Kinomap Video Training App Review


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Last month I started hankering over a new treadmill. I’d been researching High Intensity Training Protocols and stumbled across Sprint 8 which is a routine designed by Vision Fitness and pre-built into their treadmills as a program option.

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Sprint 8 is quite an enjoyable routine but I’m afraid it sparked a greater interest in the whizzy treadmills with glorious displays and multiple routines. I was lusting after the built-in high-definition screens and the ability run across exotic trails without leaving the confines of my dining room.

Fortunately, before I parted with many hundreds of pounds, I remembered that I’d been asked to try out the Kinomap Fitness app and had been sent a bundle of wahoo fitness accessories to link with the app.

Kinomap has been around for a while but if you haven’t heard of it, the app basically presents you with a virtual reality world to run or bike or row in. The app presents you with a series of videos that you can select from, most of which have been recorded by users out on their training routes.

20130731-131245.jpgThere are hundreds of videos to choose from but the selection criteria are a bit limited (Sport/video equipment source/HD) and as a result the choice can end up being random and the quality does unfortunately vary quite a bit.

The first course I tried appeared to someone’s training loop about the local park. It was a grim experience. It was a grotty park, not the sort of place I’d be attracted to run around in real life and the scene wasn’t enhanced by the camera angle and constant camera bouncing. I imagine the runner had a GoPro attached to their forehead but it was at an angle and their bounce was out of sync with my bounce so I felt incredibly sea-sick by the end of the 15 min routine.

After that I thought I’d be smart and go with a cycle route, at least the camera was likely to be steady if it had been strapped to the handlebars.

The footage was much better but the overall experience was still flawed as our perceived speeds were now out of sync and the footage kept pausing for me to catch up. You can change some of these settings so that the footage either pauses or slows down and there is something called unleashed, which I didn’t notice at the time so I haven’t tested it – it sounds like it may just run at the recorded speed which would be my preferred option.

20130731-125331.jpgThe final route I tried was a section of the 2012 London Marathon, it wasn’t the most atmospheric section but it was fun to be in there amongst the hordes of runners and fairly fast runners at that. From my more usual back of the pack vantage point I tend to spend my time tripping over the run/walkers so I enjoyed the feeling of being with the “proper runners”.

I mentioned that I’d been sent some Wahoo Fitness accessories – a heartrate monitor, foot pod and the dongle for connecting to the iPad/iPhone. These enable your heartrate to be captured and displayed on the screen and for your speed to be estimated to control the speed of video playback. Unfortunately none of the Wahoo gadgets worked – I think the batteries were flat. It didn’t really matter that much as the app will also estimate speed via the front camera of your device. It shows you bobbing around in the lower right hand corner of the display and although its wholly inaccurate its good enough to sense movement and get the video playing.

All in all I think the app and the concept has some promise but it could do with some refining. The biggest improvement would be the ability for users to vote on the quality of videos or write reviews. I trailed through a number of videos and the video stability was either poor or the route was stultifyingly dull. I would have appreciated the ability to apply a filter and try out the routes considered to be outstanding by my peers – I imagine some of them are great.

I won’t be renewing my monthly subscription to this service, partly because of the difficulty in finding good videos but also because I’ve swapped my old iPad for an iPad mini and this is an app that warrants a large screen. In fact it would be ideal projected onto an Apple TV suspended above the treadmill. It not so great on a tiny iPhone screen balanced precariously on the treadmill controls.

I may need to consider that all singing all dancing treadmill again.

Top 10 iPhone apps for Runners

I’ve previously written a Top Running App post but times move on and although some of the apps remain, my iPhone sports folder has been refreshed recently.

Here is my list of the Top 10 iPhone apps for runners, in no particular order.

Let me know if I’ve missed any gems.

 

1. Runmeter GPS Running Stopwatch – Abvio Inc.

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There’s a huge array of GPS apps available and I have been guilty of writing them off as pointless battery drainers. I’m not sure if its the software that’s improved or the iPhone itself but I’ve been seriously impressed with Runmeter. In fact I often leave the Garmin Forerunner at home now and choose to run solely with Runmeter.

It is such an accomplished piece of software. It does the standard route recording as expected but has so many other intuitive extras.

  • Compare times against previous runs on the same route
  • Audible Pace or Interval reminders
  • Route following – download gpx from web, open via email and then follow the trail
  • Detailed analysis charts

2. VIA – Firebird Creative
20121002-100113.jpgThis is a fairly new contender and I have recently reviewed VIA.

It is best described as an audible sat nav for runners (or walkers). It’s quite a novel app and with the latest update it has proved to be a really useful route planner. It was initially launched as a tool to get from A to C via B but now you can add so many via points that you can plot A to A circular routes via no end of twists and turns (well 15 at the moment).

Via App review.

3. Athlete’s Diary – Stevens Creek Software
20121002-095009.jpgAthlete’s Diary was on my original list and I think it’s one of those apps that rewards loyalty as it builds up a huge database of my sporting history.

On the face of it, Athlete’s Diary is a very simple training log. It’s not a GPS unit or step counter its just a training log. Some people will download this and feel a bit cheated, especially as its expensive but I’m a big fan. It rewards a little effort in set up and is incredibly customisable.

I’ve set up a number of keywords such as MaxHR, Weight, Shoe type etc so that I can filter by sport, event and then keyword. To me it has the feel of paper based training log with the benefits of a neat database so I can rapidly select all the entries for the Great North Run and see how my weight fluctuated for each or see all my times for the Bushy Park run.

It’s import and export features have meant I’ve been able to keep track of every run since I started in 2005 by selective imports from each and every system I’ve used to record runs in over the years.

4. Zombies, Run! – Six to Start
20121002-095115.jpgThis is brilliant! If you run, you must get this.

I’m a huge a scaredy cat but there is nothing like the breath of a pack of half-deads to make you run faster.

Absolutely ace fun.

I posted a Zombies, Run! review in more eloquent detail earlier in the year.

 

 

5. LogMyTraining – F.M. Industries, Inc.
20121002-100344.jpgThis used to be called HRM Log FM.

I use this for one reason only and that is to access detailed run stats from Garmin Connect. It syncs effortlessly and then I can view the garmin map, the lap by lap stats such HR and pace and display them all on custom charts.

 

 

 

6. RUNNING PACE CALCULATOR – Andrew Wayman
20121002-100426.jpgThis is another simple app but it does its job better than most.

It’s a straight forward pace convertor and race time predictor.

You enter your time for a race or a custom distance and the app returns a screen with pace and speed conversions in metric and imperial and then on another screen it displays projected race times on the basis of your entry. It also provides a series of recommended training paces.

 

7. Mirror’s Edge™ – Electronic Arts
20121002-095956.jpgThis is a bit of fun for rest days.

Probably the best running game I’ve come across and translates beautifully to the iPad or iPhone screen. For those who fancy themselves as urban runners.

8. AudioFuel Running Music + GPS Run Tracker – AudioFuel
20121002-100507.jpgThe Audiofuel Running App offers something different to the standard GPS offerings. Audiofuel prepare running tracks that are perfectly suited to your running needs, providing a range of beats that target a specific cadence range.

Within the app you can select your skill range – beginner, intermediate and advanced which loosely equate to jogging, running and fast running and from there you can select either timed, interval or marathon sessions.

I’ve downloaded a selection of the shorter programs which are ideally suited to my mid week runs and my particular favourite so far is the Pyramid 180 interval training session which includes coaching – it’s a killer program but the beat and voice over is so inspiring that you can’t help picking up the intensity.

9. miCoach – adidas AG
This is one of the few apps that focuses on training plans. It’s a GPS recorder again but it’s selling point is it’s integration with the miCoach website that enables you to draw up detailed pace or heart rate specific training plans.

10. Nike+ Running – Nike, Inc.
20121002-100543.jpgNike+ doesn’t need much of an introduction. This to me is all about social interaction and Nike just get it.

It’s simple, records you run, plays your music, keeps you motivated and lets you brag online.

I rarely use it but if you’ve invested in your social network you’ll probably love it.

 

ViA – The Audible Route Planning app for Runners

Every once in a while I wake with hangover.

If that isn’t punishment enough for a night of excesses I tend to also discover that the car isn’t in the drive as it was responsibly abandoned the night before and I’m now faced with collecting it. This has given rise to a whole new category of run in my running log – the “hangover car collect” run.

On my last hangover run I had a new app to ease my navigational burden – ViA by Firebird Creative.

The ViA iPhone app is billed as the Sat Nav system for runners and is not to be confused with the multitude of GPS tracking systems in the image of Endomondo or mapmyrun. ViA is a unique, step by step, navigation system with audible instructions.

I’m afraid to say that I am actually quite familiar with my hangover route but I was happy enough to hand over responsibility to the nice chap in the VIA app. He confused me a bit when I left the front door and he suggested I headed north. I am shamefully unaware of my position relative to the north star and had to wing it for a few metres until the chap confirmed I was on track and should consider taking the next right.

I was able to jog on, mindlessly listening to the Marathon Talk podcast safe in the knowledge that my guide would butt in every now and again to steer me closer to the car.

20120919-221309.jpgHe got me to the car with no trouble at all and the experience has left me motivated to try out another running commute.

The app works by setting a start and end point by either searching for a location or dropping a pin. The route selected seems to be running specific and will include one-way streets, snickets and pedestrian bridges. One of the most impressive features of ViA is that you can drop pins to indicate via points. Even google maps can’t do that on the iPhone.

20120919-221147.jpgI’ve plotted my route from Euston to Norbury and with the strategic placement of a couple of ViA points I’ve managed to avoid the humiliation of running down the heaving Tottenham Court Road after work. I can’t wait to try it now. There’s no need for constant checking of the map system either as the voice over will tell me in plenty of time where I need to go. Previously I’ve relied on a pre-plotted crumb trail that I follow on my garmin but that is highly unsatisfactory as you have to weave yourself on and off track.

The app is limited to 3 via points in addition to the start and finish. That is probably plenty for a point to point route but if you want to create a circular course you might need a few more.

I’m hopeful that this is an app in its early stages. There are plenty of improvement opportunities such as the ability to save a route or your run history and the ability to create routes with multiple ViA points but even as it stands this app is a great investment for an urban runner.

**UPDATE**

I’ve taken so long to post my review of this app that the ViA team have managed to issue an update for the app. You can now add upto 15 ViA points on your route which is really exciting and makes ViA a unique run route plotting device.

VIA – Firebird Creative (itunes link)

[easyreview cat1title=”ViA Route Planning app” cat1rating=”8.5″ cat1detail=”Really innovative app for walkers and runners”]

Armpocket Sport – Runners Armband Review

This weekends long run was taken by the coast on a gloriously sunny interlude. Every run prep for the last 6 weeks or so has involved an emergency raincoat but this weekend I had to switch it for sunglasses.

I wasn’t well prepared for the run at all, I had a tiny water bottle and a new armband to try out and 7 miles of a hot dehydrating run ahead of me. I didn’t have much room for my usual long distance supplies and quickly found myself wilting in the sun.

There are a number of loo stops along the coast but there isn’t much provision for topping up water supplies – the sinks have been replaced by municipal contraptions that shower the hands with a mist of soapy water. I did attempt to decant the mist into my water bottle but fortunately one of the cleaners was around and he let me use his private source of tap water.

I wasn’t so lucky at the next stop, no cleaners and no water flow to the soapy misters. I considered the toilet cistern but that was sealed too.

I was trying out the Armpocket Sport armband. This is the 4th armband I’ve had to review and its hard to believe they can be so different. This one is massive and I struggled to find things to fill it with. I started with my iPhone obviously but as its not iPhone specific, the gadget felt a bit floppy on its own. I followed it up with some emergency cash and keys and then found myself at a bit of a loss – the pouch was pretty much empty but what else does a runner want to carry on their arm? It wasn’t big enough for a water bottle, rain coat or a banana. In the end I shoved a bag of boiled sweets in there, pretty much just as a filler.

It proved to be the most comfortable armband I’ve tried out, the arm strap is nicely padded and it will work with a range of arm sizes. Unfortunately I found it a bit disappointing out on the run. I had to slide my iPhone in upside down as the headphone jack is on the bottom, this coupled with the slightly loose, non-iPhone specific housing, made the phone quite tricky to use behind the plastic window.

Having forgotten to charge my Garmin I was using quite a number of apps on the run, I had the now obligatory Zombies, Run! app on the go and was substituting the Garmin with the rather impressive Runmeter GPS app. I struggled and grumbled as I tried to use them with the phone still ensconced in the armband. I couldn’t get the voice control function to translate my breathless instructions so also had to access the phone to make a mid run call and to take a photo of the scenery. It wasn’t easy, the headphone cable is held in a vice like grip and I was worried that if I accidentally disconnected it while I tried to retrieve my phone then my Zombie voice over might be disturbed.

I want to like the armband, it’s comfortable, has a really rugged, good quality construction but it’s just a bit too big and doesn’t suit the iPhone well enough. I’d prefer my phone to be held tighter against the plastic, preferably the right way up and with a full piece of fabric behind it so it doesn’t risk being scratched by the other trammel being carried.

If you want to run with a full sized wallet on your arm and don’t mind bumping into door frames as you pass through, this could be just what you need. It comes in a more subtle black version if you don’t need to draw attention to an expensive piece of kit hanging from your arm.

**UPDATE**

I have just discovered that Armpocket make a slightly smaller version of the armband. To my mind the Armpocket Aero has a much more practical capacity and with the same comfortable and functional strap it could be the perfect runners armband.

A Zombies, Run! Bore

20120402-085728.jpgI’m afraid I have become a tragic Zombies, Run! bore. When I enthusiastically recount tales of my successful zombie evasion runs there are audible yawns from the direction of Lynn.

We were in the park with friends yesterday, enjoying the unexpected good weather and an array of delightful picnic snacks. I took the opportunity, between frisbee sessions to take on new missions as I completed laps of Brockwell Park.

I’d run back to the picnic crew, full of breathless excitement just to be told to pipe down a bit as I was embarrassing.

I’ll try not to make every post from here on in about Zombies but yesterday’s was particularly good. I saved a young child from a Zombie attack and brought her back to the safety of the township.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my review of the Zombies, Run! app and then I will try and contain my excitement.

Oh, and did I mention I’d got the t-shirt?