I’m a data nerd, and I like to be able to look at data from my runs. At some point, I plan on writing up more thorough reviews of various running apps.
But in the meantime, I wanted to take a few minutes to share the apps that I use.
Apps I’ve Used in the Past
I’ve been running on and off for the last 15 years. When I was in high school and college, I didn’t have a smartphone. In fact no one had a smart phone. So tracking my runs meant using a basic wrist watch, estimating distances from maps or car odometers, and writing things down.
But, eventually, technology advanced. At some point, I started using Endomondo to track my runs. I don’t remember how I settled on that choice, but it was my go to app for years. Even though the website is clunky, I stuck with it because I liked having all of my data in one place.
Last year, I got a Fitbit. I wasn’t running at the time, but I found it useful for tracking my general activity and steps. And when I started running again this year, I tried linking my Fitbit with Endomondo. That’s when the trouble started.
The two services were supposed to sync up, but it didn’t always work. The Endomondo website and app were unreliable, and sometimes I couldn’t connect to them. I also found that the Fitbit wasn’t always accurately tracking distance while I ran, and this annoyed me.
So, by June, I figured out it was time for something new.
Apps I Currently Use to Track My Running
In June, I decided to replace my Fitbit with a Garmin. More specifically, I bought a Garmin 245.
I love it. The watch accurately tracks my distance and pace, and the optical heart rate monitor is pretty accurate. I find Garmin’s sleep tracking a little less accurate than Fitbit’s, but that was never my main reason for wearing it, anyway.
Once I joined the Garmin universe, this also gave me access to Garmin Connect. This is the website Garmin uses to collect and track your data. You can view my Garmin Connect profile here.
I really like it. Combined with the functionality of the watch, it’s great. It’s got all the usual graphs to show heart rate and pace throughout a run.
But one of the cool features is setting up a workout on your watch. For example, this morning I did a 5x320m speed workout. It not only tracked everything for me, but it clearly identifies the running efforts and distinguishes them from recoveries, my warm up, and my cool down.
I also sync my Garmin profile to Strava. I was looking into Strava originally as a replacement for Endomondo. It had a lot of cool features, like segments. But shortly after I signed up, most of the great features of Strava got moved behind a paywall. I’m not interested in paying for a subscription just for those features, and Garmin does everything I need. To two services sync up effortlessly, so I still let my data sync to Strava, but I don’t really use it much.
The third and final app that I use is Smashrun. It’s another app that seamlessly syncs up with Garmin, so I don’t need to do anything extra to use it. What I really like about Smashrun is that it collects all of my data and visualizes it well. It helps give me a good snapshot of how much I’ve run and progressed over the course of the year.
One thing I don’t like about Smashrun is that it won’t track your best effort within a run. So, for example, it will tell you what your best 5k effort has been. But it will only consider runs that were exactly (or close to) 5k. If you run a warm up, followed by a 5k, followed by a cool down, it will consider that a 5 or 6 mile run instead of a 5k.
Both Strava and Garmin Connect will look at the best effort of a distance within a run to identify your PR. Just a little pet peeve about Smashrun.
Finally, I also have a basic spreadsheet where I track some of this data the old fashioned way. I have historical distance data going back to 2014, and this let’s me track my mileage and compare it against past years. I also use the spreadsheet to plan out my running weeks and months at a time, and this is a way to mark off what I’ve done.
It’s a really important part of how I’ve made running a habit.
What Apps Do You Use?
I’m happy with Garmin Connect, and it’s a really nice complement to my watch.
I’m curious – what apps do you use? Leave a comment below.
At some point in the near future, I plan to test out a few different apps and review them, so any suggestions for other services to check out would be appreciated.