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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.