I tend to prefer activities that in my mind have a clear goal like reach the top of the mountain or score a point against your opponent. Running seemed like a never ending activity where the only reward was a decreased amount of guilt around eating the Klondike Bar in the freezer when I got home.
Over the years I've been trying to embrace running more since a decent pair of runners costs a whole lot less than a gym membership. Knowing myself however, I needed to have a goal if I was ever going to get out the door.
Enter smart phone apps.
If you can think of it, there is probably an app for it and running apps are all over the place. So decided to pose a little experiment on myself and tested out 6 different popular running apps. Of those six I am going to talk about my two favorite ones on here that I would recommend.
Map My Run
Map my run is a free app available for Apple and Android users. The reason I love this app is for all the tracking features. It allows you to set the type of activity you are doing from running to power walking to even push-ups. It tracks your calories burned (though I questions the accuracy of this), shows you a map of your route and even lets you follow pre-set routes that other users in your area have posted. It tracks your overall mile pace using your GPS which I found motivating to try and beat each time.
It also has a food log feature which is nice if you are trying to watch your calorie intake. The food database has a lot of user data in it which isn't accurate and it can be hard to search, but it can help with general tracking. Overall a good free app for someone that wants to monitor their progress with biking, running or walking.
A very appropriate app with Halloween approaching!
This app does cost between 4-8 dollars depending on the time of year (there is a Halloween sale on right now), but for me it was worth the cost. Unlike more serious running apps, this one pitches itself as a game rather than a workout program. Zombies run is a story based app with 'missions' to complete each time you run. Each mission is about 30-35 minutes long, but there is a 'radio mode' between runs that allows you to keep going if you are feeling motivated. It incorperates your own music playlist into the game and between songs plays little story snippets.
In the story, you are 'runner number 5' that has been dropped near the community of Abel in post apocalyptic times. Zombies roam free and your task is to run and collect items to help the community survive. As you go on, you learn more and more about the cause of the apocalypse. The story is fun to listen to and the voice acting is pretty good. As you run this British computer voice will announce when you pick up items. Anything from food to clothing. You can set the game to also have "Zombie Chases". This means at random the the voice will announce "Zombies, 100 meters." When you hear this you had better run, because they can catch up to you, which Robo-Brit is more than happy to keep you aware of. If they do catch up, you will lose the items you collected and fail the mission. I found myself quite motivated every time, especially with the added zombie noises it would add in.
I honestly at times forgot about the running, which is ideal for me because again I find running very boring. When I got home I would go and divide up my items I had collected to build up my base. The graphics of the base leave a bit to be desired but I found it made me want to run longer to get more items.
The game also works for walking, rollerblading and on a treadmill, so anyone can use it. The zombie chases do adjust to your pace so for example if you are walking you just need to speed walk to keep them at bay. They even have a version that is a 5km trainer for those that want to work up to that distance.
So if you are a fan of games, Walking Dead/Zombies or prefer your running with a little distraction, this can be a fun one to try. Just be prepared to pay for it, unlike other running apps.
Overall I would suggest MapMyRun for the more serious runner or those that like lots of data on how they are doing. Zombies, Run! lacks a lot of that information, only really providing your time and mile pace. If you have a good imagination and prefer games to focused workouts, Zombies, Run! may be more your cup of tea.
You can get these apps in your itunes/google store on your smart phone or visit the links below: