Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Favourite Apps - #4 - Runmeter

One of the things I really like about having a smartphone is that it can do in one device what you used to need lots of devices to achieve. A few years ago I carried round with me a phone for making calls and texts, a Palm Pilot for doing email and surfing the internet, an iPod for listening to music and a satnav - now I can do all that with one device, and in reality it does a better job of each of those functions than the original devices (anyone fancy going back to a phone keyboard for writing texts?), as well as performing a host of other functions none of those devices could have performed.

Runmeter is another example of that sort of functionality, allowing your phone to do what you'd have once needed an expensive GPS watch to achieve, and then giving you a load of functionality the watch could never have had.

At the simplest runmeter uses the GPS function built into the phone to map your runs, cycle rides, walks, skiing, boating or whatever outdoor activity you happen to be taking part in. Here's the map of me running the Reading Half Marathon earlier this year. It may just look like a map to you but every pixel on it represents a major achievement to me!

If you've got headphones as well as playing music (or podcasts or Bible readings) it will interrupt you at regular intervals to tell you how far you've gone, your current pace, your average pace, whether you going slower or faster than last time you did this run and a host of other options which you can turn on and off. You can also choose from a load of different voices (although no comedy ones as far as I can see).

Beyond that it has a bewildering array of additional functions. It can tweet and update Facebook at fixed intervals to let people know how you're doing, it can email you a map of your route and all your split times when you finish, it can read tweets to you as you're running so that people can (hopefully) encourage you, it can chart your heart rate and tell you what it is if you have a heart rate monitor, it can give you training plans to run a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon and put the plan into your online diary and much more - all for the cost of a Latte! Tell me that isn't amazing.

For those who can't stand running there are also versions for cycling and walking, although from what I can see they're basically all the same app with a different icon!

The apostle Paul wrote that "physical training is of some value". If you want to increase the value of that physical training then I reckon apps like this can help, or at least make it more interesting along the way :)

I promise a non sport related app next!



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