let's get physical

RUNday: RunKeeper

Let’s talk about exercise and technology.

Do you use any apps when you work out?

My phone already had Nike+ iPod preloaded on it. But as popular as the Nike name is, their software and I got into one too many fights. (In short, it refused to sync some of my runs.) Furthermore, I was fed up. I found their insistence on using their chip to track me a little unnerving.

What if my next pair of shoes aren’t Nikes? How would I record my runs?

(I knew I could by a device like this to hold Nike’s chip. But I didn’t feel like getting one.)

Enter RunKeeper.

Not only is it a free app, but it records my workouts via GPS. Which means I can wear any shoes that I like.

It also keeps track of things such as my pace and distance.

Since I first began using RunKeeper, they have made improvements. Recently, they launched a set of free training programs. These include useful features such as pre-programmed intervals.

Thus far, I have only two complaints.

Firstly, RunKeeper automatically pauses its recording when you aren’t moving. Say, if you stop to re-tie a shoe. However lately the “pausing workout” prompt has been going off without warning–while I’m still jogging.

You can also listen to music while you run. Yet users should know that the software will only accept your music if it’s a part of a playlist. If I want to listen to a particular artist or a podcast, I have to go outside of RunKeeper into my Music app.

Now, this may not sound like a problem. But in RunKeeper when you play music, it pauses the music so that its audio cues can remind you of things such as your speed. Outside of RunKeeper, the app’s voice and your music will overlap. I found this out the hard way one day when I tried to listen to an episode of This American Life.

In hindsight I realized that there’s a way to work around this problem. I should have turned off the prompts or changed their frequency.

Ah well. You live, you learn!

Overall, though, RunKeeper’s a useful program. I figure over six million users can’t be wrong.*

*I was looking for statistics on RunKeeper’s users. I found that information here.