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.

20121002-100242.jpg

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.

 

Is there room in the world for yet another GPS iPhone app?

My iPhone is bulging at the seams with GPS apps that get used once and then discarded as nothing more than interesting battery drainers. I’ve worked my way through Runkeeper, Nike+ GPS, Adidas miCoach and more.

My view is that GPS is best restricted to a specific GPS device such as the Garmin Forerunner, the iPhone battery is just not up to the task. I’ve been out on 2-3hr runs only to find that as my body is packing up and my head is thinking its time to call for emergency backup the iPhone starts it’s plaintive beeping because the battery is dead. The fear of being left stranded at the end of a long run has been strong enough to keep me away from GPS iPhone apps.

Having said all that I’ve just been persuaded to squeeze yet another GPS app onto my page of running apps. The Audiofuel Running App seems to offer something different. If you are new to Audiofuel they prepare running tracks that are perfectly suited to your running needs, providing a range of beats that target a specific cadence range. I’ve got quite a few of their albums and despite preferring audiobooks and podcasts to run to, I often choose an audiofuel playlist when I need a bit of extra motivation.

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 where battery life will not be a concern. 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.

The app plays your selected program, records your GPS route and then enables you to brag about it on facebook and twitter. The social interaction is something that sets the iPhone apps apart from the forerunner and the output is quite impressive although I might prefer to keep my incredibly slow pace a secret from the world.

The app is new and they are offering an introductory 14 day free download trial with access to all their programs free of charge, after that period you get to keep two 20 minute sessions or sign up to their subscription service for more.

I’m very impressed with how well it’s put together and love the motivational aspect of their pricing strategy. I normally avoid subscription based apps but I think the pricing for this one is very fair – £0.69 for a week pass, £1.99 for a month (+ other options). They also offer an audiofuel credit system that means if you run with one program at least 25 times it becomes yours to keep even if your subscription lapses.

The next release of the app promises to acknowledge previous purchases of audiofuel tracks so you won’t have to pay for them again.

AudioFuel Running Music + GPS Run Tracker - AudioFuel

Trail Runner and RaceBunny – A Perfect Complement for the GPS & Mac Enabled Runner

I think I’ve arrived late to the party but I’ve just stumbled upon a brilliant piece of software that can actually give Sporttracks a run for it’s money. TrailRunner is a superb piece of kit that acts as a standard GPS enabled training log but with added mapping and routing wizardry. I haven’t had enough time with it yet to provide a comprehensive review of all its features but I do still want to alert you to its routing functionality.

I’ve been looking ahead to the 16 and 20 mile long runs that form part of my marathon schedule and wondering how to find an inspiring route, possibly with some remote off roading and still ensure that I can get safely home at the end of it. The London Loop offers up some fairly secluded long distance trails but although it is signposted in parts, I know I would still get horrendously lost and throw my teddy out of the pram at mile 19.

I’ve therefore been looking for some way to carry the route with me. I’d just started looking round for yet another GPS gadget when I discovered that my trusty Garmin Forerunner 310XT will do the job for me (as would the 305). For some reason I had got it into my head that the 310XT didn’t support routes. In actual fact it doesn’t support routes but does support courses – I don’t know the difference but I do know that courses are just what I need.

This is where TrailRunner comes into the picture. TrailRunner is a 3 in 1 application: an activity journal, a mapping application and a route planning app.

Trailrunner stores all my routes, whether imported from GPS or created using it’s routing functionality, into my own personal network of tracks. I can also access the GPSies community to import nearby tracks and thereby beef up my own personal network.

I get the impression that network building could become quite a techy task. I’ve been reading the instructions and you have to get to grips with a glossary of GPS and mapping terms and occasionally help the program out by splitting and merging tracks.

Having done this though, the program unleashes functionality number 3 – the route planning function. Trailrunner can create a workout of a set distance based on my network, and if I rate the tracks in advance it will do it’s best to choose a loop taking in my favourite segments. Wizardry!

I’m importing my old workouts as we speak and mapping out the London Loop into 10 mile segments.

I can export any route held with TrailRunner to a number of different formats. If I choose TCX I can import the file to Garmin Training Centre and then send the course to my device. From here I can access it through the training menu. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

This isn’t a feature restricted to TrailRunner by any means. MapMyRun enables you to create routes and then export as a TCX file as does Google (I think), but TrailRunner is such an accomplished piece of kit that I can’t resist investing some time and effort into it.

DCRainmaker has prepared a useful illustrated walkthrough of how to create courses for the Forerunner 310XT (or 305/500/705) using MapMyRun as the route maker and Garmin Training Centre to upload to the device.

You don’t even need to have a Garmin sports watch to take advantage of these features either. RaceBunny is an iPhone app also by Berbie software that works seamlessly with TrailRunner. You can record GPS trails from the phone and import to the desktop software as well as downloading pre-recorded routes into the iPhone.

I’ve got quite a lot of dabbling and learning to do before I become adept at using TrailRunner, as you can see from my mapping example above I’ve got it riddled with waypoints. This isn’t necessary at all as you can link your trails to the map background. So in this case I am using the OpenStreetMap background which has all the legal trails already mapped, all I need to do is click to start my trail and the software miraculously follows the twists and turns to spit out a track.

When I’ve got a little more familiar with TrailRunner I’ll be back to give it a full review but if you love maps and gadgets and have a mac I’d really recommend you give this a go – it’s free and fantastic!

9 Top iPhone Apps for Runners

I’ve been running with my iPhone for a couple of years and I think I have now got a fairly stable armory of running or health related apps that I would be prepared to recommend. I’ll split them into 4 sections and go from there.

The Running Logs

The iPhone is my ever present mobile computer. It bothers me that my training logs are locked away on the laptop at home, or worse, spread across a few online logs like Garmin Connect, Adidas miCoach and Fetcheveryone. Surely when someone asks me how my training has been going for GNR or VLM, I ought to be able to pull out my phone and demonstrate with a pretty chart or a weekly distance log. It’s taken a bit of effort but I can now do that. Of course no one has asked how my training has been going for a while.

Athlete Diary (web link) (iTunes Link)

So for example I have set up a few keywords such as wt, Avg HR, Shoe 1 etc. Each keyword can be defined as total, avg or non-numeric which determines how it is shown on the charts and summaries. As far as I know there aren’t any limits to the number of keywords you can have but it does pay to think about it at the start so you can build up a consistent data set as you go along.

Having set up the keywords I can head back to the search facility and select the date period covering the last year, select running as my sport and perhaps select the training type as race. If I now look at the log it will show me all the running races in the last year. Moving to the summary sheets the same applies – running races in the last year. If I now choose the chart option I can select the keyword of interest so for example max HR to show the variation across the selected events. If I selected a specific keyword in the search facility such as Shoe 1 my log and summaries would show all the runs where I wore shoe 1.

It is such a customisable application that is very nearly worth £11.99

The feature that makes me so particularly happy about my purchase is the import/export functionality. The designers have gone to huge effort to enable you to get all your data into the log. It’s a bit of a faff and I had to wipe the database clean and start afresh a few times before I got the hang of it but I do now have every single run from the last 4 years loaded up. I pulled data out of Sporttracks, Garmin connect, Fetch and others, faffed around with it in excel to get the right format, converted to a text file, emailed it to my phone and the copy and pasted it directly into the import screen of Athlete Diary – Genius!

It’s hard to believe how happy that makes me. All my data inside my little phone. The Athlete’s Diary – Stevens Creek Software is well worth the initial investment in time and money.

HRM Log FM (web link) (iTunes Link)
Before I came across the Athlete Diary I was convinced that the answer to my problems was an app that synced with Garmin Connect. Admittedly I don’t have all my runs on there, I had a life pre-GPS and sometimes I run on the treadmill but in recent times it is fair to say that most have been uploaded to Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is a terrible website though and it doesn’t help me get the stats and data on my phone.

After a lot of searching I came across HRM Log FM. As an app it doesn’t do a lot, you can’t add runs or modify data in any way but it is a perfect way to view data stored on Garmin Connect. The sync is fairly painless and new runs are added to a calendar view, clicking through enables you to view the details – summary, lap details and a pace and heart rate chart. The route map isn’t shown unfortunately but it’s still very useful.

The GPS Apps

I am not a big fan of the GPS apps but then I have a Garmin Forerunner so why would I bother?

The GPS reception is not as good as the purpose built watches and the effort drains the battery far too quickly for my liking. The last time I used it I nearly found myself stranded at the end of the Wandle Trail with no juice left to call for my pick up vehicle.

Having said that I have tried a good few and have been impressed with two: Adidas miCoach and Nike+ GPS. I’ve previously reviewed the Adidas mobile miCoach app and you can read that here.

Technical Running Stuff

PaceCalc (web link) (iTunes Link)

A very simple little app. There are many websites around that will perform the same function but it’s handy to have it wrapped up in a stand alone program.

You enter your time for a race or a custom distance and Runner’s PaceCalc FM 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.

Cadence (web link)

This is perhaps a bit gimmicky but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about efficient running styles at the moment. I don’t have one but would like one and apparently one of the ways to get there is to shorten your stride length and increase your step rate or cadence. 180 steps per minute is the holy grail apparently. Seems unattainable to me but I’m happy to give it go.

This app is just a running styled metronome, I set the rate to 180 (or some other number) and the little feet beat out the pace for me to follow.

That’s all there is to it.

Diet and Weight

Some runners and particularly this one, need to keep on top of their weight, or more accurately chase after it like a hurtling runaway train.

I’ve got two favourites weight logs, True Weight and FatWatch.

True Weight (web link) (iTunes Link)
I’ve used True Weight for a long time, it’s very simple and uses the Hackers Diet principles to show the “true weight” after all the fluctuations have been smoothed. The display is clear and you can view the actual weight recorded as well as the trend line.

I have to admit that unfortunately, these figures are not mine.

FatWatch (web link) (iTunes Link)
I recently moved over to FatWatch as I wanted to record both my weight and my fat %.

It uses a very similar method for plotting the trend and allows you to set a goal and show your progression (or lack of) against it.

Both applications enable you to export your data via email so you need never lose data to a locked in app again.

As you can see I have an unfavourable divergence between the green (target) and red (trend) line so it’s time to take remedial action and start the calorie controlled approach for a while. This is where the last app comes into it’s own.

Tap&Track (web link) (iTunes Link)

This app gets reviewed all over and has proved to be incredibly popular because its so intuitive and smooth to use.

You start by entering your height and weight details and after setting your weight loss goals it determines your daily calorie allowance. By the grace of god or perhaps metabolism, you can increase your daily allowance by logging some exercise. I’ve just this minute bagged 30 mins on the treadmill so that I can polish off half a bottle of bubbly without having scale anxiety tomorrow morning.

Tap & Track -Calorie Counter is a typical food, exercise and weight log and works on the principal that if you diligently record everything that you eat, you might just think twice about putting it in your mouth. I find it quite effective but you have to be strict and record everything.

Like most of these logs it has the American bias but it does still seem to have a lot of foods available locally (including Sainsburys and Pret a Manger) and besides its an absolute doddle to enter your own items which you can then save to your favourites list. I don’t mind doing this, when I go on a diet I tend to eat a rotation of very similar foods so after a fortnight I’ll have just about all the options covered.

I read reviews where people doubt the accuracy of some of the nutritional entries, I’ve found a few problems as well so its advisable to sense check new items or enter them yourself from the label.

It doesn’t seem to handle alcohol particularly well. I’ve entered the details for Stella manually but it doesn’t have a section for alcohol content and so the nutrition chart doesn’t include a piece of pie for the proportion of calories that comes from alcohol. That’s a bit of a shame for me but maybe something they could easily add as an update.

Despite a few niggles, this app is a joy to use, very well designed and so far it seems to be helping me towards my goal.

So there you have it, 9 top iPhone apps for runners, have I missed any must have apps? Let me know.