Like most women, I’m on a perpetual search for ways to stay in shape. Sitting at a desk all day and doing everything in your power to avoid the box of donuts in the breakroom can certainly be mentally exhausting, but in the end we all need to find something that keeps us physically active – and the walk to and from the train doesn’t exactly cut it.
My exercise of choice over the last few years has been running – mostly so I can eat the pints of Graeter’s ice cream lined up inside my freezer door – but also because I can do it almost anywhere, it doesn’t require an expensive membership fee and I truly do feel a sense of freedom and calm when it’s just me and the pavement. I have even dabbled in some long-distance races, and last winter (in a moment of weakness) I reluctantly agreed to run a Marathon with one of my friends. And so the training began. As anyone that has ever run a marathon knows, some of the training runs can last for 3-4 hours and it’s very easy to lose track of your pace per mile, how far you’ve actually run and most importantly, how much farther you still have to go. Being able to track my progress turned the run into a journey with an end and allowed me to set specific goals in regard to pace and distance. Since I’m always on the lookout for “an app for that”, the week before our training runs commenced I decided to check the App Store for something that could potentially help with all of this.
I tried a couple of different options, but the app that ultimately won a place on my homescreen is called Endomondo.
How We Use It
Endomondo is a sports/fitness tracker that uses your phone’s built-in GPS to track a workout in any number of activities. Options range from the most common activities like running and biking – to things like skiing, tennis and orienteering (super common, I’m sure). But you get the idea – lots of variety here. There is a “Free” version and a “Pro” version ($4) of the app – the latter gives you a few more advanced features but I opted for the Free version and it met all of my needs.
Another unique aspect of Endomondo is the social dimension of the app. I haven’t used the social features extensively, but my Mom shares her workouts with me (most likely completely unintentionally). I guess it’s a nice option to have if you’re into that sort of thing and want to brag about your latest Saturday morning training session and make your friends feel bad as they check Facebook in between bites of their overindulgent brunch. In return, your friends can follow your workout live and if they think you’re in need of a little extra motivation they can send you pep-talks that are read aloud to you in real time. I’ve made a note to harass my Mom with this in the very near future.
I ended up using the app on race day and it performed exceptionally well – even in rural Wisconsin where there was little to no cell service and a weak GPS signal. For all of you runners out there that are training for the Chicago Marathon (or any other Fall race!) I highly recommend checking out this app and seeing if it fits your needs. Whether you have specific goals in mind, or simply want a fun way to track your route and see how many calories you’ve burned (and thus how much ice cream you can eat later in the day), Endomondo has you covered.
Why We Love It
- Tracks overall workout duration, distance and calories (there is also an option to pair the app with a bluetooth heart rate monitor). I measured mileage and calories against a more expensive heart rate monitor that I own and it was remarkably accurate.
- The GPS worked even when the signal was “moderate” and even when I didn’t have a cell signal.
- Offers a wide variety of options for Workout Plans in almost every activity/sport imaginable – from tracking a basic run (think “Quick Start” on a treadmill or elliptical) to setting very specific, detailed goals.
- Helps you stick to a workout routine if you need something/someone to keep you motivated and accountable, and is a free alternative to a real-life personal trainer.
- You can create a route on the desktop website (www.endomondo.com) which will show up on your phone and the app will then direct you along that route. This is especially helpful when trying to map out an 18 mile run in a dense city environment.
- View a map of your workout once you finish (you can view this from the website and on your phone). Below is the map of a training run I did in Central Park while on a trip to NYC. Pretty cool!
- The app “talks” to you and continually updates you on your progress throughout your training session. Since I preferred to keep my phone in my pocket during our runs, this prevented me from having to take my phone out and manually check my stats. The Endomondo lady (think creepy feminine robot voice) tells you how many miles you’ve run in xxx amount of time, and your pace for each individual mile. My running buddy and I wanted to complete our Marathon in under four hours so it was imperative that we track our pace closely. If you’re listening to music, the app will quickly update you on your stats and then your music will fade back in.
- For Android users, the post-workout map will be marked with the song you were listening to during any given mile. Very neat, and a feature I hope the iPhone version gets at some point.
- Tracks your split times (pace for each individual mile). This is helpful for longer distance workouts where you may want to see where you hit your stride, where you start to fade and the effect that water breaks/energy gel breaks have on your performance.
- Has an added “social” element (what app doesn’t these days!) that allows you to challenge a friend and share your workouts with others on the Endomondo desktop site, Twitter or Facebook.
- Provides you with a wealth of data to measure your progress and set goals to improve in specific areas (for ex. distance, duration, avg. speed, max speed, calories, altitude).
- Saves a history of all of your workouts so you can track your progress over time.
- And best of all – it has an EXTREMELY straightforward and friendly user interface!