Friday, July 6, 2012

Running Apps Part 2: Endomondo and RunKeepers

This is the second in a three part series and, as stated in the preview, last week we covered Map My Fitness and Runtastic and next week we cover Strava.  So sit back with your favorite coffee, tea and danish and enjoy this weeks review of Endomondo and RunKeeper.

There is a lot to like about Endomondo.  They have structured both their app as well as there site to focus more on the social and challenge aspect of running.  There is a lot of content on their site (almost too much) including the random challenge (like how many miles can you run in a month).  Also, there is a lot of ways to analyze your running, cycling or other activities.

The app is pretty easy to use and I like that it isn’t cluttered.  While the audio cues are really good, they only are available in one mile increments and this cannot be adjusted.  To turn this off, it appears you have to upgrade to the Premium Sport Tracker Pro.  The premium level allows you to create customizable time and distance intervals, graph, low power mode, a “beat-your-self” mode, etc.  That said, many of these features are available for free in the Runkeeper app as well as Strava.

I do like the level of analysis though you get as part of the basic program.  You can compare your activities against your personal best as well as keep track of any improvement. Also, many of the pacing information missing on the app you will find on the site.

Basically though, there is nothing here to really have me change to using this app since I would still need the other tracking sites to do the level of analysis that I currently do as well as there being no incentive to pick the premium level.


So I love the RunKeeper App, when it works.  There is so much potential here – the perfect running cues, the ability to set up your intervals, wonderful tools on the site, the ability to race with other RunKeeper members at events.  You can even choose audio cues based on either time or distance. 
However, it amazes me that after months of issues with their GPS tracking in the app, they have not been able to fix what so many other apps do.  So let me elaborate.  So as I have said before, I use my HTC Sensation when running and download my apps from Android market.  Typically what happens is that for the first week or so the app works like a gem doing what it is supposed to do.  Then I get that one run in that it is telling me I am doing pretty good, a 7 minute mile.  Problem is that I am a 8:30 runner.  Then all of  a sudden I am running like I am Meb, doing a sub-5 minute mile!!  Then I am faster than a cheetah, doing a 2 minute mile!!!  

The problem here is the GPS tracking.  For example, my typical 5 mile run (based on my GPS watch and most other apps) on the Embarcadero ends up being a 7 mile run on RunKeeper.  Looking at the map that is created, you can see squiggly lines, which I am assuming are every step I make, which it is factoring in the mileage calculation.  Since the time run is a constant, the division by the mileage makes you feel like Speedy Gonzalez.
This problem is well known and there is even a discussion thread on the RunKeeper site about it.  The tech solution stated on the website is to delete then reinstall every time you have the problem.  To me, this is not a satisfying solution.  What I am finding as the real solution is to really limit what you are asking the app to do which means either run the audio cue every 5 minutes OR every half mile (minimum).  This for me seems to make the app work correctly. 

That said, I really want this app to work, with all of the capabilities!!! There is so much potential here it is a shame that so many people are having problems with this app with very little support on how to fix the problem.


  1. Thank you. So the audio feedback is the problem? If we deactivate it or set it every kilometer is it ok?

    1. It is less the audio and more the frequency. So you will want to either pick the distance or the time, not both. I wanted to get as much updates as I could and I confused the calculating. So if you set it every kilometer it should work fine.


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