Being equal parts fitness freak and tech geek, I’m always looking for new apps that can help me train, track and improve my performance whether I’m running, cycling or swimming. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite fitness apps.
Nike+ Running App & Nike+ Website
I love this app not just because I use a Nike sportwatch GPS on my runs and can sync the app with the Nike+ website, but because the app has a lot of great features. Of course, syncing with the Nike products is a no-brainer. While I’ve read some reviews of folks having problems with the Nike App, it’s worked for me. Likewise, I’ve found the GPS to be accurate. I generally use my SportWatch and upload my runs, but if for some reason I forgot my GPS, the app is my backup. I also use it to track my runs if I’m running on a treadmill.
From the Nike+ website, one of my favorite features is the “heat map” where I can look at a location and see where the running action is. So I can either go to the Places area or pull up one of my runs on the map and the heat map will give a graphical representation of where people are running mostly with Nike accessories.
On the image below, you can see a run in New Orleans. Note the heat map imagery along St. Charles and Magazine streets and the heavy traffic around Audobon Park. Makes me want to get back out there and run some more!
Strava is one of the coolest fitness apps out there for tracking runs and bicycle rides. Strava ought to get high marks for the aesthetics alone! This app is easy to use, intuitive and it’s simply beautiful in design.
The interface is a study in user friendliness and I’ve got to give kudos to the designers. They got it right.
Immediately see how strong the GPS signal is, click the start button in the middle of the screen and start riding. STRAVA will track distance, speed, elevation, time and will calculate power. The premium version (which I don’t currently use, but I’m sure I’ll be upgrading as soon as I get that coveted power meter for my bike!) will link to accessories and give even more statistical data, however what you get with the free app is pretty strong as it is.
The STRAVA website is full of even more features than the app and you can follow other athletes, including the pros, and see their workouts.
But my absolute favorite features are the segments and the leaderboards. Segments are stretches of road that have been defined by users (you can make your own). As other riders ride on the segments, their results are compiled on the leaderboard so you can see how you stack up against others who ride near you. If you’re even remotely competitive, which most of the cyclists I know are, you will absolutely LOVE this feature.
And while there are other apps out there that have similar features and functionality, STRAVA has everyone else beat (imho) with their design and functionality. It’s just a pretty app to look at. Take a lesson from Apple… design matters!
Also, note that STRAVA has a running app that is essentially the same thing. It gives Nike+ a real run for the money, but for me, I have a lot of historical info on the Nike platform and I really like the features there, so I’m sticking with Nike. But even so, I’ve been known to track some runs on STRAVA to see where I stack up on their leaderboard!
Speedo’s Pace Clup App & Website
I’ve been using the PaceClub app since shortly after it was released. When I ran across it, it was the only one of it’s kind. It may still be for all I know! Speedo has continued to improve on it and now it’s loaded with workouts that target all different fitness levels as well as specific goals like triathlon training or stroke improvement.
In addition to the workout routines, the app also integrates video clips that I’ve found are really helpful, especially for some of the drills that I’m not that familiar with.
If you choose to start one of the training programs, you can log your swims and the app will keep track of your progress and also keep up with others who are swimming the same routines. You can track pool locations and potentially find places to swim when you’re on the road.
When preparing for a workout, I usually don’t want my phone in the water with me, so I’ll go to the website and print out my workout and have that poolside, then check off on my phone that I completed my workout.
Pace Calculator by Runner’s Ally
This handy app is one that I use regularly to calibrate my training runs. The app allows you to enter a race distance and target time to complete the race and then gives you the corresponding pace per mile, mph and some other data.
But what I find is the most helpful parts of this are the race time predictors and the training targets. So, for example, if I wanted to run a 4 hour marathon, I plug in that time and distance and then I get target training pacing for easy runs, tempo runs, VO2 Max runs, speedwork, long runs and Yasso 800s.
Taking advantage of the training data I can target what I’d like to run and see where my training needs to be for different types of runs and then have a look at different race paces and see what’s realistic for my training. This is one of the handiest running “reference apps” that I’ve found!
My Fitness Pal
Weight and nutrition have a direct correlation with running performance. This app is basically a calorie counter that compares what you take in vs. what you burn. So you can input all the food you eat as well as the exercise you do and see whether your consuming more or less calories than you burn.
The library of foods that are already in the app is substantial. I generally can find whatever I’m eating. If not, I can create my own food inputs. Same goes with exercise. This app will let you enter your workouts and tally up corresponding calories burned. Again, you can input your own workouts.
For example, I often use a heart rate monitor which will tell me exactly how many calories I burned during a workout and I can then enter it with the exact calorie count in the daily diary. One of my favorite features of this app is the bar code scanner, so if I’m eating anything packaged, I can scan the bar code, enter in the portions or servings, and bam! it counts the calories. There are a lot of calorie counters available and I’ve tried a few. This one is my favorite.
Is there anyone out there that hasn’t heard of Pandora?
I absolutely love the flexibility of tailoring a station to what I’m in the mood for when I’m going on a run. Also, they’ve added new workout stations to the library so this gives me some exposure to music that’s new to me while I’m exercising.
I’m not going to weigh in on the debate about running with music. Depending on what I’m trying to accomplish, sometimes I run with music, sometimes I don’t. But when I do, I get burned out on the same old playlists on my iPod and Pandora regularly introduces me to music that I haven’t heard before!
Honorable Mention: Gmap-Pedometer.com