run data et al

I’ve been using several different “run trackers”. They are mostly smartphone apps. Start the app on your phone, place in pocket, go for run, then see analysis when you return.

Here’s what I know of the state of the run tracking app world.

Runkeeper is still king (at least in the English speaking world). I think they deserve their status due to their API. They’ve got a good eco system of other parties adding to and reading data, in an open way — all behind an oauth2 api. They call it “HealthGraph”. I was able to sign up for an API key and instantly start reading and writing data from accounts that authorised me.

Runkeeper recieves data from it’s own app if you use it, but also several other smartphone apps that weren’t written by runkeeper. Once again that’s their API allowing this. They also recieve data from devices like Fitbit, and from garmin watches and bike computers.

On my bike i have a Garmin Edge 800 – this saves my route based on GPS and also data from candence sensors (magnets on my wheel and pedal) to work out how fast i’m pedalling. It also reads heart rate data if I wear the heart rate strap.

installed cadence sensor

I couldn’t get Runkeeper to display Cadence info from my log files. For imports of data (e.g. from garmin) they only read gpx or tcx (my garmin bike computer saves into .fit files).

Another i’ve tried is Endomondo — which is pretty good tech. They read .fit files, and they display cadence data from my garmin, along with the heart rate. They have “Challenges”, which are great fun. You, or your team try to be the best at some goal, e.g. “Most km cycled”. A Team might be everyone in New Zealand. It might be by gender. The Challenge may only allow you to count activity that had heart rate data.

Unfortunately Endomondo doesn’t have an API, so you’re limited to only the features Endomondo implment. You can’t get your data out (Runkeeper allows export of your whole dataset as one zip file). If you haven’t joined up to paid membership then Endomondo has so many adverts it is nearly unusable.

Sports-tracker.com is another. I liked very much that you can see all the funcationliaty from the smartphone app: e.g. see your friends activities, and explore routes in your local area. Once again it has no API, and even ignores heartrate on imported data if you didn’t use their app to record it. Flash player is needed to see the data on the web.

Runtastic.com is yet another app. It appears to be popular in Germany. There’s also apps for recording pressups, situps, squats which make it quite run. Again no API means your data is trapped and functionality is limited. The set they have implemented is pretty good – the ui and the graphics are slick and nice. It won’t read .fit files from my Garmin (GPX and TCX only). It will record heart rate data from nearly any bluetooth heart rate monitor. I couldn’t get it to import or display cadence data.

It’s nice to take photos along the way if you’re recording a hike, or a scenic cycle ride. Runkeeper, Sportstracker and Runtastic all allow this, displaying the photo on the map afterwards. I prefer to take photos using my GoPro. this is mounted on my handlebars, and is safer than stopping to take photos on a busy road and then dropping the phone. Unfortunately only sportstracker allowsuploading photos after the activity – the others only allow photos taken with their app. Runkeepr might allow this through their API but i haven’t seen it implemented. Endomondo doesn’t support photos at all.

For statistics, Endomondo and runtastic are the best, but Runkeeper’s API allows you to use other apps, so Runkeeper win best stats.

Lastly, the social aspect. Runkeepr definitely has the most people as well as integrating with other apps that also bring in social aspect (e.g. fitocracy.com, fitbit.com). Endomondo has some social stuff going on thanks to the challenges, and you can send messages to friends while they’re running (these are played into their headphones). Runtastic is only really happening if you’re German. So if you’re motivated by friends i recommend runkeeper or endomondo.

bike

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