Recently I received an email from RunKeeper, the running app I’ve used for the past few years. Most of the emails I receive from RunKeeper are pretty mundane updates on personal accomplishments, neat but usually sent to the trash, but this was a nice marker I didn’t expect. As of yesterday I’ve run 500 miles since my first RunKeeper login back on December 5, 2009.
The first run I logged with RunKeeper was the Savannah Bridge run Double Pump, a 5K and 10K back to back, a race I try to do every year. I had obviously been running for a while and didn’t need one of the motivational or training apps that are available, I just wanted an app that would keep an accurate list of my activities. Runkeeper has many options but is, at its core, a timer and a GPS mapping program. I’ve stuck with RunKeeper for all this time because it does what I ask of it. It keeps my time, measures distance, provides audible updates and maps all while letting me listen to music. As an added bonus it’s free.
The app works in unison with the RunKeeper website. When you first use the app you set up an account, enter all your stats; weight, age etc…. you can even set the app to whatever activity you are participating in. The activities include biking and walking or even cross country skiing and there is of course running. You can set the app to give you audible feedback too. These cues include distance, speed, split times and pace. Cues can be set to activate at specific times or distances. Once you’re all set up you press start and you’re off. RunKeeper keeps up with your distance, time, pace and creates a map. At the end of your run you have the option of adding notes. All of the information is stored in your app and sent to the website.
The app has always run pretty smoothly for me. My only recurring issue has less to do with the app than the GPS. If you don’t have a GPS signal then you lose both your distance and your map. Signal loss most often occurs in heavy tree or building canopies. The website s helpful when this happens as you can edit maps on the site. By moving “markers” on the map you can recalibrate your map to fill in any lost distance. I have done this on occasion, most often when running in Europe. Editing maps is a somewhat difficult and the editing system isn’t the easiest to work with but I’m a stickler for distance so I’m glad it’s an option. I’ve read lately about the latest version adding distance to an activity. I’ve had this come up once since updating but only once so I hope it’s not a recurring problem. My only complaint about the app is that comments about runs are not stored on in the app. In order to read your notes you must visit the website. I’ve always wished I had access to notes on my phone.
There are lots of bells and whistles to RunKeeper. There is a social aspect, with the option of automatically posting activities to Facebook and the like. The iPhone’s Music app is integrated providing one touch playlist access. And there are coaching options with a few short program intended for beginning runners as well as an option to create your own. These coaching programs can be expanded apon through the website. The coaching programs are designed by professional athletes and coaches and can be found and paid for on the website to supplement the app.
The basic app is a solid tool that can be expanded on if desired. I recommend it to anyone and especially intermediate level runners.