The state of running apps has certainly changed. I went running Sunday for the first time in years, and wanted to see what the latest and greatest options were to geek out while running. Three apps, 2.5 miles and 25% battery drain later I had a pretty good first run in awhile – both myself and with the apps.
It was actually very interesting to see the discrepancy between apps regarding time, speed, distance, GPS, and other features they all had. Below is a maship of Nike + in app – the final result overlaid on the route I took in Central Park then a pic from the end that lets you put the trail taken on top of a picture.
Overall I would say I was pleasantly surprised from the progress of apps of 3-4 years ago (the last time I really used any). Many of my accounts were still dormant with my previous runs/workouts still in them. Its amazing to think this data is just sitting there. Many have built in game mechanics now, reminiscent of the early Foursquare days, integrating milestones, badges, and social cues to stay motivated.
I would say that one of the cooler features I used was Spotify Running. It seamlessly detects the tempo you are running at, and mixes the music to match. Its a good motivator if you start to hear things slowing down, and a great “a ha” moment when you are going fast and the music picks up. There was even a moment where the background sounds perfectly matched each of my steps and I thought it was the sounds of the trail I was on, but it was actually the music – great stuff.
Using multiple apps is certainly a battery drain, and switching between them while running is all but impossible. I believe the results are worth the charge time and cumbersome nature of using multiples. I also worry about data lock in and companies shuttering these services. The good news is that most of the apps have integrations back into Apple Health and therefore there is a parent cloud record of what happens. Of course the same could happen with Apple but I doubt it.
I didn’t activate any of the social posting features just yet, or join any “teams” or groups. I think there is an aspect of putting yourself out there publicly to stay motivated and have been encourage you or comment on your runs. I see friends doing this often and sharing they beat their latest distance/time/other and it seems to work. I have a long way to go before this becomes a habit, but its a start. Being near the park helps the most. Until next time…