When it comes to the prospect of tracking your runs or cycling ventures, it can often be quite a daunting prospect when faced with the plethora of apps claiming to be best suited for your needs. Configuration between iPhone and Android along with compatibility to other devices, wearables and shoes can often be confusing to decipher and therefore narrowing to one app that can consistently provide you with the information and enjoyment you require from it is quite an important task.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rise in those utilising these platforms and so ensuring you have the best fit for you is vital to maintaining your fitness journey.
The co-ordinated boom of health and fitness alongside technological advancements since the turn of the millennium has seen a wave of new ideas flood the market. Wearable technology such as Nike’s FuelBand has come and gone but the desire to monitor, track and compare fitness goals is still prevalent within the fitness community.
For now however, we are going to focus on the apps that provide you with all of the data you need to track your physical exercise, breaking them down into their Unique Selling Points (USP) and comparing them against each other.
Strava has long been perceived as one of the front runners of sports tracking apps and its’ specialty in running and cycling has seen a considerable boost to the company during the COVID-19 pandemic. During 2020 alone, Strava saw 73 million total athletes across 195 countries use its platform, with 2 million joining every month. Over 1.1billion activities were uploaded to its platform throughout the year, a 33% increase in 2019.
In short, Strava tracks your total activity time, running or cycling speed, distance travelled, course and a rolling speed per km or mile within its’ free version. Combining aspects of a social network in the form of adding pictures and providing ‘kudos’ to activities of people you can follow make this the perfect app for combining your physical and social desires in one platform.
In addition to this, game-like leader boards between friends or clubs as well as local challenges on specific routes provide a competitive element to your physical exercise as well as the ability to create and log your route. Providing a comment or a measured physical exertion at the end of your activity can put the finishing touches on a complete, well-rounded and comprehensive app. In-app purchases and memberships are optional for those looking to experience a full training assistant with recommended workouts and routines but for a free app, it has all the bases covered.
Strava provides a simple user interface, allowing you to begin your workout with just two taps of the screen once the app is opened. Tracking uses your phone’s built in GPS and the app itself has been optimised for both iPhone and Android with exceptional ease. Being able to integrate with other fitness trackers such as an Apple Watch, or Heart Rate Monitors, Strava provides a comprehensive overview of your activity credentials.
Nike Run Club
Nike provides a simplistic approach to the in-run experience, providing optimised breakdowns of the most vital information; distance, average pace, time and heart rate. Optimised for integration with the Apple Watch, the Nike Running Club App provides coaching support throughout your run, breaking down your splits through your headphones or watch, avoiding the need to bring your phone out to glance as you go.
A fantastic additional feature within the app is to tag and track your shoes. Available through every Nike running shoe on the market, you can record and monitor your workload through each shoe to avoid any potential injuries that may occur from excessive use. A Nike coach assists you through specific workouts, challenges and running sessions to provide variance to your fitness routine and a custom colour-coded background provides the focus on the metrics that matter. With the ability to share your workouts and receive personalised coaching, Nike Run Club provides a comprehensive entry into the competitive running app market.
Adidas Running (formerly Runtastic)
Adidas provides a fantastic offering, compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The all-in-one system tracks a variety of running metrics whilst mapping your routes as you go. Time, distance and speed are all logged on-screen during your workout and customised voice coaching and motivational cheers are an extra boost whilst working out.
A big positive with the Adidas app is a configurable dashboard, allowing you to choose the information that is most important to you, such as km per hour or calories burned. In addition, community features goals and challenges provide an extra layer for the competitive in the free offering and a premium subscription, available for £3.75 per month on a year-long contract, provides access to training plans, the ability train specifically with a focus such as interval sessions as well as the ability to plan your routes.
Runkeeper has long been a favourite amongst runners, being compatible with both Apple and Android devices. Running powerhouse Asics are behind this practical app, weighing in against the aforementioned commercial giants.The ability to download well practiced routes or simply to track your distance through your phone’s GPS whilst recording the most important metrics makes this an easy-to-use platform for cycling and hiking as well as a traditional run.
Measuring progress is easy along with a workout history, game-like features for the competitive and the ability to sync with numerous other apps and devices available on the market today.
With the ability to sync your data with a number of useful apps, fitness trackers and with their popular MyFitnessPal nutrition tracking app, Under Armour’s take on the running app provides real-time stats as well as totals at the end of a run. Your phone’s GPS is utilised along with other sensors to track your routes along with time taken, speed and total distance travelled.
Advertisements can prove somewhat frustrating to those in favour of a clean screen but can be removed with a premium subscription.
Inevitably, established sporting brands such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour have a big impact on the global market and have done so with their own running apps. Brand loyalty and effective systems have created impressive apps that can fulfil every possible wish a runner might have and, most of the time, for free.
With all fitness apps, everyone’s own fitness goals and preferences are unique so experiencing as many different apps as possible will be important to ensure you find what works best for you.