Your favorite fitness apps: 'RunKeeper,' 'Running Mate 5K101' and 'MapMyWalk'

bcain@newsobserver.comMarch 17, 2014 

Two weeks ago we told you about a reader who used the “Zombies, Run!” app ($1.99) to get into shape to run 5K races; last week, we relayed the praise for “MyFitnessPal” (free), which tracks food intake and exercise to help with weight loss (see newsobserver.com/fitness). This week, we look at the recommendations we got from runners and walkers.

• Laura Levine of Raleigh used “Running Mate 5K101” – similar to the “Zombies, Run!” app we wrote about a couple weeks ago – to train herself to become a runner.

The “5K101” couch-to-5K program requires a commitment of three 30-minute sessions per week for eight weeks. The workouts alternate between running and walking, and Levine said by the end of the training program, you’re running for the whole 30 minutes nonstop.

“I thought this was going to be impossible, and some days were more difficult than others,” she wrote. “But by the end, not only had I met my goal, but I had turned running from a hatred into a habit! To this day, I still run several times a week, anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. I have even been able to surpass the 5-mile mark!”

Levine said program focuses on the time you spend running or walking, not your speed, so the user can progress at their own pace. “Running Mate” also has “10K101” and “Fastest 5K” apps for runners who are a little more advanced.

The apps are available for iPhone ($2.99) and Android ($4.99). (You can download a free “5K101” training schedule at the MyRunningMate.com website.)

• Speaking of advanced runners, Richard Merchant of Raleigh uses a popular app called “RunKeeper,” which has built-in trainers to help you prepare for upcoming races. Like most runner apps, “RunKeeper” tracks your time, distance, pace and calories burned. It also uses the GPS in your phone to record the route you run. It’s available for both iPhone and Android.

But “RunKeeper” isn’t just for runners – it also works for those walking, cycling, hiking and biking.

• A similar app is called “MapMyWalk,” which is recommended by Karl Owen of Chapel Hill. Owen says the app seems overly generous in terms of calories burned, but he uses it to track his daily walks and enters that data into the “Lose It!” app, which tracks food intake and exercise to help you lose weight. Owen has lost 40 pounds since Oct. 1.

“RunKeeper,” “MapMyWalk” and “Lose It!” are all free, but also have “pro” versions that offer more features for a price.

• Merchant also uses a weight-loss app – “ Noom Weight” – to track his eating habits. “Noom Walk” is a related app that works as a pedometer, which Merchant has tested on his treadmill and says is very accurate. Both apps are free but have pro versions that offer more content for monthly subscriptions. “Noom Weight” is for both iPhone and Android, but “Noom Walk” is currently Android only.

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