With the winter nights drawing in, base training miles can really begin. The Appstore is currently bombarded with a host of different training aids but choosing the right one can be tricky, our resident lab rat Toby Cryne road tests the latest smartphone apps for the colder nights.
Ӕhe latest technological advances make even me feel old. The iGeneration seems to get younger with each new release as my 12-year old sister is frankly more up to date than I am. I wouldnִ care so much if I wasnִ only in my early twenties.
By her age I was already a pretty solid runner. I had yet to discover the real evils in life and so, would bound about the hills of West Yorkshire in my football boots, judging the distance covered by how knackered the dog was. It was a simpler time.
As I progressed to larger distances and various different sports I soon began to pick up on the benefits of using technology. To start with, a watch made an appearance on my forearm. This meant that I no longer had to use the oven clock in the kitchen before and after my run to determine how long I֤ been out for. After that, I soon developed an interest in heart rate zone training and so would strap on a rudimentary monitor from Lidl to track my bpm over the run. Yet still, I had no idea how far I had run, had no idea about split timesand judged elevation by how much my calves hurt. I could have invested in a Garmin GPS watch but ó50 always seemed a little too extreme for me. I֭ a Yorkshireman donִ forget.
In the years that followed the standard of˭obile phones skyrocketed.˔he Nokia 3310 seemed to be replaced by the iPhone more or less overnight and a host of amazing gadgets made their way onto our screens. Gadgets that are perfect for the fledgling endurance athlete.
But what should you choose when shopping on the Appstore? With so many products out there on the market today, we here at PhysioRoom.com have clubbed our heads together to choose our favourite˷orkout tracker apps to supercharge your base training this winter.
Often touted by the fitness community as the app for pure competition, Strava is not for the faint of heart. Like most apps out there, Strava uses your smartphoneֳ internal GPS to track your location, time, calories burned and speed. Designed initially for cyclists, the app now contains a runners feature too and links to the Strava website instantly. The app itself is more like a social network in that it automatically plots your personal bests against other folk in your area. This allows you to take part in King of the Mountain competitions on the local hills and time trials across sections of roads. This competitive element is fantastic if you want to push yourself but can be disheartening if youֲe just starting out. Even some top professional cyclists and runners use the app which allows you to plot your times against them!
Verdict: Great for competition and tracking your personal bests. Not so great for beginners.
Compatibility: iPhone, Android and Garmin devices.
Cost: Free, though a premium version is available.
In contrast to what the name may suggest, MapMyRun is not purely for runners. Able to track data for cycling, running, hill walking and just about everything else, MMR is one of the most comprehensive workout tracker apps available. Designed to track just about every parameter you could think of, the app can also link to an ANT+ heart rate monitor for in depth vital statistics. The app seamlessly links to the MMR website and is able to track your diet, fluid intake and even the wear on your shoes. A runnersՠfavourite, the app will allow you to create courses and develop your time against your personal best. The in-run analysis feature can be set to alert you of your current time, pace, calories and much more so you can pace yourself properly throughout the run. Social network sharing allows you to boast to your friends though the competition element of Strava isnִ quite as exaggerated. The premium version will allow you a completely advert free experience and unlocks a number of other features.
Verdict: Perfect for athletes of any ilk, the app is completely user friendly and geared towards simplicity. The premium version is worth the pennies (ò.99) as the adverts can be quite annoying.
Compatibility: IOS, Android and ANT+ Bluetooth monitoring.
Cost: Free, or ò.99 for the premium version.
If youֲe a tech geek then Endomondo is ideal for you. This particular workout tracker is available in a free, pro or subscription premium version and can be used across all platforms to˴rack any outdoor activity. Sadly the free version once again comes with adverts and so to get the most out of the app the ò.99 pro version is probably the best place to start. Featuring ANT+ tracking, the app links to Bluetooth monitoring systems to track your vital statistics and features social network sharing. Allowing you to share data mid-workout, this app is definitely one for the boasters. The most important features of Endomondo I feel however are the low-power mode and auto-pause mode. The low-power feature prevents the app from sapping your (already dire) smartphone battery life which makes it ideal for long workouts. Another cool feature is the auto-pause function which automatically stops tracking after about 20 seconds of inactivity, keeping your average pace from falling should nature come calling.
Verdict: The most well thought out of all the workout tracker apps, Endomondo is probably my personal best. The user friendly app seems to build on what MMR does so well and perfect it.
Compatibility: IOS, Android, ANT+.
Cost: Free version, ò.99 pro version and ò.49 per month subscription version which features live weather information, heart rate zone information and training plans.
Couch-to-5k is the app that got even my mother running, Couch-to-5k is a completely accessible app for complete beginners. This workout tracker and planner is designed to take a complete novice off the sofa and out onto the streets. The 5k plan is based around a set of runs each week which include adequate warm ups, cool downs and walk/jog features to get you moving with the end goal of having you run 5k. Ideal for new runners or those returning after long absences, the app will track your pace, time and speed whilst offering motivational support during the run. Of course, this app is nowhere near the level of sophistication as the above, but it does what it does exceptionally well and is helping people all over the world take up the sport. If that wasnִ enough, the app is recommended by the NHS!
Verdict: Great for beginners and those who need motivational support.
Compatibility: All IOS and Android devices but no ANT+ Bluetooth monitoring.
There we have it, the PhysioRoom.com guide to outdoor training apps. Do you use any of these or have we missed your favourite out? If so, let us know via the Facebook and Twitter links below!
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