App Review: 10k Trainer for Pink

10k for Pink is the app I use for my Couch to 10k training. It is a fourteen week program, with the first eight weeks being the normal Couch to 5k program, so if you’ve already graduated from the Couch to 5k program, you would start with week nine.
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It is a pretty simple app. You select the day you want to complete, press start, and the app will audibly tell you when to warm up, walk, run, and cool down. You can control your music from it, as with most running apps. I usually start it and run it in the background, so it’s just click a button and forget it.

If I’ve already warmed up before I start the app (so I can take longer than five minutes), you can easily skip ahead to the start.

Sometimes I do workouts that complete one of the days without the app running. In that case, you can just double click any day to check it off.

Also, I have the free version, but if you upgrade to the paid version of any of Zen Labs’ apps, they donate 5% to the Breast Cancer Foundation (hence the “for Pink”).

Negative things? I’ve had one workout that had a typo and said I would be running 20 minutes, when I actually had to run 22. Also, make sure your phone isn’t on vibrate or the voice prompts won’t work. Otherwise, I’ve never had any problems with the app; it does exactly what it says it will do! I was mildly disappointed when I got it that the first eight weeks were Couch to 5k instead of a slightly more 10k friendly workout, but I am happy to have that base now, so we’ll see how weeks nine and on go!

App Grade: A

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App Review: Strava

Strava is a neat little iPhone app, used for tracking runs and biking. You can use it to log your runs with GPS or you can also use a handy tool that automatically syncs your Garmin data to Strava (this is what I do).

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The main feed shows all of your recent activities, as well as those of your friends. You can comment on others’ activities and give them kudos. When you click on an activity, it shows you a map, along with times and pacing information. Strava has my favorite pacing chart of all the apps I use. I like the bar graph format on the main activity page (above), and the line graph (below) does a perfect amount of smoothing (compared to Garmin’s which doesn’t do enough smoothing and Nike’s which does too much) so I can get the best idea of how steady my pace was.

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Like the Nike+ app, you get achievements. But in Strava you get a lot more of them. (Never a bad thing!) You get achievements for normal PR type stuff, but also for running segments, which are user-defined routes and hills (more on those in a second). The app has a nice graph that shows pace overlapped with elevation. And it shows your max pace (which none of the other apps I use show at all…I love seeing how fast I was running, even for a split second). It will also show heart rate data too (on those rare occasions when I actually wear my HR monitor; it usually makes me too sweaty).

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On the Explore tab, you can look up segments in your area and see the current leaderboard for them. You can filter the leaderboard by gender, as well. (If I wasn’t filtering for gender in the example above, I’d be waaaay further down the list. Apparently more males in the area use Strava than females.)

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Strava has also recently implemented a new Challenges section. The first challenge I’ve signed up for hasn’t ended yet, so I’m not sure really what will happen, but it seems like a great way to keep myself motivated.

Finally, there’s the profile page, which shows your averages and totals.

So what don’t I like about Strava? There’s not much. It’s my favorite go-to for data, even though I post screenshots from Nike+ more (just because I think it’s prettier to look at). I love that I can use my Garmin data. The website also has a feature where you link up your Instagram account, and it detects any photos you post while you run! The only thing I can think of that is missing from the app interface is a list of your current PRs (though you can find those on the website). Download it!

App Grade: A

App Review: Nike+

You’ll notice a lot of screenshots from Nike+ on here (although usually from the website and not the app). It’s just so…colorful. That is honestly my favorite thing about it.

Your profile lists all your PRs and trophies you have received. I love receiving trophies. Getting a 5x a week trophy keeps me motivated to, well, run five days a week. Although sometimes it’s a little buggy and doesn’t award you a trophy when you should have gotten one. This makes me sad.
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You can find your friends on Facebook and Twitter and then compete with them to see who logs the most miles or runs the most times in a given week or month. My favorite type of competition is with myself, but it is fun to see myself on the top of the leaderboard.

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You can choose to just go for a run or set up a specific goal, such as an amount of time or a distance. The app will give you your estimated time for a distance and label what your current PRs are.
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Once you are done with a run, you can choose how good you felt running, what type of surface you ran on, and which shoes you were wearing (so you can track when it’s getting close to retire a pair). The app also color codes your map showing you where you were slow (red) and where you were fast (green).

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It also has handy graphs that show the distances you’ve run over time.

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So what do I dislike about the app? While I don’t have many complaints about the app itself (other than the iPhone GPS isn’t always 100% accurate, but this is not app specific), I do have a few about their website. There’s no easy way to import or export run data files, although it is possible through third parties. I use Nike+ as a backup to my Garmin, so if my watch dies while out on a run, I like to be able to export my data from Nike+ to upload to the Garmin site so that it always has a complete record of my running history. I do wish the app showed my elevation and a graph of my running pace (both of these are available on the website; however, I think they do too much smoothing on their pace graph).

App Grade: A-

App Review: Garmin Fit

I use a lot of running-related iPhone apps. So I thought it would be a good idea to post about each of them and why I use so many.

First up is the Garmin Fit app. This one is a no-brainer for why I use it. In spring 2012, I won a Garmin Forerunner 305 from my company’s annual weight loss challenge. It’s a GPS watch that keeps track of your runs. The watch then syncs with the Garmin Connect website, which syncs with the Garmin Fit app.

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That said, the app itself is not very useful. I use their web interface far more than the phone app to view graphs, split times, etc. The one thing I do use the app for? To enter my treadmill times manually. I can do it right after a run, while I’m staring at my time and distance on the treadmill display. Then it will sync with the Garmin website, which is the master database of every run I’ve done (since I got my watch, but I wasn’t tracking runs before that). Is that worth the 99 cents I paid for? Probably not, since I can do it on the website for free. I would pass on this one, especially if you don’t own a Garmin watch.

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App Grade: D