Apps For the Running Geek

Even though I’ve recently gotten into virtual running (see my previous post on running virtual races), I don’t really consider myself a runner. I’m not in peak physical condition. I don’t have fancy running gear. I’m not part of a running group.

But the other day as I prepared to run, and opened not one, not two, but three different running apps, I realized somewhere along the way I’ve become a running geek. 

When getting ready to run, the first app I open is Runkeeper, by FitnessKeeper, Inc. I only recently started using the free version of this app to log miles for one of my virtual running challenges. As a data nerd, I like this app. Not only does it keep track of distance and time, it will let you know whenever you’ve broken a personal record and give you a map of your run. You can set up a schedule for training, whether it is to run a race, lose weight, or just become more fit. You can also friend other people for some friendly competition.

The upgrade to the free version, Runkeeper Go, is $9.99 monthly or $39.99 for the year. I haven’t yet upgraded to the premium version, so I can’t really say if the upgrade is worth the price. I do know in the few months since I’ve started using it, I’ve seen several offers to get the premium version at a discount.

The second app I open is Charity Miles. This is another free app I discovered through virtual running. To use it, you open the app, choose a charity from the list, and start walking, running, or biking. Bikers earn up to 10 cents a mile, and walkers or runners earn 25 cents for their charity, all courtesy of corporate sponsors.

The list of charities to choose from is actually quite long, and I have several that I rotate through depending on my mood of the day. My dad was a Vietnam vet, so one of the charities I’ve supported is Wounded Warrior Project. I also like picking charities that empower young girls, or charities that provide healthcare for women and children. Lately, however, with the loss of several celebrities in the news, I’ve been choosing Stand Up to Cancer for my run. Knowing that I am not only getting in shape but helping others too has been good motivation.

There is a social aspect to Charity Miles too, in that you can join teams, and see where you rank on the team leaderboard. You can be on more than one team too, so you don’t have to worry about switching between teams.  You also only need to enter the team name once, so no need to worry about remembering team names.

Charity Miles won’t give you quite as much data  as Runkeeper, but it will tell you your total miles, average distance, and average time.

The third app I open is the Zombies, Run! 5K training app, by Six to Start. It’s an 8-week training program designed to get you in shape to run a 5K. You get audio cues on when to walk or jog, but you also get a story that plays out over 8 weeks. Someone isn’t talking in your ear the whole time, though, so between story bits, you can listen to your own music.

The program is designed for beginners, so the training curve is gentle. Each week there is a new routine, so you have three times to do each workout. There are also what they call free-form runs, meaning you walk or run depending on how you feel.

One drawback is that it doesn’t really save any of your data. It will let you know how far your current distance is, but you can’t look back at previous runs to compare your distances.  Also, it only records the date you first did a workout, which means I have a workout marked completed February 4 from several years ago from the first time I did the program. It’s not that big a deal, but when I am trying to remember which was the last workout I did, it would be helpful if the dates showed the most recent date, instead of the first completed date.

Those are only minor drawbacks, though. This app is currently $1.99, but between the well-designed training program and the exciting story that actually makes you want to lace up those running shoes, it’s well worth the price.

The developer also makes an app that is just called Zombies, Run!  I have not actually played with this one, but from what I’ve read there are story missions that take place in the same world, but there is no training aspect. It might be something to check out after I’ve finished the Zombies, Run! 5K training app.

An app that I am not currently using but have used in the past is C25K (Go from Couch Potato to Running the 5K) by Zen Labs. The training aspect is similar to the Zombies, Run! 5K in that it is an 8-week program designed to get you in shape to run a 5K. There is no story to distract you (or entertain you, depending on your point of view!), but it’s simple to use and great for beginners. The developer has many other apps to choose from, including some designed to train you for a 10k, half-marathon, or full marathon.

Those are just a small sample of running apps I’ve been geeking out over. What about you? What apps do you use for running? Let us know in the comments below!