I started using running apps in 2013 after buying my nike free 5.0. These came with a space in the shoe for a sensor that could be used with an iPod touch and the nike+ app. As I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, this was the only way I could really monitor my runs with any degree of accuracy, and it worked well for me. I loved several things about the nike+ app:
- the trophies/badges you unlocked for different achievements (yes I’m easily amused!)
- the congratulatory messages after setting new records (ditto!)
- ease of use (particularly how easy it was to know your pace during a run)
After I got my iPhone (2014), I continued to use the nike running app as I was already familiar with how it worked. The freedom of GPS tracking via my phone rather than the sensor was good as it allowed me to run in different pairs of shoes- ideal when muddy! The Nike running apps do have several training programmes available, but I have never actually used one as I’m not convinced by the lack of flexibility or explanation about the differences between them. Whilst most programmes are target driven eg. sub 25 5k, the Nike programmes are ranked into beginner, intermediate and expert with no real justification about what these are for. Regardless, I continued to run with the Nike running app until the end of 2014, at which point I temporarily retired from running.
In January of this year, a family friend recommend the app runkeeper to me. I downloaded it that day, used it a couple of times and then didn’t look at it again till June. However, once I started using it again properly, I haven’t looked back! I signed up for one of their 10k programmes and followed it fairly strictly up until I got injured (prior to hurting my knee, I missed one training run). A few months ago, I never could have imagined myself voluntarily going out and running before work, but there I was, running 3-4 times a week! I absolutely loved the transparency of runkeeper’s training plans; how each run is detailed, explaining what it will help develop in you. I really felt my strength and fitness improving, and before I hurt my knee I was well on track to running my target time in my next race. I have only used the free version of runkeeper, rather that the version you have to pay a subscription for, so I’m unable to full detail all of its feature for you. Something that does frustrate me about the runkeeper (free) app, is just how easy it is to click on a feature that is for subscribers only, and how annoying it is to have the prices for the subscription pop up on your phone’s screen, but its a relatively minor inconvenience.
I almost wish that there was a way that you could combine the two apps, harvesting both of their best features! In my opinion, the training plans on runkeeper are far superior; there’s clear information about what each training run is designed to do for your fitness, whilst Nike’s training plans have only a vague explanation for all the runs that week. I do however, think that the nike running app is more user friendly. To hear the voiceover tell you your time/distance/pace, you just need to press the home button on your phone. To my knowledge (and it’s entirely possible that I just don’t know how to use my phone properly), you can’t do this on runkeeper. You’ve either got to wait till it tells you (you can program the frequency of this easily) or strain to look at your phone mid-run, but who wants to do that? I also love that Nike complements you on your record breaking runs with voiceovers from famous athletes, although rather awkwardly I once finished a fast run to be congratulated by the (already disgraced) Lance Armstrong…I guess my app version just needed updating! 🙊
When I return to running (hopefully sooner rather than later), I’m most likely going to use runkeeper. The minor annoyances I have with it are outweighed by how useful I have found it as a running tool. That’s not to say that I’ll never use Nike running again, as I love it too, but currently runkeeper has just edged ahead in my books. If you’re thinking of trying either of these apps, I’d love to hear how you get on with them! Please feel free to comment here, tweet me or post on my instagram!
All the best!