Runkeeper an excellent Iphone App to log your runs

17 Nov 2009 18:54
Jean-Loup Fenaux

I own a Garmin GPS watch and I"m happy with it, but this week-end, I decided to try an Iphone App that pretends do the same job : ’RunKeeper":http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=OOkHLR9TYHU&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fitunes.apple.com%252Fus%252Fapp%252Frunkeeper-free%252Fid300226023%253Fmt%253D8%2526uo%253D6%2526partnerId%253D30.

RunKeeper is available on iTunes AppStore for free. It uses the Iphone 3G internal GPS to keep track of : the time, the distance and the speed of your activity. No matter if it is running, cycling, walking…

So this week-end I tried the app during a mountain bike workout.

Installing the app

When you run the app on your Iphone for the fist time, it will ask you to create an account. All you have to do is enter your e-mail and a password. This will create for you an account on the runkeeper.com website where all your activities will be recorded. I’ll come back to this topic later.

Starting a new activity

RunKeeper - Start screen

it couldn’t be easier. I hate apps with cluttered screen when you have several buttons that seem to have to same pourpose. Here you have a start button. Once started , the screen shows the time, the current speed, the pace and the distance.

You can pause the timing and start it again. All is very straightforward.

The app has to be running during the whole activity, but you can still listen to the music playing on the Iphone. If you receive a phone call while the app is running, it will pause during the call and you’ll be able to resume the activity tracking when you’re finished.

One you have finished your training, just tap on the stop button. The activity will be automatically synced to the Runkeeper website.

My activities on the Iphone

Once recorded, you can access your activities directly on the Iphone. There are two screens. The former shows a summary of the activity, the latter displays the route on a Google Map.

RunKeeper - Activity
 
RunKeeper - activity map

You can zoom in and out on the map. The course is represented with the milage and each pause you took during the workout will be represented on the map by a gray pin.

Adding activities manually

What I also liked a lot is that you can enter new activities on the iphone without recording them. Imagine you went for a workout but forgot your Iphone, or trained inside on a treadmill, you can still add this activity to your activity log.

RunKeeper - manually entering a new activity

The Runkeeper web

As I told you before, all activities tracked on the Runkeeper iPhone App are automatically synchronized with their website. And on the web site you get many additional functionalities.

A new graph for example shows the evolution of the speed and altitude during the activity. The activity is also split in miles or kilometers, showing the pace at which you were going .

If you found the map too small on the Iphone, rejoice! On the web it can be made fullscreen, making it easier to analyze in detail where you have been during the workout.

RunKeeper - Website

Another trick in the bag is that the course of the activity can be manually edited on the map. Apparently this functionality could be useful to correct the course during the periods when the iPhone lost the GPS or had a weak signal.

Runkeeper also allows you to share your activities by making them public.

Does it drain the battery?

During my test, I kept the app running and it drained the battery in about 2 hours. This is because I forgot to switch the screen off by pushing the top lock (the button on the top of the iPhone). Don’t worry, it wont stop the app, it will only shut the screen off.

According to the developer, with the screen shut, the battery could last up to 4 or 5 hours. The problem is that you’ll be unable to easily check your speed. During a short workout, leaving the screen on should be fine.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed testing the app. Will switch to Runkeeper and quit my GPS watch? Not for the moment, the watch is more compact and lasts longer. But I will certainly use it when I have forgotten my watch.

If you own an iPhone and don’t have a GPS watch, you should definitely check the app before investing in a GPS watch.
The basic app I tried is free. Runkeeper also offers a premium version (Runkeeper Pro) which provides additional functionalities that I have not tested such as :

  • Audio Cues (providing audio feed back)
  • Training workouts with vocal guidance
  • Geotagged photos taken during the workout
  • Ipod playlist integration

The Pro app costs $9.99 on the iTunes Store.

Maybe will I be tempted by the vocal guidance or the audio cues that my watch doesn’t provide?

Are you a Runkeeper user? Do your keep a training journal? What equipment and/or software do you use? I’d love to read about it in the comments.