Best Running App Challenge: Run 6 – Runkeeper

I’m six runs and three apps into my best Running App Challenge. This week, I’m taking a look at RunKeeper. (Check out my opinions on the other apps so far – Workout App and Nike Run Club)

Runkeeper is actually one of my oldest used running apps. When I first started trying to run to get fit 7 years ago, I used Runkeeper. It was a great app on the iPhone. It was easy to use. I had it all set up to get audio cues, keep my distances, and more.

When the Apple Watch came out, I was super excited for the Runkeeper app. When it came out though, I grew very frustrated with it. I’m not sure that it was the fault of the developers, but probably more the limitations of the original Apple Watch, but the Watch App stunk.

I can’t remember a single run that I tried to track with Runkeeper where the app didn’t crash and lose all my data.

I stuck with Runkeeper for a while though. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. They continued to push out updates to the Watch App, but it just never really did what I needed it to do reliably. I was frightened to use it after I had been burned so many times.

I gave up on it. I moved on to the Workout App for a while and then Strava.

So I’m happy to report that the app doesn’t crash anymore. It seems to be a great app now. I’m not sure if it will fit everyone’s needs, but I feel comfortable saying that it won’t crash when running.

Setting Up RunKeeper

Like the Nike Run Club, you have to start the app on your iPhone before you start a run on the Watch. I guess I get that you need to get the permissions out of the way, but I really wish they would onboard some of these startup things to the Watch itself. Let me start up and run and then let it sync everything over later.

Runkeeper App icon

Still, the first time you boot up the app on the watch, it will ask you to open the app on your phone. When you do this, the phone app will jump to a screen asking if you want to set up your Watch App and walk you through the steps.

Then you’re ready to run.

Starting a Run

Runkeeper Start Screen
The Start screen

When you start up the Runkeeper Watch app, you’ll be greeted by screen that has a play button, the words “tap to start” and what looks like a cell signal indicator. This indicator is the strength of the GPS signal in your current location. This comes in handy when you want to know if your tracking is going to be solid or if you’re in a spotty area.

Runkeeper Settings
Runkeeper Settings

If you swipe to the card on the left you will get to the settings. Similarly to the Nike app, you can tweak some things here. You can tell the app what type of activity you’re currently about to partake in – running, walking, biking, or other. You can have it show you your current pace or an average pace. You can turn on a countdown, so it counts you off when you start the run, and you can set a workout.

While you can’t create a workout on the watch, you can on the phone app. You can also purchase workouts. This is where you would select them if you are using just your watch.

If you swipe to the right of the start screen you’ll get a history of all your runs with the app. You can select one and drill down into it to see your stats for that run.

To start a run, all you have to do is push “tap to start.”

Running with Runkeeper

I wasn’t thrilled with running with the app. Honestly, without having to set anything up, the interface on this is better than the standard interface on Nike Run Club.

Runkeeper interface
Running interface on Runkeeper

On the Runkeeper standard interface, you get lots of information – distance, pace, time, heart rate. If you swipe to the screen to the left you will have a pause and end run option. If you swipe the other way you get a larger screen for your heart rate. Swipe to the next screen to get your splits.

Running, I kept it on the standard screen since it gave me all the information there. I couldn’t imagine running and trying to swipe through the other screens to get the information there. I’m sure more dedicated runners like the information, but it didn’t make sense to me.

I did like knowing all the data on the one screen though.

But I didn’t like not getting any notifications during my run. I’m not sure if it was because my watch was in silenced mode or not, but I didn’t get any kind of notification when I ran. I remember running with my phone and setting up notifications at different times and miles. I also customized the what notifications came through like split time and distance.

I couldn’t find anything on the watch.

Now, I’ve only run once so far with Runkeeper. I plan on running again with it and making sure that my audio is going, but when I used the other apps it wasn’t an issue. I had headphones connect through Bluetooth and I had a podcast going so I know the watch was able to play sounds.

That part was a disappointment.

Post Run

Post run was almost the same as the Nike Run Club app. You have to wait for your phone to sync with the watch to get your data. You need to wait for all of the data to sync before you can really do anything with it.

Post run on Runkeeper for iPhone
Post Run on Runkeeper for iPhone

Once it’s there, you get a map, your time, min/mile and calorie burn. There’s charts that help you see how you did. You can track your shoe usage like Nike.

Sharing is super easy. There’s a big share button on the top of the screen. It brings up options to put the map, a picture, or a design and your stats on the picture you share. Your sharing options are whatever is in the share sheet on your phone.

Overall thoughts

I’ve only taken one run with Runkeeper. I didn’t have enough time to fit in another run to make sure i wasn’t missing something, so I’ll have to wait until next week to test everything.

After my first run though, I wasn’t a fan of the app. I really didn’t like that there were no notifications the way it was set up this run. The display is nice, but you can get the same information in the other two apps I tried. Sharing is easy though.

But like I said, I might have been missing something. I’m eager to try it again, and I’ll update this post after I do if I have anything new to report.

Make sure you stay tuned next week for more information and the next app on the list – Strava.

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