App Reviews: Run-Trackers

For years now, I’ve used a paper journal and a bare-bones app called Runner’s Log to log my runs. Runner’s Log – and a companion app called Walk Log – has been great. It’s the sort of app that is so basic that it doesn’t even have in-app purchases. You hit start and stop, with an option to pause, and it tracks your distance, time, and overall pace. You can track your stats weekly, monthly, or yearly for distance/pace, and view a calendar that stamps every day you ran/walked. In Runner’s Log only, it also tracks the miles on your shoes so that you know when they’re getting old.

While this has always worked well for me, there’s one little thing that Runner’s Log won’t do, and that’s track current pace as well as overall pace. I can’t look at splits, or look at how fast I was going at minute-five verses minute-twenty, or how long it took me to complete a specific mile. (It also doesn’t track elevation, but I don’t care.) With wanting those stats, I began looking at other running apps. There were several that I knew were regularly used: Map My Run, RunKeeper, Runtastic, and Nike Run Club. Without any research at all, I downloaded Map My Run and began to compare apps.

(how I felt about MMR)

Map My Run
I’ll keep this short, because I already discussed what happened the one time I used MMR on my Shamrock Shuffle Race Report. Essentially, the GPS function was crap. The stats certainly looked good, but since the distance was WAY off, it didn’t help me at all.

At this point, I asked Facebook what they suggested. Immediately, several friends recommended RunKeeper, while one mentioned Nike and another Garmin. I’ve not found the Garmin GPS to be terribly accurate in the past (I’ve written several posts on that), not to mention I wasn’t looking to buy a new device. And since I had more votes for RunKeeper, that was next on my download list.

The next time I went out to walk/run, I first turned on Runner’s Log, and then switched over to start RunKeeper. When my workout was over, I stopped both apps. The distance on them was nearly identical. RunKeeper was different by 0.02 miles – absolutely no problems with that at all! Furthermore, RK had a bunch of stats to look at, including steps per minute, elevation, pace over time, etc. It also has a social component, so that I can be friends with others using RK. While I was doing my workout, I got regular updates on my distance, current pace, and average pace. The initial settings (every five minutes) were a bit much for me, but I was able to change them to something more manageable (every half-mile for now). In all those ways, the app was great and I could see myself quitting Runner’s Log altogether except for one specific thing:

(how I felt about RK)

I’m not sure what’s up with this, but RK doesn’t seem to do shoe-tracking very well. I can’t add miles to the shoes that were on there prior to me using the app, nor does it let me choose my shoes if I go for a walk. I took a one-mile walk around the neighborhood as my second RK test (GPS was perfect, btw), but because I marked it as a walk, there was no shoe option. So if I really want to track my shoe condition, I’ll have to keep that on Runner’s Log. Thankfully, RL has a section for “unlogged miles” that I can add to the overall total, so this should be easy. But still, I hope RK fixes and/or cleans up this feature in the future.

Because RunKeeper worked so well, I never tried Runtastic or Nike Run Club. No reviews for them. Just a big fat NOPE for Map My Run and a thumbs up for RunKeeper. (Plus a shout-out to Runner’s Log, which has been trusty and wonderful and absolutely what I needed over the last decade!!)

***Note: After later workouts using RK, I’ve found that the GPS does fluctuate more than I like. I can do the same route five times and have it give me a distance up to a tenth of a mile off. That’s a huge discrepancy and very frustrating. I may or may not decide to try other trackers and do a further review in the future. Strava is one that comes to mind that I’ve heard good things about, one I didn’t know about when I began this process. We’ll see.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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