These apps keep you exercising (and Foursquare/Gowalla/Yelp/etc should be paying attention)

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love apps that use geolocation. That’s why I’m such a Foursquare freak. Tonight Maryam and I went on a date and I checked in along the way with Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp. I regularly let my friends watch where I am on Google Latitude, etc.

But, one of the things I want to improve in my life is I want to get back in shape. My son has been running and has lost a lot of weight and looks, well, hot!

So, I’ve been looking for some motivation and here I’ve found two apps I’m trying out when I go for a run: Runkeeper and Runmeter.

So far I like Runmeter slightly better, but here’s the CEOs of both companies showing me their apps:

1. Runmeter/Abvio’s CEO, Steve Kusmar.
2. Runkeeper/FitnessKeeper’s COO, Mike Sheeley.

One thing is that these apps work great for other kinds of sports too, like cycling, walking/hiking, or skiing.

Why are they motivational? Well, with these you can share your run with the world and how fast you have gone. It even, while you’re running, shows you your previous best pace so you can see if you are going faster or slower than you were going last week. By sharing your runs with the public there’s some public pressure to keep it up. I haven’t yet gotten brave enough to share my runs, but I will soon.

Do you use apps like these to keep track of your exercise? What do you like about them? Which is your favorite?

Why should Foursquare or other location-based services pay attention to them? Because they are great ways to add more data onto locations. People who run around Golden Gate park, for instance, are far more likely to know the ins and outs of the park than other visitors. Plus, it’d be fun to hook in different courses/runs into Foursquare or Gowalla. Gowalla has something called “trips” but that isn’t granular enough for a hike, a run, or a cycling tour.

16 Replies to “These apps keep you exercising (and Foursquare/Gowalla/Yelp/etc should be paying attention)”

  1. I'm using Runmeter, following a recommendation, and loving it. Like the tracking and across location/pace/altitude. The only thing I want now is to let me set the audio to encourage/shout at me for the last quarter of the run πŸ˜‰

    1. Rachel, glad you’re enjoying Runmeter. One suggestion: Use Runmeter’s ability to race against yourself to nag / encourage you throughout the run along your route. Every time I finish the last quarter of my run, I’m always thinking “Am I going to beat my median run?”. It drives me faster all the time. — Steve

  2. It would be interesting to see one of these apps partner with Foursquare using the tools Foursquare already has in place. They could post tips on venues like parks to highlight some of their most popular runs. The tips could include a link to the run on their site. People who check in to 10 venues and mark the runs as “I've done this” could earn a badge for it.

  3. Great information. I was wondering if the CEOs could share with us their favorite iPhone accessories like headphones and case. I find that running is very hard on headphones!

    1. Thanks for the question, Dan. I like the belt for holding my iPhone when running or cycling. It’s small and fits underneath my shirt, and it works great for running and for cycling. Wear it in the back for cycling, so that the GPS is more exposed to the sky.

      If you want to use our apps with a bike mount, the BioLogic gets good reviews from our customers. I prefer to keep it in a belt, and use one earphone in my right ear (the other tucked into a jersey so I can hear traffic) to get status updates when riding, rather than having to view the iPhone’s display, which burns the battery faster. I use our remote control ability to stop and start and get status updates.

      Any earphones that can stop or start music on the iPhone can be used with our remote control capability, with wired earphones being preferable because you don’t have to monitor their batteries. I use the standard Apple earphones, though Sennheiser and most others work great.

  4. I use MapMyRun which has the same capabilities. It will work for any of the sports also. May want to add that to your list of apps to try. Been using for years, but may give these two a try also.

  5. I have been using RunKeeper for over a year now. Started with the free version and after 6 months bought the Pro version. The RunKeeper app is great and it just keeps improving with every upgrade. You have three screens of data during your run – if you need it but since they have added the voice prompts I rarely need to change screens. I listen to books and podcasts while I run and the voice prompts are perfect. As far as the app goes the Voice prompt is probably my favorite feature. I use it for target pace and for my current stats (distance, current pace, etc.). Runkeeper also has a fantastic web site with even more information. You can put in your weight, etc. and then it helps you track calories burned etc. They also have integrations with the new “online scales” if you want to go that far. Lots of social aspects too – “Street Team” running groups, sharing, etc. Very nice all around solution, great team behind it, and constant improvement – what more could you want!

  6. Dan,
    Lots of our users like the Marware armband case for the iPhone
    I don't know of users' preference for headphones. All headphones work with the audio cues that come with RunKeeper. Also, tapping the screen of iPhone will give you audio cues whenever you need them.

  7. also, as long as you have cellphone signal, GPSed enables other people to see your real-time position on the GPSed map when you are recording your GPS tracks with their app. If you're not too familiar with the trails of the place you want to go to, the Explore section of Garmin Connect might have the GPS tracks of people who have been there before. Download their tracks to your device to guide you.

  8. I use Walkmeter on my iPhone. One of the first apps that I paid $4.99, yet worth every penny. You can also change the mode to Running or Cycling, so it's flexible.

  9. I used Runkeeper Pro for quite a while. Useful, but every once in a while, though, it (or the iPhone) will drop the GPS signal. But when that happens, Runkeeper doesn't tell you it's happened – it keeps on computing your pace based on faulty location data. The pace data becomes unusable, but the app keeps announcing it to you. I was using it to pace my way through a five-mile race a couple of weeks ago when this happened, making it worse than useless. I've gone back to using my heart rate monitor's shoe pod for speed and distance tracking.

    Not sure these GPS running apps are really ready for primetime just quite yet.

  10. It can't compare directly because you need a specific device, but I use a Garmin Forerunner watch and upload all data automatically to Garmin Connect. I find it really powerful (I measure distance, speed & altitude with the gps, heart rate with the heart monitor, and cadence with the foot pod) and I love to explore other users' runs to discover new places.

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