If you are anything like me, you are best motivated to keep exercising or running when you can see the progress that you have been making. Over the past year I have tried a few different websites and iPhone apps to track and analyze my runs. Here is a rundown of the best resources to track and log your runs online.
Best Websites to Log Runs Online
This is by far the best site I have found to log my runs. The clean and simple RunKeeper site makes it easy to add an activity with a dedicated “Post Activity” button. Once you have an account, you can log a run by clicking around a map and then entering the time it took. RunKeeper then calculates key running metrics like pace and distance. The mapping tool is easy to use with just one option of “Snap to Roads” along with a Undo and Reset button.
For those who want an extensive array of graphs showing different aspects of their running history, you can upgrade to RunKeeper Pro. This is not necessary to get most of the site’s features including the ability to share runs with friends and track performance on the same route over time.
Gmaps Pedometer and Google Docs
Before I found RunKeeper, Gmaps Pedometer was my bare bone solution to tracking my runs. The site offers just a mapping tool similar to the one found in RunKeeper. The tool is great for those of you who want to map out a run without having to log in to a website. It offers the ability to map to roads or straight lines and can save routes for viewing later.
In order to record your history on Gmaps Pedometer, I recommend using a Spreadsheet in Google Docs. This free online software allows you to set up your own spreadsheet. Here you can enter the date of your run, the distance provided by Gmaps Pedometer, and your time. Then you’ll need to set up formulas to calculate pace. Finally you can copy in the link to your route saved at Gmaps Pedometer for future use.
This website is a direct competitor of RunKeeper, but is overwhelmed with options and advertisements making it very annoying to use. One great example of this is an ad that sits in the middle of your map while you try to route making it hard to navigate around. MapMyRun does have a test version of their website you may be able to use with less and ads and a cleaner interface, but I still have trouble with bugs that make it hard for me to undo a click in the wrong spot on the map or to log in after starting a map.
The MapMyRun site does have some useful mapping tools like the ability to automatically complete a loop or go straight back to the start for an out and back run. Until they clean up their site though, it’s not worth the time or frustration that you could save at RunKeeper.
Best iPhone Apps to Log Runs
Nike+ GPS ($1.99)
While Nike does not have an online tool to route runs, the company does have the best iPhone app to use. The Nike+ app will record a map of your route using GPS and color code it based on your pace during the run. What sets it apart is its use of the accelerometer to calculate your distance and pace while running. This requires a few calibration runs where you fix the distance afterwards (use a tool like Gmap Pedometer above to get it right) and then is accurate within 0.01 miles.
Runs recorded with the Nike+ app are sent to an online Nike+ Runs site full of more features. You can set goals or enter challenges with friends for extra motivation. You can also find training schedules for different running distances. Best of all, superstars like Lance Armstrong will congratulate you after setting personal bests.
iMapMyRun (Free with ads or $4.99)
This app syncs up with the MapMyRun website mentioned above. It provides a simple option for tracking runs but only uses GPS. Because of this, there is a chance the routing will cut corners on your run and give you a shorter than actual distance. The app also features the ability to sync with heart rate monitors to provide you with useful information regarding your level of effort.
RunKeeper (Free with ads or $9.99)
This app is simple and easy to use and compares closely with the iMapMyRun app. Lately though the app has struggled with bugs that erased users’ running data, but hopefully this will improve.