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Running tools: part 2 November 5, 2011

Posted by Merrilee in Running.

This is the apps edition, especially for Sesa 😉

As I mentioned in my previous post, my number one, can’t do without running tool is my smartphone. I have an Samsung Nexus S (Android), which means that I don’t have access to apps in the iTunes store, but I think all my apps are also carried by Apple. I’m also unbelievably cheap, and I think I’ve only purchased 2 apps ever (neither of them running related). So I’m particularly interested to hear about your apps, and what you’ve found “worth it.”

1. MapMyRun: I travel quite a bit for work. Peak travel can be a week out of every month, which means that running is especially important. Exercise is very important when I’m eating every meal out! And since hotel gyms can be quite variable, running is extra important. For a long time, while traveling my technique was to do a web search on “[city name] running routes.” A few years ago I noticed that MapMyRun would come up with pretty good results, and after a while I figured out that if I put my hotel address into the website, I would get runs near where I was staying. Joy! The downside of travel running is waiting for my beloved 305 to wake up. Because as much as I love my Garmin, it can take a while to locate satellites. It is very dissatisfying to stand outside a hotel, holding your wrist up to the sky muttering “c’mon, COME ON!” It only took me several more months before I figured out that the way MapMyRun routes were created was BY SMARTPHONES and HEY there might be an app I COULD USE to track my TIME, DISTANCE and PACE! (Sometimes I am not so bright.) Now I use MapMyRun almost anytime when I want to track my overall route, but when I don’t care to know my pace or distance at a glance. Plus, while I’ve got my phone, I can also listen to music, which leads me to my next favorite app….

2. Pandora: I used to be a huge NextFM fan, but then my husband got a PandoraOne subscription for Christmas. Now I’m hooked. And (again, I’m not the brightest) eventually I figured out I could listen to my seeds on the go. On the run even! I won’t go into how Pandora works and how it’s different than LastFM (although if you buy me a beer I can go on and on about this and how fascinating it is) but for me it works well. My favorite seeds are Etta James, Curtis Mayfield, and Gotan Project. I need to start a Parliament seed, but I’m afraid my head will explode from funk. But I don’t always like to listen to music.

3. I use BeyondPod to download and listen to podcasts. I’m a die-hard public radio fan, so this is a great way for me to catch up on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life and other programs. My friend Barb recently told me about Marathon Talk which is both funny and super runner geeky. However, I’m not that nuts about BeyondPod, and I’m hesitant to download an app that I actually need to pay for. Do you have a Podcatcher you love?

4. In the not-strictly-running-but-still-fitness-related category, I’ve been trying to loose a little weight and I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track my calorie intake. This is a very clever app with a huge food database (users contribute to it). I like the web version better but the mobile version lets me scan in barcodes of food while I’m on the go, which is very handy.

I also fantasize about apps — for example, this Dark Skys micro weather service app which will let all of you iPhone people see if the weather will be nice for the next hour. I could have used this last winter. I’d also love an app that would dial up music based on my pace or workout. Or a place where I can share my (and see your) favorite playlists.

There are other feature of my phone I use to keep me motivated — I like to stop and take photos of nice spots or interesting features (something I learned from Elaine) and I stay in touch with other runners on Facebook (although not usually while I’m running).

How do you use technology to help with running? What are your favorites apps? Fantasy apps? Playlists? Pandora seeds I should know about?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go running.



1. Sesa - November 7, 2011

Thanks for the recs. 🙂

I used to swear by Runkeeper, tho I also checked out MapMyRun. When I first moved to Pacifica, I tried to find local running routes on MMR … However, there were very few options for me, and they all required long drives by car. So I didn’t use the site after that.

However, I have read similar stories like you, re: using the app while on work-related trips. I think this app would prove most useful while traveling through larger cities.

I’m surprised you can run while listening to podcasts. I tried running along to an audiobook once, on the treadmill. It was so dull. I need a beat to keep me on my toes.

But It seems like everyone is into “This American Life,” so I might check that out and see if I can carry a mile on it.

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