Running apps installed on mobile devices are an extremely popular thing. But there aren’t many really good solutions.
In general, the best “app” for running is a sports watch with a GPS tracker and heart rate monitor. Everything you need is there, and all the data can be transferred to a laptop and analyze your training progress on it. The only problem is that the cost of good sports computers for running or triathlon, such as Garmin or Suunto, does not allow everyone to easily buy them.
And athletes still prefer to integrate their watches or cycling computers with apps. This is due to the convenient viewing of the training log, both in the mobile and desktop versions. And also with the social component and additional interesting functions.
At the same time, novice runners don’t always know how long their healthy hobby will last. They prefer to save money on equipment, and running apps installed on the phone do not require costs and can stimulate the desire to continue running.
But there are significant disadvantages – the need to carry a smartphone, the lack of sensors heart rate (the most important indicator), not always user-friendly interface, glitchy operation and dependence on the developer.
Popular apps for novice runners
Most of the popular running apps I personally didn’t like. Rancipers, Rantastic, Adidas, Nike, Endomondo – all had something wrong with them. This manifested itself in everything from an uncomfortable, cluttered or simply incomprehensible interface to some kind of glitches on startup. Some of the free versions had too many ads.
And the native Garmin application on the old smartphones did not work at all and dropped out with half of the new ones.
All of these apps are very popular and even have their own communities. But I have never been able to figure out why. Moreover, for some unknown reason, they are installed exactly by newcomers to running (usually bundled with weight loss apps). Perhaps because they usually pop up first on Google Play and the App Store when you type “running” and other synonyms into a search.
But the main disadvantage of most of them is still the inability to install and immediately run to training. They are packed with 90% of absolutely unnecessary functionality, and it is not always easy to understand what is what. This is clearly intended for beginners, to impress them with abundance of useless features. It would be better to improve the accuracy of the work.
Of the more or less advanced runners, cyclists and triathletes, among the entire large circle of acquaintances, of the listed applications, judging by surveys, only a few people used Garmin limitedly. After all, it comes in conjunction with a native watch and a couple of bikers have raced cross country with Endomondo.
The rest of the athletes who already run, ride, or swim for results use the next two. Of those who use apps at all, of course. Since there are also semi-professional level athletes who are free of it and don’t even have a watch.
The Finnish developer Sports Tracker has the most user-friendly interface, clear data structure and no bugs whatsoever. The application is not only for running, but also for other cyclic sports.
The coolest thing is that the application was able to function absolutely normally even on the oldest and cheapest devices. The wonderful interface has nothing superfluous and is very user friendly.
Sports Tracker displays on your mobile screen what it is supposed to display. There is a Google map with your current location and the route taken. You can see all the nuances of training later on their website by logging in with your username and password (link).
Perhaps someone will be interested to see who is training nearby (if the person has made the training publicly available for viewing) and with what scores.
Photos taken by people while they’re working out. This is not Instagram, where everything is piled up. The photos here have a real connection to the area and are therefore more interesting in terms of training.
Of course, there are paid hidden features that promise cool benefits and incredible extensions. But I’ve only used the free version and I think it’s enough.
In general, Sports Tracker is a perfectly designed application with high speed and no unnecessary silly features. It’s the closest thing to active sports and gives you exactly the information you expect.
As it turned out later, this particular application is the second most popular among fans of outdoor activities and sports in neighboring Europe. A recurring drawback is the long search for a GPS signal, especially compared to the following application.
Much more popular is Strava (link), an app aimed at triathlon, but more focused on the sports social network. Its main idea is to beat the records of your own routes and sections of other participants all over the world, including the pros.
Strava has everything you need, too. The terrain map is awesome, there are recommendations and goal-setting (though, in the paid version). But here is an interface could not fall in love with him. However, this is only at first glance. In the end, the minimalism will please most users. And later, after dealing with numerous functions, it becomes clear that the control panel is made just right.
Strava has long captured the market for smartphone sports apps, thanks to its strong social component. It is positioned as a social network for athletes, with more than just amateurs. It includes the current elite of world sports: marathon runners, cyclists, triathletes, etc., whose training sessions are usually open for viewing.
Strava really is the best app for running and biking today. This becomes clear once you understand all the features and learn about the number of users.
At first glance, the interface, despite its minimalism, seems confusing. But after the first training records, everything falls into place and is very convenient.
Of course, it is much easier to analyze data on a PC than on a handheld device.
In addition to what we set it up for (to get training data), Strava offers us to create our own routes, as we pass them, it will analyze our progress. Or take advantage of the numerous section segments that users in your area create in order to show the best result on them (the so-called section record).
Or join a running or cycling club, of which there are plenty. Especially if you’re bored with training alone. Of course I created my own: RUNIRON (I invite you!)
By the way, it is the competitive feature of this sports social network that has made Strava so popular around the world. In addition, no one else has similar features. So there is no competition to speak of. By the way, you will not see any advertising there either, even in the standard version.
I have to hand it to Strava. The app stimulates training much better than all analogues put together. Perhaps for some people this will be the deciding factor in their choice.
Disadvantages of the apps
In general, the bad thing about running apps is that most novice runners carry their phone with them to training. And in their hands. This disrupts running technique and creates an additional distraction.
You can also throw the house keys in there. The headphone output is present on almost all belts. Some running apps, like Sports Tracker, have a customizable workout voice prompt that tells you the basic parameters. True, mine spoke in English, but it’s understandable.
However, for the same price you can buy an armband for a smartphone or running shorts with a special smartphone pocket on the back of the waist.
But the most important thing for many runners remains unaccounted for – heart rate. Maximum, average, minimum, etc. Almost all developers are adding to the sports apps for Android and Iphone, such as integration with some models of heart rate monitors.
Typically, these heart rate monitors have a heart rate (heart rate) sensor on the chest and the wrist device (watch) itself. A good watch, in most cases, has GPS. This raises a legitimate question about the appropriateness of using the app.
However, the same Strava or ST offer to simply buy their own heart rate sensors separately. This is undoubtedly more profitable, but a running watch is the best solution, so it’s up to you to choose.
Advantages of apps
Now about the benefits of a running app installed on Android or iPhone.
- The first is, of course, mileage. Without it, it’s hard to stick to a training plan.
- The second thing is the pace. The most important parameter of workload and running efficiency.
- Third, the ability to analyze the load curve along the entire route. This includes the dependence on ascents and descents.
The function of determining the altitude difference usually does not work very correctly if the phone does not have a built-in altimeter. Therefore, a clock with an altimeter cannot be replaced here. Most of the applications are oriented on the data of topographic maps.
But the most important advantage is the motivation, which increases many times over, the moment you dig into the program functions or study the training and performance of other users.
A very powerful perk of Strava, which instantly puts former competitors behind the scenes, is the ability to track wear and tear on your equipment. You enter all your sneaker or bike models and track their mileage. As you know, running shoes need to be replaced every 500-800-1200 miles at most, depending on load and conditions. The app will let you know when it’s time to go shopping for an upgrade.
Just do not forget that one of the pairs you set by default and, in case you wore another today, for example, for the trail, then after training you should select them.
Stopwatch + Google
In general, if you run one or two routes, you can get by with an ordinary, cheapest electronic watch with a stopwatch. Google Maps is great at measuring distance on the ground. That is, after a couple of runs you can easily remember where the first kilometer ends and the second (third, fourth…) begins, and by looking at the stopwatch you will see your running pace. There’s nothing easier.
But, yes, the running app is interesting. Even though most of the information there is completely irrelevant, it’s good for stimulating the neural connections of the brain and setting them up for a healthy lifestyle. Plus, you can post selfies of yourself in your new glamorous sneakers.
For the training plan
Another line of apps is designed to create your personal training plan. Judging by the live reviews, there are no good options today. Except for the app from Asics. To be more specific, MyAsics. There is an app for both types of callers, but it’s more convenient to use it on the web via your laptop or tablet (link).
MyAsics was recently renamed Runkeeper and oriented for installation on a smartphone.
For training for a marathon or any other distance it may be a good combination of Sports Tracker (or Strava) + Runkeeper. But the recommendation to buy yourself a normal watch with GPS and altimeter still stands.
ST and Strava, which was originally designed for triathletes, and almost all other applications have a “swimming” mode. Not all smartphones have a positive attitude to water, the vast majority of them do not like it.
Waterproof device can be attached to the arm and it will even pierce the GPS signal if you are not in the pool, but in open water. However, the swimming mode is designed for the fact that after training you simply from your watch Garmin, Suunto or Polar pour all the data directly or in the form of GPX-file. It is most convenient to do it in Strava, besides it goes to the connection faster.
By the way, GPX or FIT files can be moved back and forth between applications. This can be useful if you have an old version of Android and something stopped working after the next update. Then you can temporarily install a less demanding app and transfer your workouts from it through your personal account to the account you prefer.
Alternatively, you can enter the training manually. But in this case there will be no display of the track, its segments (segments), or other interesting data. Why is this necessary? Because all workouts (running, biking, swimming) are stored in one place. It is convenient when a report is made both on the total load level, and individually in the form of graphs and tables.