Experimentation with Running/Exercise Apps

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I’ve begun experimenting with a few exercise apps since I realized that my iPhone could be used for real stuff, not just weather and entertainment (not that weather isn’t very important since it changes in Texas like you wouldn’t believe!). I downloaded Runmeter to my phone and gave it a test last Friday afternoon since I’d skipped exercising the dogs before work. To be honest I completely forgot to put my iPhone in my special dog walking-fishing vest for my surprisingly intense, short run with Perdy, so I took Suzu and Patience on a different route than Miki and Akane for the lower impact walks. My main goal was to measure the distance of each route since I also utilize my Polar F7 to monitor heart rate and calorie count and a Humana pedometer. I thought each route was about 3/4 mile and that the longer route I used for walks was about 2 miles.

To my shock Runmeter clocked the shorter route I use for my small dogs at just around 1 mile. The short route I use for the two big dogs was marked as 1 1/2 miles. I was just stunned.

The next morning I took the three smaller dogs on their weekly “long walk,” and I studiously placed my iPhone in my breast pocket and turned on the app. After my geriatric pooches happily meandered the entire route, my phone cheerily informed me that we’d gone 2.33 miles. Again I couldn’t understand how my calculations had been so far off, but I figured that I hadn’t actually measured the distance in any meaningful way, so I was finally getting a more accurate read.

My real test was to use Runmeter when I took Patience on her run on Sunday since I know how far I run on the track and have used Google maps to calculate the distance from my house to the school. Based on my measurements the total run was 5.3 miles. However, according to Runmeter Patience and I clocked in a whopping 6.69 miles! I just don’t know.

This morning I decided to switch apps and try the Nike + app included on my iPod Nano. Using Google maps I thought our run was about 4 1/2 miles. For some reason I didn’t get the verbal updates promised by the app, but I assume I didn’t set it up properly. I was happy to not have my music interrupted by distance markers anyway. Other than having to get around another dog walker and avoid being hit by cars leaving the Starbucks in the retail center along my run route all seemed pretty uneventful, and the comfortable burn in my leg muscles supported my belief that it was an under 5 mile run. My iPod called Patience and my run 5.14 miles , however, when I finally figured out how to turn the tracking off as I stood frustrated in my front yard. Again the distance traveled was much higher than my calculations.

Both apps can’t be completely off base. Google maps was a good tool for measuring route distance, but I’m realizing that it only measured the roads, not things like crossing through the middle school parking lot to the track or crossing streets. It also didn’t take changes in the sidewalks routes in account (many in my area don’t follow the road exactly, so they are slightly longer due to weaving around gardens, etc.).

All in all I’m just happy that the dogs and I continue to be out for regular exercise. The apps are another good tool, but my goal is really better physical health and strength, not being able to run a marathon (we’d be there all day anyway at my pace!).


About jlscaife

30 something year old animal rescuer, aspiring writer, and all around geek
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