my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise
How time flies! It’s now almost a week since I last posted on here, and so much to tell you all! As promised though, this post is going to be shrouded in geekiness and stat-fest wonderment, so if that’s not your thing, check back to see my next blog post which’ll be about a long run I did last weekend, why I did it, where I went and why I needed a comprehensive cleaning when I got home!
In the meantime, it’s down to business – Endomondo pitted against Strava. I began using Endomondo on a recommendation from a mate a good few years back, when there wasn’t much to rival it on the free app market in the UK. I’d just got a smartphone for the first time and suddenly a new world seemed to open up to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ‘into’ technology in any big sense, but when I find something that is useful and beneficial, I’m happy to open my mind to it and give it a whirl.
Now, I really like Endomondo for the following reasons:
It shows your PB records for various distances (1km, 1 mile, 3 miles, 5k, 10k, Half Marathon) and interestingly, also showed your PB for distance ran in an hour as well as the ‘Cooper’ (How far you can run in 12 minutes, a test made famous by the US Military).
Endomondo also has some fun with you in that it tells you how many times you’ve travelled to the moon (0.004), around the world (0.041), and how many burgers you’ve burned through the calories you’ve consumed through exercise (158 at the last count)!
It allows you to comment on your own run, or those of others who used the app (sadly, not many of my friends do!)
You can edit your session details (so, if the GPS failed to work, as it did far too often, then you can roughly approximate and add distance or time to the session).
It is quite user-friendly. I knew where to look to find different things.
What I would have liked to have seen in Endomondo, before I tried Strava:
The absence of endless adverts peppering every single page of the website when I log in.
Local or country-based competitions, rather than world-wide ones that have unrealistically high volumes of seemingly pro competitors that effectively render them not worth participating in. Also, I don’t understand why they don’t automatically enter you anyway, so you don’t have to remember to enter!
More accurate GPS data and signal coverage. I am no technical expert, but I have had little trouble in this regard when using Strava, and endless issues when using Endomondo, even though all the technical equipment and software is probably exactly the same.
More of my friends! I know they (Endomondo) can’t do anything about this, but I think one of the reasons I felt happy to try out a different app was that I knew more people using Strava than I did using Endomondo, and that community and accountability is something that helps me to stay active.
How I became a Stravanian (I made that up, but am happy for it to become part of common day parlance!):
So, recently a friend of mine who is more of a cyclist than a runner gave me his whole Strava spiel, the salesman’s patter, which he’d obviously perfected through countless ‘pitches’ to others of his friends over time. I have to admit it looked good from the beginning, had no adverts and the map feature on HIS smartphone worked much better than mine currently did with Endomondo.
What pushed me to try it out?
A few cool little features that I found very exciting:
1. An ‘intensity’ score out of 10. You type in a distance for which you have a PB and then Strava uses it to compare your latest session against. So, for example, if I’ve just done a 7 mile run, I could compare it with a 10k PB to see how I compare. OR, on a long run of 15 miles or so, I can compare it’s intensity with a Half Marathon PB. I thought this was a good little feature, but on it’s own, not worthy of persuading me to jump the Endomondo ship. So, what else…?
2. Segments. Now, while I still wrestle with their choice of terminology, effectively what it means is you can chop your latest run or ride into smaller sections and name them yourself (unless someone’s already established one pretty similar to you). Then, Strava sets up a leaderboard for anyone who has EVER done that route (including historical sessions as well as ongoing future ones). How cool. Is. That. In my opinion? Very cool! What it means in practice is that you can isolate hills, for example, and test yourself against an established real time you’ve achieved previously, or that others have set that you want to beat. This is good for a number of reasons. It gives you motivation to try to beat that segment time when you run that route next. It allows you to compare yourself with other people who’ve run that route before and since. It can be seen by all your mates, and the wider world.
3. Kudos. You can ‘like’ your friends’ runs or rides and Strava sends you an e-mail when people have done so. A nice little encouragement and ‘feel-good’ factor that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Maybe. If you’re a girl (no offence). Or me!
4. Achievements. After you’ve saved your run and it has synced with the website, you’re sent a message on your mobile phone with a trophy symbol which tells you your results are ready. Results! Awesome, it feels like you’ve been in a competition every time you go for a run or ride.
5. Comparing yourself directly with a friend. If you click on a friend’s name, you can then compare your Personal Records (PRs – known better in the UK as PBs, Personal Bests) with theirs. In Endomondo, you’d have to pay for the Premium version to do this.
6. Every run (pretty much) includes achievements of some kind, from a King of the Mountain segment to a Personal Record, or a ‘2nd’ or ‘3rd’ personal best run for that segment. This is motivating, fun and enables others to see how you’re doing in a flash without trawling through all your past runs or rides.
7. Uploading activities from Endomondo. One of my biggest wrenches about leaving Endomondo initially was my assumption that all that data I’d built up over a few years of runs and rides was now worthless and unaccessible. I was wrong! With a tiny bit of IT know-how (and I’m talking pretty limited, really!), I could download each run or ride as a .gpx file (I don’t even know what these are!) onto my computer, and then upload that same file from my computer to Strava and hey presto! The session I’d done on Endomondo now appears on Strava! I tried this for January and February of this year, transferring my data and now Strava feels like home from home for me! I would still like to transfer all my data across, but for now, I have enough to be getting on with.
8. Finally, Strava doesn’t deal with people, it deals with ATHLETES. Now that makes me feel good! I am an athlete, not just some amateur dude who runs to fight the guilt from eating good-tasting unhealthy (as well as healthy!) food. When you want to search for a friend, you’re invited to ‘find an athlete’…incredible.
So, to add some numerical judgements to my thoughts, here are some scores:
Reliability (GPS signal)
Endomondo: 6 Strava: 9
Endomondo: 2 Strava: 9
Ease of use
Endomondo: 7 Strava: 6 (still finding my way round!)
Detail of stats
Endomondo: 6 Strava: 9 (You can even state your footwear and bike options for each run or ride!)
Free app functionality
Endomondo: 6 Strava: 8
Scores out of 50:
So, there you have it. My personal viewpoints of these two popular exercise apps. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the merits of these apps, but also any recommendations for other apps or packages you use to log runs or rides.
I guess a natural question from this review would be: ‘How would you improve Strava?’
First thing that comes to mind is to have an ‘Events’ section where any and all events to do with running or cycling are listed. Now, I don’t just mean the UKA-licensed running events, but an exhaustible set list of listings that is effectively the ‘go-to’ place for looking for events anywhere in the UK (preferences could be set to include events in different countries or continents too).
Second, a set of tips and tricks that come up one at a time when you log in, or go from page to page – a nugget of genius, a quote from an elite runner/cyclist, a motivational phrase, etc.
Third, and I don’t think I’ve been on Strava long enough yet to see if this happens, but a monthly or weekly ‘report’ that shows your PBs for the month, miles ridden/run, periods of most/least activity, comparisons with the previous months’ performances, and if you’ve been on Strava for a year, then an element of comparing your times this month with those of the same month in the previous year.
I’m sure I’ll think of more in due course, but after using Strava for a few weeks now, these are my initial impressions. So, a big thumbs up from me, a new user gained from the Endomondo crowd.
What do you think of Strava and endomondo? Are there other apps you use and prefer? If so, what do you like about them?
Coming up in the next blog post: My journey to the other side of the Trent!