App Review: MapMyRun iPhone App

If I haven’t mentioned it before, it’s worth noting that I like gadgets.  I especially like gadgets that involve running.

I’ve always used MapMyRun (MMR) to map out my runs either before or after I hit the pavement.  I’m numbers-oriented and really like to track my distance.  In addition to tracking distance, MMR  provides you with your pace based on your distance and your time.  You can track your heart rate per session, gear usage (time to replace those shoes!) and your workouts don’t have to involve running in order to be recorded.  This is really just a snapshot of what the site can do.  If you haven’t visited, check it out!

The site is free to join and you know what that means: adverstisements. Everytime I logged into the site an ad would appear,  prompting me to take MMR with me (ie. use it on your smartphone).  I would think “Who could possibly need that?” and bypass the ad.

It turns out, I needed that.  Okay, I didn’t need it.  But once I got my new iPhone and installed the app, I realized how much fun I had been missing.  It’s AWESOME.  The app uses your phone’s GPS to record your run in real time.  That’s nothing new and not a big deal for Garmin owners.  I, however, am a lowly Polar HR owner and so this is a huge deal for me.  The app displays your current pace and has optional voice prompts that tell you your time/distance/pace/any combination thereof at user-specified intervals.  The MMR app also has a feature that allows for recording your heart rate.  That would essentially turn your phone into the equivalent of a  Garmin HR/GPS, plus, well, it’s a phone (such an understatement for the iPhone 4) so it has more functionality than a Garmin.  To use this HR feature you do need to purchase a wireless chip (Ant+) that will receive the feedback from your transmitter.  To cap things off, the app also has social media settings so you can post your runs (complete with maps) to Facebook or Twitter.

Cons:

– Carrying your phone.  Let’s be frank.  The iPhone 4 is heavy.  It’s not a brick but the heft is noticeable and it can bounce around if it’s in a pocket.  Where are you going to carry it?  You need to have a pocket (put it in a ziploc bag to keep moisture/sweat out) or some kind of belt/arm strap that you can pop it into. Don’t drop your phone.  That would be bad.  If you’re used to carrying a phone when you run, this may not be a con for you.

– This app chews through the battery.  I think I had determined at one point that if I had everything else turned off I could use this app for 2 hours max and then my phone would be dead.

– Preliminary investigations show that the Ant+ Heart Rate feature may not be compatible with a Polar transmitter.  Since Polar is the most widely used HR monitor on the market, that’s surprising and possibly a drawback.

Pros:

– If you are like me and feel a need to know how far you’ll be running before you start out, you’ll save time because you won’t be plotting out your run distances before/after your runs.  In that regard, I can return to losing myself and not thinking about street names or where to turn as I’m moseying along.

– You’ve got real time distance right in the palm of your hand.  I’ve come home from a number of runs thinking I achieved a certain distance only to find out that I missed and was short by 0.5 km.  (Frustrating!)  Knowing my exact distance holds a lot of value to me.

Check out the app here!

Check out the Map My Run website here!

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