How to Use Technology and Get More Out of Your Running

by April 11, 2012 04/11/12

I’m not a professional runner by any stretch of the imagination but I do thoroughly enjoy lacing up my shoes and getting some run time in. I find running to be a great stress reliever in addition to the obvious health benefits.

With technology today, most people become obsessed with their stats when they really should be running more like a dog. Dogs are simple. They don’t care when they run. It could be night or day, rain or shine. They are just happy to run.

That said, it is still a good idea to keep track of your running so you can measure growth and performance. There are a number of apps and websites out there that enable you to get more out of your running but won’t distract you from enjoying the great outdoors.

RunKeeper & Nike+ GPS

  • RunKeeper iOS – Free
  • RunKeeper Android – Free
  • Nike+ GPS iOS – $1.99
  • Nike+ GPS Android [Unlikely because of contract with Apple.]

These are smart phone apps that use GPS to track your location and speed. These produce useful little graphs of your runs that you can share with others or just record and use as a for yourself. The ability to add friends is fun. You can keep track of how each of you are doing and even challenge one another to a race.

These two apps are in competition which each other and do similar things so you’ll have to try for yourself and see if you have a preference. RunKeeper has a very grass roots startup feel to it and Nike just feels much bigger. Actually, RunKeeper was first to the “game” and first to make their product free but the Nike team has certainly kept working to advance their app.

My Favorite Features

RunKeeper

If you pay for RunKeeper Elite, you can broadcast your run live to your profile page so anyone can track your progress. This would  be great for races or even if running alone so you feel more secure with someone watching over you.

Nike+ GPS

The “Cheer Me On” feature. When you start running, you can tell the app to alert your Facebook friends by updating your status. Once a friend comments or likes that post, the sound of cheering and cowbells comes over your headphones. It’s actually very cool and worth checking out.

Earndit

The idea is simple. Exercise and get rewarded. Incentivizing your workouts is a great way to stay motivated and go the extra mile, literally. Once you sign up for an account, you can link your fitness accounts (RunKeeper, BodyMedia Fit, FitBit, Foursquare, Nike+, Garmin Connect) so that every time you run or workout, you’ll get points based on that activity and duration.

Their list of rewards has really gained some vendors in the past few months and it’s worth checking out. Most of them don’t require much on your part, just redeem your points and reap the rewards. The best part is that it’s completely free so there’s no reason not to sign up.

Fun Run Trainer Pro

If you are unfortunate enough to be forced to run on a treadmill, don’t worry, there is still an app for you. It allows you to run famous races like the Boston, New York, and London Marathons and any number of other popular locations.

You just input what your pace is set to and a faux satellite view will change, moving your position as it really would in a real run. This may or may not help take your mind off of running on a treadmill though. In my test, it appeared to make running on the “dreadmill” only slightly more bearable.

Get Your Run On!

These are just some of the tools you can use to get more out of your running. I like these in particular because they are mostly passive and don’t require attention during the run. What are your favorite running tips, apps, or websites?

Bonus

Some people run with headphones while others like the noise of the city or woods to be their soundtrack. I find myself going back and forth between the two.

I have two basic playlists I’ll turn to depending on what I want to accomplish. A longer run with no real goal will merit film scores or soft reflective music while a shorter and intense speed workout will call for some hardcore, aggressive tunes.

What do my playlists look like? Here’s a sample…

Reflective

  • Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky
  • On Forgetting – Jeff Pianki
  • Holocene – Bon Iver
  • Death Is the Road to Awe – The Fountain

Intense

  • Believe – Breaking Benjamin
  • Ante Up – Mash Out Posse
  • Cochise – Audioslave
  • Chop Suey – System of a Down

My list may be quite eccentric but that’s because it’s mine. Make yours exactly how you see fit. Experiment and see if you don’t enjoy your running more. There’s really no wrong way. Share your  favorite running tips, apps and websites in the comments below.


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Lindsey
Lindsey

I run pretty much every day or used too before fall classes started back, and the nike with GPS app is great it has a free run so you can run "like a dog". If your going to spend 1.99 its the best 1.99 you can spend.

Keith
Keith

I have used RunKeeper and Endomondo to track my running on my Android. I really like them all. It just depends on which one connects to the GPS the fastest. I ran into some problems with RunKeeper at one point which is why I started using Endomondo (FREE). For Music I stream either Pandora, iHeart Radio. But recently I found FIT Radio which allows for you to select music that's 120+ bpm.

Just my two cents.

Semper Fi

Keith
Keith

I have used RunKeeper and Endomondo to track my running on my Android. I really like them all. It just depends on which one connects to the GPS the fastest. I ran into some problems with RunKeeper at one point which is why I started using Endomondo (FREE). For Music I stream either Pandora, iHeart Radio. But recently I found FIT Radio which allows for you to select music that's 120+ bpm. Just my two cents. Semper Fi

Josh
Josh

My personal favorite app for this is miCoach by Adidas. Not only does it track your running, but it has pre-made running plans with varying speeds depending on your goal (e.g. you run differently when training for a marathon vs a 5k). There are also weight-lifting plans that you can select depending on your activity (e.g. soccer vs running, vs general strength). Although plans must be selected on the website, once selected you can track your workouts (both running and strength training) on the phone app. And if you prefer to just free-run with no plan, there's a function for that too.

Winterspite
Winterspite

My favorite running accessory is my Garmin Forerunner 405 watch. It makes it very easy to track distance and pace as I go, especially because I tend to be a very "light" runner (minimalist shoes, a water bottle, my house or car key, watch, and shorts - no cell phone or iPod). Garmin has great feedback on what you've run, where, and everything else. You can also upload the raw GPS tracks into a variety of other applications (some free, some not) and get even more information.

Sample of Garmin output: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/129458483

Winterspite
Winterspite

My favorite running accessory is my Garmin Forerunner 405 watch. It makes it very easy to track distance and pace as I go, especially because I tend to be a very "light" runner (minimalist shoes, a water bottle, my house or car key, watch, and shorts - no cell phone or iPod). Garmin has great feedback on what you've run, where, and everything else. You can also upload the raw GPS tracks into a variety of other applications (some free, some not) and get even more information. Sample of Garmin output: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/129458483

Justin
Justin

I use Zombies, Run! as my run tracker(iOS). It's less tracker and more game but it does keep my time/distance logged...and zombies chase me for more motivation.

Joe Stafford
Joe Stafford

Check out ZombiesRun on iOS. It's An app/game that puts you into the middle of a Zombie story. You run to collect items that you virtually find all while being chased by Zombies. If you get caught, you get eaten and have to start over. After you run, you upload the items you collected from your phone to your computer to build your FOB. I know it sounds kind of dumb, but it's a great motivator and lots of fun. It also records your run data to review or share.

James Shaw
James Shaw

The cheer me on feature and also the "power song" feature in Nike is awesome, I love the app, and it took the place of my forerunner...I had the touch bezel version and on my long runs the touch bezel would mess up because of sweat. Another awesome piece of tech is made by new balance, it's a small light that wraps around the heel ofback of your shoe, I think it's like 12 bucks at target and it's better than using an old PT belt... my runs have a tendency to be at might and having this is definitely safer...have a good run!

Brent Mayorga
Brent Mayorga

Another great app is endomondo. It has a free version and a pro version for $2.99 on Android. I'm not sure about its availability on iOS. Definitely worth checking out.

3e3c3e
3e3c3e

For Android users you may want to check out CardioTrainer. I use to use RunKeeper and when I switched to Android CardioTrainer was the best app to compare with. Since then I have come to enjoy CardioTrainer even more.

http://www.noom.com/cardiotrainer/about.php

3e3c3e
3e3c3e

For Android users you may want to check out CardioTrainer. I use to use RunKeeper and when I switched to Android CardioTrainer was the best app to compare with. Since then I have come to enjoy CardioTrainer even more. http://www.noom.com/cardiotrainer/about.php

Reactor
Reactor

Awesome, I was just about to mention it in a new comment, but I just saw you did.

It's really a great running app !!

Reactor
Reactor

Awesome, I was just about to mention it in a new comment, but I just saw you did. It's really a great running app !!

Brian Lohr
Brian Lohr

Endomondo is what I use and it's great. I picked it up on an Android sale for either 10 cents or 99 cents and I have not been disappointed at all.

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