Tuesday, September 18, 2012

RunKeeper vs Strava (and other fitness tracking apps)

Over the past 4 years I’ve tried a variety of tools for tracking running and cycling performance. Primarily I’ve used a Timex Global Trainer (TrainingPeaks), Nike +, MyMyRun, RunKeeper and Strava. These days I’m moving entirely over to Strava. Below is a list of the tools I’ve used and why I’m now only using Strava.

Timex Global Trainer
About a year ago I got an iPhone 4 and discovered the delight of having everything on one piece of hardware. It’s not waterproof, but I still have an old Timex Road Trainer for swimming. So once the iPhone was firmly rooted in my life, the Timex Global Trainer dropped off the radar of sports tracking toys. Besides, I found the interface on the watch to be really difficult to use, the website kinda sucks too.

Nike +
I’ll admit that I haven’t dusted off Nike+ since the recent redesign of the website, but I did give it a go shortly after setting up my iPhone. I found both the app and the website to be a bit much to navigate. Also, it didn’t provide some of the metrics I was looking for. It’s worth mentioning that I think that Nike+ is probably the leader in this industry right now. I’m sure there are good reasons for it as it seem a lot of other people love this app. 

mapMyRun & mapMyRide
I mention these two sites only because it’s pretty easy to search for routes with specific criteria. I use them as planning tools though. Especially if I want to plan a longer trip, this is a great way to map it out and you can send it out to your friends.

This app has been my go-to app for running performance tracking for over a year now. I like its simplicity. I like that it tells me my split speed while I'm listening to music. I like that I can easily add a route and see the history of that route online. RunKeeper has been pretty good to me, but as of today, I’m ditching it. Sadly I’ll miss it.

I have to admit, I love Strava Bike. I’ve been addicted to it since I first dusted the bike off in early spring and hit the roads. I cajole my friends into installing the app and giving it a go. It’s seriously fun, like asynchronous racing. There are enough people in my area that ride to make the data compelling. But if you’re not motivated by the competitive edge that Strava brings, this is still a great app. Sometimes I use it to look for a good bike route. Strava Bike will show you where everyone else rides, so you can see what areas of the city are common with cyclists and which are not. 

Strava Run, however, was a different story. I installed it in the spring time expecting to have the wonderful experience that I had with the Bike app. However, it wasn’t that great. There are not enough runners in my area to give it that competitive user base. It also meant that there wasn’t enough data in the system to make it useful for planning routes. Even worse, it didn’t have one of my favourite features from RunKeeper – the voice that gives you your split speed mid run.

But today I’m getting back on the Strava Run bandwagon. I’m going to go segment creating crazy and load all my favourite local running routes into the app. Even if I’m the only one on them, it will be still be worth it because I’ll have all of my bike and running data on the same system. Also, recently Strava Run updated some of the metrics and I think that this will make the app more compelling. Yes, I’ve lost RunKeeper’s motivational voice telling me my split speed, but sometimes less is more. (And if the developers from from Strava reads this – add Audio metrics please!)



  1. I'm not sure if you've figured it out yet, but Strava Run definitely has split readouts.

    Settings>Display & Audio>Audio Updates - from there you have the choice of every half unit, unit or off.

  2. I Know!! At the time that this article was written Strava did not have an Audio component. However, the app has since been updated and it appears the feature set it still in development. The audio was added in 3.1.1 December 2012. Details: https://strava.zendesk.com/entries/21880642-add-mile-alerts-to-strava-run-added

    I personally would like the audio on Strava Bike too. :)