RunKeeper vs Nike+: Running App Smackdown

I’m a geek. If I didn’t have some way to track my running and see progress to give me some incentive, I probably wouldn’t be running. (And I still don’t run as often as I should, but I’m working on it.) When I discovered Nike+, I was sold. I get to run, listen to music and track my runs all at once. I’ve never been a fan of their Flash-driven interface, though, and I had frequent login problems. The screensaver and little Mini avatar crapped out a lot, too.

This summer, some running friends told me about RunKeeper. I used Nike+ on my iPod, so I didn’t have GPS. RunKeeper, meanwhile, has apps for both Android and iOS, and my Android phone does GPS beautifully. But I still had my little Nike+ gizmo in my shoe, so I kept plugging away until those shoes finally crapped out.

That’s when the good folks at Running Central set me up with a pair of Mizuno shoes. I didn’t want to mess with some little pouch to attach to my shoe for the Nike+ sensor, so I gave RunKeeper a shot.

After just one run, I gave up on Nike+ forever. Sure, it has coaching options and a social networking side just like Nike+, but it blows Nike out of the water in several areas.

First of all, RunKeeper has a much cleaner interface. No Flash garbage to slow things down, and the moment you log in you see all of your recent runs. You get a lot more flexible access to the data, and with GPS, you even get a cool interactive map that will even let you see your running data at any point along your route.

Second, the app just runs. The Nike+ iOS app has given me fits, and at times has just locked up completely when I tried to turn it off. I also have to sync through iTunes for my runs to appear on Nike+, where RunKeeper shoots it right up to the RunKeeper server.

Third, while RunKeeper gives me similar audio feedback to Nike+, RunKeeper also sends me an email if I’ve set a personal record or had a better run during a given week. It’s a small thing, but it’s a cool extra little encouragement.

Finally, RunKeeper is lot more flexible with its activities. I may not ever use it to bike or swim, but apparently it will work just fine for those activities.

I’ve only used it a few times now, but I love it. I always carry my phone and iPod while I run anyway, so now the phone has a function instead of just bouncing along in my pocket in case of emergencies. Now I still have my iPod for music, or I can choose to abandon it altogether if I don’t feel like tunes for that day (for example, I’d rather not have earbuds in on a busy road).

If you run at all or are considering taking it up, definitely check out RunKeeper. I’m using the free version and am having no problems with it.

And with that, I’ll leave you with the music that got me through the last leg of my run this morning.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.


  1. nathan says:

    i used nike+ for almost 2 years and was the same way. loved it, but had several gripes with it i didnt even realize. i realized them as soon as i started using runkeeper. i’ve been using it for about a month now and i doubt i will ever go back to nike+. i’m curious to see if any of the pay features are worth it as i only use the free version so far too. like you, i am a numbers nerd and being able to see reports and track data is the biggest thing that motivates me to go out and do that next run. here’s hoping that runkeeper can keep the nerd in me going.

    • Mike says:

      I haven’t jumped into the pay version, either. I can see where some of the features could be cool if I start entering races or doing more with my runs, but for now I’m content with a distance record and simple tracking. If you pay for the upgrades, please do come back and let me know what you think.

      • nathan says:

        i definitely will. i’ve started doing 5ks and hopefully can progress to 10ks by end of next year so i think the elite tracking bonuses may be advantageous. if and when i get to that point, i will give you an update. also, i just bought a droid bionic and the runkeeper app works fantastically with it. i tried it last nite on just a short 1 mile run and was very happy with its functionality

        • Mike says:

          Very cool, man. Good luck. I’m hoping to do a 5K next year.

          • nathan says:

            awesome! good luck with your training and hopeful completion of a 5k. i sent you an invite on runkeeper to join my street team. that is one thing that i do miss about nike+ is the challenges vs. street team. the nike+ challenges were very motivational and fun to participate in. the street team seems pretty lacking in that regard

  2. Patricia stockton says:

    I had map my run and a Nike app but since discovering Runkeeper I have not looked back, I love it and has inspired me all over again

  3. Hali says:

    I found run keeper a few months back and haven’t used nike plus since either!!

  4. Hali says:

    Ps- don’t you love those little emails tellin you that you achieved something new!

  5. […] would let features that they are never going to use influence their decision to buy a product, as this guy does when he states the following as one of the major reasons for preferring RunKeeper over […]