Tag Archive | MapMyRun

Two Feet and Four Wheels: Discovering SoCal

In 6 short days I will embark upon the greatest adventure of my life thus far which involves a trip down the aisle. Current emotions equal excitement, eagerness, nerves, stress, apprehension, glee, gratefulness, disbelief, joy, and happiness, among many others. The last 6 ½ years with Brad can be summed up by a quote from the eternally wise Winnie-the-Pooh.

“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.”

Fitting then that our second to last week in SoCal would involve a running adventure in our own extended backyard.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a few weeks ago Buick contacted me about participating in their summer “Runs Worth the Drive” challenge in partnership with MapMyRun.com. They would give me a beautiful Buick Verano for a week and all I would have to do is A) drive it around and B) discover new running routes not in my immediate neighborhood. This proposition was right up my alley. An invitation to adventure with a fancy new car? C’mon. Well the week unfolded and it did not disappoint. Brad and I (and our friend Neiman, too) had a truly memorable week of running.
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We started by taking on a couple of evening runs just a stone’s throw from our Venice abode. These routes are close enough to get the run in after work, but far enough that you have to drive to get there. First stop was Playa del Rey. We parked near our gym along Lincoln Blvd and ran up the hill to and through the campus of Loyola Marymount University. Do you live in Los Angeles and want to discover a new appreciation of your city? Head on up to LMU and gaze out at the view of the City of Angels. From the sea to downtown, the sprawl is rather incredible to behold all at once.
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The next evening’s run was in the same general area, but instead of running up the hills we ran out to sea! There is a fantastic bike path that runs parallel to Culver Blvd and continues out along the Marina until it spills into the ocean. This evening included crossing paths with some friendly bunny rabbits, a gorgeous rainbow sherbet sunset, and a sneak peek at some 4th of July fireworks. This was one of those evenings where you stop and realize that taking just an ever so small detour out of your daily habits can yield the loveliest surprises. That’s really what this week was all about.

The week with the Buick culminated in two challenging but memorable destination runs. On Saturday we drove down to gorgeous Laguna Beach, with friend Chris Neiman in tow, to see what Orange County would offer us. I let Brad choose the route, my role was just to drive, and the trail he picked very nearly resulted in calling off the wedding. I’ve got one word: hills. Hills! On a very warm Saturday afternoon in Laguna we began running… up a mountain. I truly had to stop and repeat to myself “this isn’t Brad’s fault, you let him decide the route, he didn’t know the terrain any better than you did.” A few repeats of that mantra, deep breaths and the wedding was back on.
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I’m being hyperbolic of course but you know the old trope of cursing your trainer’s name as he pushes you to your max. In this scenario Brad filled in for the role of trainer that I needed to take my suffering out on. Poor guy. He’s so patient. As soon as we made it to the top of the hill the grumblings completely faded away and all I could do was bask in the beauty of my surroundings. In the distance we could see the Pacific ocean with Catalina perched on the marine layer like Brigadoon, fading into the sea fog. Beauty.
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There is incentive for me to hill train. Running downhill is my bag. I stabilize my core, release some space in my hip flexors, and let my feet fly. I love being able to hit an 8:00 min pace, something I’m just not able to maintain on flat ground. Speed. Pure bliss.

Sunday was our last run of the week and our last day with the Buick. Even though my dance card was full with wedding to-dos, the entire week I’d had my sights set on a run in Ventura. The little towns just north of L.A.; Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara, are my favorite destinations for quick weekend getaways. I could actually see myself living in one of these sleepy little towns if Brad and I ever feel compelled to leave L.A. We’ll see.

We drove on up to Ventura in hopes of finding a nice route along the sea. I participated in the search this time to avoid another test of our relationship if Brad took us up another mountain. After doing some research of Ventura running routes on MapMyRun.com we found a good prospect along a path next to somewhere called Emma Wood state beach. A quick plug for MapMyRun. I must admit that since Brad got me a Garmin Forerunner for my birthday I’ve kind of left behind the world of mobile running apps. Now I’m all running watch all the way. MapMyRun.com offers some perks though that I simply love and won’t leave behind. I love being able to trace new routes ahead of time to make sure I get the right mileage in. This is especially useful for long runs where you do NOT want to find yourself at mile 12, not knowing where to turn to make sure you get to 20. Plan ahead. I also love the ability to crowdsource routes. I had no idea where to run in Ventura or Laguna, for example, but MapMyRun has a great search feature where you can see where other runners have ventured in that area, see how popular the particular route is, and again, plan ahead. For running the adventure comes in the run itself. It shouldn’t come in the form of surprises like being stranded on a dead end road 15 miles from home without cell service or water. Plan ahead.

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Pay no attention to our splits. They’re a bit slower than usual. There was much stopping, slowing, and gazing. No other way to describe it but an incredibly fun run.

Brad has once again turned out an incredible and quick video of the weekend’s Buick/MapMyRun/SoCal adventure, so I’ll let it speak for itself. And thanks to my stepdad Paul for providing some original music! I’m sensing the beginning of a new collaboration :).

I’m so grateful for this experience to have come along when it did. I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never been married and don’t really know anything about anything, but I will hazard a guess that one of the secrets to a happy marriage is a sense of adventure and open-mindedness. Habits are important too. I love coming home after work, getting a quick 3 miles in along the Santa Monica beach, curling up with two kitties, a fiancé, and Dexter followed by an episode of Star Trek and Big Cat Diary. These are routines that bring me simple joy and simple joys are so valuable. But if they aren’t peppered with the occasional urge to breakout and discover something new, they get stale. I feel it happen during training. I get bored of the same 3, 4, or 6 mile runs along the same route. This week driving to unknown runs has revitalized my love of running, and I can’t help but take that lesson into my upcoming nuptials. I’m grateful that a sense of exploration comes naturally to our relationship. It’s something that I know we’ll always need to nurture, and running in new and adventurous places may be just what we need to remind us of that simple fact.

Thank you so much to Buick and MapMyRun.com for bringing this opportunity to Running to Tahiti. They sponsored this campaign but the opinions in this post are my own and I can honestly say that Buick makes a fantastic sedan. Smooth ride, luxurious amenities, and a sleek look. I loved driving it!

Until next time…

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Runs Worth the Drive!

I read quite a few running blogs. Foremost because I like to connect with fellow runners/writers. The running community is just that, a community. Perhaps it’s because our sport is a lone one, we like to connect with each other whenever possible. Blogging does that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want to see what other people were doing right. You see I often feel like I’m doing things wrong. I read other blogs that are clearly so incredibly popular and successful and I wonder what I should be doing. I read about bloggers getting complimentary entry into runDisney races (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??) and getting sent all kinds of swag for giveaways to increase readership, cross-promote, and network with potential sponsors. I see all of these things and feel there must be some sort of golden goose I can’t find. Last year I would say that all of that worried me. This year I said to hell with it. I didn’t start a blog to worry about all of that. I started a blog to write, to muse, to run, and to keep myself accountable on this adventure to Tahiti. So that’s what I’ve re-focused on in 2014. I stopped worrying about what other people were doing right, what I was doing wrong, and shifted my thinking to doing what I love: running and writing.

And wouldn’t you know it.

Things pick up steam. I’m going to make the moral of this story short so that I can get to to the meat of today’s news, so here it is, listen up. When you stop worrying about the destination and start focusing on the journey, you’ll discover yourself. Yes, the destination IS the journey. Also, life is too short to worry about being successful according to someone else’s standards, so always do what you love and do a good job. That will be a success.

That’s what happens. Really. I stopped worrying about the result of my blog and refocused on the content and it’s now more “successful” than ever. More importantly, it brings me great joy which was always the intention. I Now here’s my news!

Buick is partnering with MapMyRun for a summer campaign called Runs Worth the Drive which encourages runners to take strides outside of their habitual running locales and drive to new terrain, in addition to promoting a healthy and active summer. A few weeks ago Buick contacted me about being a featured blogger in this campaign!

Buick has loaned me a fancy new Verano Turbo this week with which I can drive to as many new running adventures as possible. I then map my route on MapMyRun.com and share my new runs with Buick and the rest of the world via social media. You can follow along at hashtag Driven2Run. It’s a pretty car.

 

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If you’ve been reading since the beginning (thank you), you may recall that the motivation for this blog was to write about the cross-section of running and traveling. Adventure is my middle name and my favorite thing to do on an adventure is to run. When I run in a new land I breathe it in deeper, feel the earth beneath my feet, and take pictures with my eyes. A new landscape gets in to your very pores when you run through it, and that’s how I take places with me. My most vivid memories of the city of Boston come from runs along the Charles or across Boston Common. I can practically smell the Colorado countryside right now thanks to the 3 miles Brad and I ran up a mountain. I love running when I travel. So the fact that Buick targeted Running to Tahiti for this summer campaign is pure serendipity and excitement. I now have not only an excuse, but real motivation to get my running butt out into greater Los Angeles and rediscover this beautiful city with my own two feet.

We get the Buick through next weekend, so next Saturday we’ll really adventure somewhere exciting and a bit remote to prove that the run is indeed worth the drive.

With all of that said I could use your help Angelenos. Where should we run??? Southern California is at our fingertips (or running shoes) and we could really use some suggestions. Please share either in the comments or on social media your favorite running routes in Los Angeles, greater Los Angeles, and Orange and Ventura counties. Use the hashtag #Driven2Run to follow the conversation.

Thanks to Buick and MapMyRun for inviting Running to Tahiti to be a part of this challenge. Brad and I so look forward to discovering SoCal anew!

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the only review of running apps you will ever need to read

Technology has contributed to advancements in almost every field. Running is no exception. Now thanks to these little gadgets we call smartphones, we can say goodbye to the days of antiquated running watches or fitness journals and actually get some useful and comprehensive data on every run. It’s truly awesome. It’s also driving me insane.

Technology gives us infinite possibilities coupled with extreme limitations. That may sound like a contradiction but you know it’s true. I have access to more specific details and stats about my running than ever before, but having so much information available to me and in so many different forms is overwhelming and makes me very difficult to please. With so many options available to us at all times, our standards for perfection have skyrocketed through the roof. If I only had one running app to choose from, chances are I would be very satisfied with it. The best way to set someone up for disappointment is to give them lots of options.

I can’t deny that I sort of miss the days when I just ran out the door with nothing electronic on my person. Nothing but my keys tied to my shoelaces and maybe a walkman. It was freeing. Although I sometimes miss that, I can’t go back now, knowing that I can track my pace on every mile, how many calories I burned, my personal records, my exact time. I’m a prisoner to my Android and since that’s the reality, I may as well find the best running app out there. Shouldn’t be too hard right? Think again.

There are a bazillion running apps in the Google Play Store. You’d think that I would be able to find ONE that does all of the things I want it to do, especially since my requests are meager. But no! Apparently not. So first, I’ll provide a list of the not-too-much-to-ask features I’d like in my running app. Then I will go through and tell you which apps do and don’t deliver. Hopefully by the end of this article we will discover together, the best running app… in the world.

*Sidenote: I have an Android, so the following reviews are going to be of apps on that platform. I think all of the same apps exist for iPhone, but they aren’t identical, so take note*

I have 5 major criteria that I deem my “must-haves.” I will assign one “sneaker” point for every category. The app with the highest score wins. Hopefully we’ll be able to find one with 5 out of 5 sneakers. 

Rebecca’s Must-Haves:

  1. Split Tables – I really like to be able to see a simple table that shows my pace at every mile. I particularly like it when there’s a little rabbit next to my fastest mile and a little tortoise next to my slowest.
  2. Calibration – I live and run on the beach. GPS can be spotty. Sometimes the signal gets wonky while I’m running and all of a sudden my app is telling me that I ran 12 miles instead of 9 miles, and puts me at a 7:00 min. per mile pace! Admittedly I don’t mind that accident but I hardly think anyone will believe me. I would really like a running app that lets you edit or calibrate your run after it’s over so you can change the recorded distance to what you know you accomplished.
  3. Voice Feedback – Definitely want my app to talk to me. I like to hear how I’m doing every once in a while. I really want this function to be customize-able. Some days I want to know how I’m doing at every mile marker, but perhaps on other days I want to hear how I’m doing every 5 minutes. Wouldn’t hurt if the robot voice had a sexy British accent, but that’s icing on the cake.
  4. Pizzazz – In techno speak I would describe this category as interface, but to me it’s so much more than that. I like a little bit of style and inspiration integrated into the app. Some days it’s hard enough to get the sneakers on and get out the door, and it helps to have a motivational, sleek, and stylish running app to get the engines going. These apps turn your phone into a mini robot coach. I want a coach with style. May sound silly but it makes a difference to me. I’m a very aesthetic person. I want the interface to have… pizzazz.
  5. Bonus – This category is reserved for any additional or unique features that an app may have that I don’t see as vital, but are really frickin’ great.

I think those things sound not only like reasonable requests, but really great features. Why WOULDN’T you want to have all of these functions in a running app? I’m finding it darn near impossible to find that holy grail that features everything listed above. I mean seriously developers, get with the program.

The Apps:

Endomondo – This app is close to perfect, but not quite close enough.

Split Tables – 1 sneaker point. It gives you tables with a cute little rabbit and turtle for  your fastest and slowest paces, respectively.

Voice Feedback – 1/2 sneaker point. It talks to you, but unfortunately this function is not customize-able. A non-British female robot tells you your distance, average pace, and time at every mile, but can’t be adjusted to talk to you in intervals of time.

Calibration – 1/2 sneaker point. It does NOT let you calibrate or edit your workout on your phone, HOWEVER, you can log on to Endomondo.com and edit your workout from the website. Nice that that option is there, but honestly it would be much better to be able to edit right from my phone. Most of the time I’m not going to remember to take the extra step to log on to the website.

Pizzazz – 1 sneaker point. This app is definitely close to first place in this area. I love the interface. It’s styled with bright green colors. The icon is some sort of strange sprinting Android head. It’s a fun and weird word to say, Endomondo, and up until a recent update, when you started to run the non-British female robot would shout at you “Free your endorphins!” I loved that! I guess I’m in the minority with my eclectic taste however because that went bye-bye with the last update. Now she just shouts “Go!” *Snooze* But even without the freeing of my endorphins, I love the look and feel of this app.

Bonus Points – 1 sneaker point. It links to your music library, so you can play your favorite running playlists directly from the app. It tells you how much water you need to drink in order to re-hydrate. It has LOTS of other outdoor sports besides running, so this app would also be great for cyclists, rollerbladers, cross-country skiiers, windsurfers, fencers, dancers, etc. And it has a really nice website to accompany the app.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Endomondo – 4 sneakers

MapMyRun+ 

Split Tables – 1/2 sneaker. Don’t see ’em. Maybe they are on the app somewhere but in my opinion if they’re this hard to find, they don’t count. There are split tables when you log on to the MapMyRun website however, so it gets 1/2 a sneaker for that.

Calibration – 1 sneaker. You can edit your workout directly on the phone AND on the website.

Voice Feedback – 1 sneaker. You can customize the voice feedback to talk to you either by time or distance. 

Pizzazz – Full sneaker deduction. As much as this app has going for it, it’s just plain boring. The interface feels very outdated. The style is definitely lacking. I don’t feel motivated AT ALL when I use this app. This is a huge bummer because it gets points in almost all other areas.

ugh, so boring, makes me want to crawl into my bed and sleep… not run like a rockstar

Look at the design wonkiness! Terrible. And what’s with the gray? Gray is a terrible color for the computer.

Bonus –  Zero sneakers. Other cool things not on the must-haves: it’s got a very nice website with a spectacular feature. You can trace routes on their online map and see exactly how far your routes are. Hence the name, “Map My Run.” So if you’re not sure if the run you just went on is actually the 5 miles your phone told you it was, you can go on MapMyRun and trace the route and it will give you the exact accurate distance. Very cool and very useful. But you don’t need to use the app to take advantage of this. It also has a food journal on the app. Might be useful for some. I much prefer MyFitnessPal for that so I haven’t used it, but maybe you’re an all-in-one kinda person and would be glad to have your food tracking in the same place as your running app. Major downside to this app is its wonky GPS. I’m not sure what causes it, but take a look at the route it tracked on my last run. I did not, in fact, run straight out into the water, nor did I run in loop-de-loops. 0 bonus points.

the running route of a crazy person

TOTAL SCORE for MapMyRun: 2 1/2 sneakers

RunKeeper – This is probably the app you’ve all been waiting for me talk about. It is definitely the one I hear the most about. I’m not sure why, as I have some major issues with it. Let’s go through the details:

Split Tables – 1/2 sneaker. This is the biggest disappointment for this app. It is very streamlined and very sleek. Not a lot of bells and whistles, it just gives you your basic running stats in a clear and clean way. So why on earth doesn’t it show me my splits!!? This is only true for the Android FREE version. My boyfriend has the iPhone version of RunKeeper and it is his app of choice. On his platform he can see split tables right on his phone. On Android, sorry you’re out of luck. As with the other apps, however, you can see your splits on the website so it gets 1/2 sneaker for that.

Calibration – Zero sneakers. You can’t edit anything on your phone. You can edit workouts on the website but only the total time and start time. You can’t edit the distance which is the thing you’re most likely to need to edit.

Voice Feedback – 1 sneaker. Totally customize-able.

Pizzazz – 1/2 sneaker. While it’s got a very streamlined and user-friendly interface, I also happen to think it’s just plain boring. It’s not 1997 boring like the MapMyRun+ app. At least it feels like it’s entered the 21st century, but I just don’t feel motivated by this interface. Runkeeper makes one snoozer of a coach. Look at what you see when you finish a run:

What are those white bars supposed to be telling me? I can’t click on them and they don’t report any actual data. How is that helpful at all. Snoozer.

Bonus points – Zero sneakers. It has a pretty decent website with some cool features. Probably the biggest chance for a bonus sneaker would come from its sheer popularity. For whatever reason, it seems to be the most-used running app on the market so there is more opportunity to integrate with friends on the RunKeeper website. For me, however, that’s just not enough. No bonus sneakers for you, RunKeeper!

TOTAL SCORE for RunKeeper: 2 sneakers

Runstar – This is the little app that could, almost. So many great things about it but it falls just short of perfect.

Split Tables – Zero sneakers. This app doesn’t have a companion website like the other apps, other than a site that is just for promotion and information about the app, so you can’t see your splits anywhere.

The purple and blue squiggles are cute but how am I supposed to read them? Just give me split tables!

 

Calibration – 1 sneaker. You can edit your distance after a run right on your phone.

Voice Feedback – Zero sneakers. Apparently this is only available in the FULL version, not FREE.

Pizzazz – 1 sneaker. Love the design and interface of this app. It’s just fantastic! Very colorful, fun, playful, streamlined, and simple. Love it!

animated stretching runner while waiting for the gps… cute!

great simple colorful design

Bonus Points – 1 sneaker. Has a cool feature called a Power-Up song. You can select a song in your music library as your designated Power song. If you’re feeling sluggish on a run, just hit the Power-up button and it will automatically play your song AND change all the colors on your app to bright orange. Pretty cool. With that, and the above and beyond design, I give this app one bonus sneaker.

Total score for Runstar: 3 sneakers

Runtastic – 

Split tables – 1 sneaker. Got some nice split tables in this app complete WITH a cute little rabbit and snail next to your fastest and slowest paces, respectively.

Calibration – 1/2 sneaker. You can’t edit your workout on the app, unfortunately, but you can log on to Runtastic.com and edit there.

Voice Feedback – Zero sneakers. So bummed about this! Voice feedback is only available in the PRO version. Heartbreaking because this is a very important feature, but everything else about this app is great. Who knows, maybe I’ll spring for the PRO version. That’s how much I like everything else about this app. There is one upside to the voice feedback, if you do get it in the Pro version… sexy British accent!

Pizzazz – Definitely a full sneaker in this category. This app is not as playful as Runstar or Endomondo, but it’s definitely got its own style. Lots of electric blue and silhouettes of people running like rock stars. The interface is sleek, easy to use and comprehensive.

Props for the graphics. I want to run through an electric finish line!

Bonus – 1 sneaker. They’ve got a great website with lots of social opportunities to connect with friends. Also, kudos for the graphics and information you get to save when you complete a workout. You can make a note of how you felt that day, what terrain you ran on, and what the weather was like. Very cool. 1 bonus sneaker.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Runtastic – 3 1/2 sneakers. 

Nike+ RunningThis app is the biggest heartbreaker. It’s so close to perfect, it’s painful!

Split Tables – Zero sneakers. Not only are there no split tables on the app, but when I log on to view them on the website, they are completely wrong. According to my last run on Nike+, I can run a mile in 10 seconds. Rio 2016, here I come! I have no idea what kind of bug Nike has in their software that’s causing this but it’s pretty ridiculous considering what a major player they are in the world of sports.

This is the closest thing you’ll get to split tables in your summary. If you click on the mile markers it tells you your time. Though as you can see from my slowest and fastest paces, their report is hardly reliable.

Check out my fastest time. 1:29. Not bad, for an amateur.

Calibration – 1 sneaker. This app is actually how I even learned that one could edit workout details at all. When the GPS got off and said I only ran 9 miles when I knew I ran 11, what a great discovery to find that I could edit the mileage to reflect the correct distance. Well done Nike. Not sure if you’re the first company to think of this, but you’re the first place I noticed it. Props.

Voice Feedback – 1 sneaker. Everything is very customize-able. I believe this is also where I first discovered that voice feedback could be customized.

you can even choose if you want a male or female voice

Pizzazz – 1 sneaker. Great UI. It’s Nike after all. They are the kings of branding and much of that is owed to their sleek and bad-ass style. Same goes for the app. It’s not too fancy and pretentious, but it’s easy to use, and it’s got rockin’ motivational energy. There’s a lot to explore throughout the app but it’s not so much excess detail that it feels overwhelming. 

Your home page, showing some great total details

list of all workouts

They give you all kinds of cool badges when you make a personal record. As you can see, this one is quite impressive. I ran a 5k in 0 minutes and 0 seconds. I don’t even think Superman could do that. If this function worked, it would be really cool.

 

Bonus – 1 sneaker. This app has amazing bonus features. I love all of the things it can do. One thing you can do is challenge yourself. You can start a workout based on your previous distance, and the app will show you where you’re at, and how much farther you need to go to beat your last distance. You can also do time and pace challenges. 

It’s got great integration with social media. Easy ability to post to Facebook and Twitter. Also it features the same graphics in the Runtastic app where you can make note of how you felt, what terrain you ran on, and what the weather was like. When you’re done working out, a famous athlete like Lance Armstrong (though perhaps he’s not so motivational these days. I stand by you Lance!) or Paula Radcliffe will give you a little pep talk. As shown above, you get badges every time you hit a milestone like a personal record, or working out for several days in a row. One of the coolest things you can do is tag your shoe on every run. That way you can keep track of how many miles you’re putting on your shoes so you know when to get new ones. Brilliant idea from, surprise surprise, a shoe company. And on top of all that, it’s got a great companion website with lots of features to get you motivated. This app definitely earns its bonus sneaker.

TOTAL SCORE FOR Nike+ –  4 sneakers. So close!

That puts Endomondo and Nike+ at a tie. So what will be the tie-breaker? Endomondo had 1/2 point deductions in two categories, whereas Nike had a full point deduction in only one. So even though they got the same score, there is less that would need to be improved on Nike to make it perfect. If Nike could show me some split tables and give me an accurate minute per mile report, I would have no other complaints about the app. Endomondo would need to add voice feedback customization AND the ability to edit workouts from the app itself. Then again, those are both available in some capacity in the app, just not the ideal capacity. And then there’s Runtastic! If I splurged and bought the Pro version, that would give me voice feedback and put that app in the leader position for 4 1/2 sneakers.

So believe it or not, there’s no such thing as the perfect running app. Clearly, if I were an Android developer, I would know exactly what to put in a running app and I would make a million dollars. Hopefully the big kahunas at Nike or one of the other companies are reading this and making notes. 

I’ll probably just vacillate between Nike+, Endomondo, and Runtastic for awhile and see which one feels right. When it comes right down to it, you have to go with your gut. 

Thanks for reading this epic review. These are the apps I have been using for awhile, but there many more I haven’t even tried yet. Perhaps we’ll do a part 2 in the future.

Do you have a favorite running app? Is it listed here? Share in the comments below.