I grew up as the daughter of a runner. I’ve been familiar with the sport since I was tiny. However, I never expected satellites and cell phones to become common tools of the trade. My dad had to make sure his wrist watch was fastened and his running shoes were laced before he left for a run. I have to make sure I’ve acquired a satellite signal before I can leave the driveway.
So, I guess it’s safe to say that times have changed. I think they’ve changed for the better though.
With the introduction of smart phones and phone applications, today’s runner can be much more informed. We can literally see our progress, be able to confidently and wisely go for our first run, learn to run faster, and receive coaching all from our little handheld device. There are a plethora of running and fitness applications available. These are just some of the favorites among users.
If it’s GPS tracking you want, you’ve got lots of options.
The appeal of a GPS enabled app is that it is much cheaper than buying an expensive separate device. Many GPS apps have a free version or remain under five dollars. Most of them provide very similar functions and are all subject to the phone’s service provider. If the service is good, the app is good.
iMapMyRun, RunKeeper, Nike+, and RunMeter seem to be the most popular choices. They all have GPS tracking, distance, speed monitoring, caloric output, and activity history. Most of these apps also allow you to store your data on their site. Many of the GPS apps also have social media sharing options too, enabling the runner to track and share their progress publicly, which is great for encouragement and accountability.
These apps and their functions will forever replace the mileage estimates and handwritten running logs of the past.
This app is targeted for beginning runners. No longer does an aspiring runner have to guess about a training plan or hire a trainer from the gym. The app coaches the runner through a series of 30 minute workouts spanning 9 weeks. The C25K app helps the individual start from square one and trains them to run a 5k (3.1 miles) without stopping. The excuses for not getting healthy in this brave new world are getting tougher to come by thanks to apps like this.
There’s nothing like competition to inspire a runner to go further and faster. The Ghost Race app allows the runner to race themselves or a “ghost”. You simply set your competition’s speed and distance, hit start and run hard to beat the ghost. The runner is given updates allowing them to know just how far ahead or behind they are from the ghost runner. Since most of the runners I know are pretty competitive, this app would be great for speed workouts. If only there were medals for beating the ghost.
Many runners accomplish their first distance goals and then find themselves to be a little lost. Or when a runner is ready for a new challenge they often don’t know where to start. Many of us have asked ourselves, “Now what?” The Run Coach app is designed to provide coaching for all types of distances. The app helps create personalized training plans and coaching. The plans are personal, flexible, and high-powered for all skill levels. The app helps the runner by tracking the runs, offering nutrition advice, and detailed feedback. I doubt the iconic gym teacher of the past, the one with short shorts and a clipboard, ever thought he’d be replaced by a cell phone.
Yes, the technology surrounding running has changed since I was just a little kid watching my dad from the sidelines. I think all the smart phone apps have enhanced the sport and made it more accessible to more people. I know I have benefited from the new technology. And you know what? My Dad has to acquire satellite signal before he can take off on his runs now too.
May 23rd, 2011