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March 18, 2013 / jessicamcelroy

RunKeeper

Shortly after my dad and I ran the 10K, I moved away to the Bay Area for a new job. Despite the distance, my dad continues to be a motivation for my running. We keep track of each other on RunKeeper, an amazing (and free!) GPS-enabled app that I have been using to track all my runs since November.

Runkeeper.com keeps a beautiful record of all your runs, including time, maps, splits, average pace, calories burned, and elevation climbed. It’s a feast for a data freak like me! Here is a screenshot from one of my recent activities:

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Runkeeper also has a great social network component. It shares your maps, time, average pace, and other stats with your friends, and likewise you can see their workout updates in newsfeed format. The new version also lets you take pictures during your run within the app and write a little blurb about how you feel at the end.

Another great thing about RunKeeper is its built-in training plans designed by well-known running coaches. Once C25K ended for me I knew that I needed some sort of plan to structure my runs so that I could know how to safely and steadily build up my mileage and have the sense of working toward a goal. So, I signed up for a half-marathon training plan with no particular half-marathon in mind. The running schedule included some helpful notes about what each run was supposed to accomplish, and if the run included intervals then RunKeeper would give an audio notification when it was time to step it up or slow it down.

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When intrinsic motivation isn’t enough to get you out the front door, having a social running app is an effective accountability measure. When I’m riding high on an endorphin rush after a good run, getting to share that excitement with my friends makes it all the more fun!

There are other fitness tracking apps out there, like Mapmyrun and the Nike app. I’ve used Mapmyrun’s website before, but only to play around with mapping out potential routes before I run them. I’ve heard negative reviews about the accuracy of the Nike app, so I’ve never considered using it. From what I can tell, RunKeeper’s GPS seems to be pretty accurate, and overall I’m really happy with the user experience.

I did get an awesome Garmin GPS watch and heartrate monitor as a gift a few months ago, which is going to be an even more accurate way to track my runs. I’m ashamed to say that I still have not gotten around to making the switch! I definitely plan to, though, especially since I recently learned about this awesome app some guy created that will integrate the data from your Garmin watch with your RunKeeper account.

What tools have you used to track your runs? Which app or sports watch have you found to be the most accurate or have the best user experience?

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