4 Running Apps in 4 Weeks

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been determined to find the ideal running app for my training.

I asked a few friends who have race experience for recommendations, and I was a little surprised that many of them don’t use apps. They use online spreadsheets, or notebooks, but no apps. Maybe this should have been a warning sign, but I really wanted to find an app that would help me not only map out my plan, but easily and efficiently track my progress against it. A few text reminders wouldn’t hurt either.

I chose four running apps based on app store ratings, online running content and whether they offered half-marathon training plans. This wasn’t a particularly exhaustive or data-driven test. Rather, it reflects how I experienced the apps as a typical consumer and what personally appeals to me as a runner. If you’re trying to choose from the many running apps out there, hopefully this will help you narrow the field.

runkeeper_logo

Feature-rich but a little overwhelming, great personalization/customization, paid version not worth the $

Runkeeper

StravaLogo

 Popular, social, good balance of features/ease of use, reliable, training plans not integrated

Strava

nikeplus_running_logo

 Basic, easy to use, reliable, integrated training plans, great design

Nike

MapMyRun

MapMyRun+

Major Issues …

Ok, so I liked MapMyRun+ initially, despite the $24.99 price tag, because it was feature-rich, with lots of different half marathon training plan options. But then things got super funky. After doing a few normal runs, one day the app told me to do a 4 mile run in something like 12 minutes. Um, yeah … that would be a 3-minute mile and would make me the fastest runner in the world. I scrolled through the rest of the calendar and saw that the rest of the plan had the same problem. I waited a day to see if it was just a glitch, but the problem persisted. I even uninstalled and reinstalled the app, to no avail. I suppose I could have contacted customer support, but I was just over it, and requested a refund (which I got). Oh, well.

The Verdict

Given my running level and goals, I want simple, reliable features/functionality and a built-in training plan. So for half marathon training, I’m going to stick with Nike+. After the half, I’ll probably go back to Strava, because in addition to the simplicity, I really liked the robust social community. If their training plans were better integrated into the app, I’d probably stick with them through training as well.

Some Other Useful Tidbits

I mentioned that I talked to some friends with race experience to get their recommendations. They’re all great runners, so I trust their advice and wanted to share it:

  • My friends John and Kate recommended the Hal Higdon training plans, and others I’ve talked to have also mentioned them. They used the downloadable spreadsheets, and there’s also an app. Unfortunately, it’s not very well-rated, so I decided not to test it. But the overall plans could be a great option for people who don’t care about having an app.
  • My friend Allie uses her own spreadsheets for training but emphasized heart rate training. Although none of the apps I’m using are able to integrate my Apple Watch’s HR functionality, I’m still going to pay attention to my HR separately on her advice.
  • A dietician/athlete friend recommended the Training Peaks plans. They look good but since I had already spent $ on three apps at the time, I didn’t want to pay for any others. Also, there didn’t appear to be an app.

Also published on Medium.

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Chrissy Trampedach
Chrissy Trampedach is a PR & communications pro by day and fitness buff, skiing fanatic, dedicated yogi and wannabe tennis champ by night (and weekend). As a former competitive figure skater, she’s lived a life of training and sports from a young age. Today, she fuels her competitive spirit and drive to challenge her body and mind with USTA tennis, skiing adventures around the world, the SF yoga community and tracking the latest fitness trends. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Tim and their “75-lb lap dog” Enzo.

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