out three workouts per week. I love that an audio coach tells you exactly what to do per workout (warm up, walk, run, or cool down) and there's a colorful little chart you can use to follow along. The walking/running intervals increase in intensity over the eight-week program, so this app is perfect for beginners.

If you're a fan of working out to music, you can listen to your iTunes playlists in the background, but you might find it annoying that you have to double tap the Home button, then tap iTunes every time you want to skip a song. I do love that this app keeps track of each workout and charts your progress, and like most of these running apps, you can share your workouts with the Twitter or Facebook world.

Running Log Free

If you like to keep your running data all in one place, you'll love this handy app, Running Log Free. It's purely for recording the duration, distance, pace, and other details of your workouts. Just tap the calender day, fill in the info, and you're set. I love that you can look at each month and visually see how many days you've worked out. Plus it tallies your total distance, exercise time, average pace, and rest days, so you can easily see if you've reached your monthly goal.

Just to be clear, this app will not chart your time, distance, pace, and calories burned while working out. This is just an app to help you log all the data you've already collected from another source, whether it be an app like the Nike+ GPS, your treadmill readout, or your GPS watch. This app has definitely motivated me to keep up with my workouts, because it's fun filling in the days on the calendar and seeing all the red squares (runs) staring back at me. If you tend to run more than once a day, you'll want to upgrade to the full version($1).

Run-Watch Lite

This app has the whole shebang in one place. Run Watch Lite uses your iPhone's built-in GPS to track your run, including the route (shown on a map), distance, pace, time, calories burned, and it even shows your elevation.
The display is clear and easy to read, and I love that the map can be viewed by streets, by satellite (with actual photos of the aerial view of your route), or a hybrid of both. While you move, you can see the little blue trail you make on the map, which not only shows your progress, but also prevents you from getting lost.

Another unique feature is the camera icon in the upper right corner. Just tap it and take a photo while on your run. After your run is completed, if you tap "Route" on the bottom, you can get all the stats for your workout including time, distance, speed, calories burned, and it also shows you a drawing of your route and the photos you've taken. If you're into Twitter and Facebook, you can have your workouts auto-posted. Your run is also charted on the monthly calendar, and after several workouts, all those little green stars are a motivational little pat on the back.

The one downfall to this app is that although you can listen to iTunes in the background, you have to toggle between the two apps in order to adjust your music.

**The majority of this information I received through a very helpful website called  Check it out for lots more advice on how to take your running to the next level!

Do you have an app that works best for you? I'd love to hear some reviews!


  1. Hey there!

    So I haven't used these apps personally, but have several friends who like the Nike one :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm looking forward to following yours :)

    Journey to New Me

  2. I use iMapMyRun all the time. I really like it. It's easy and intuitive. I live in the city and use it to figure out how far is halfway so I can turn around and go home. One of my favorite features is that you can change the voice setting to tell you how fast you've gone at different times or minutes. It's both exciting and disheartening, depending on the day.

    I also love it's accuracy. Other GPS programs I used would lose my signal (even though the buildings aren't that tall around here and 95% of the days in SoCal show nary a cloud in the sky) or would show me crossing the street for no apparent reason. iMapMyRun doesn't do that at all.

    I haven't used the MapMyRun site yet, but it's on my list to check out and find a nearby trail.