How to choose the right running app for you

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And the winner is… find out which running app offers the most features
And the winner is… find out which running app offers the most features
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

There are so many iPhone apps for runners, it’s hard to decide which one to use. Should you go for a familiar brand like Nike, or a specialist like Runkeeper?

Ultimately, all running apps do pretty much the same thing: They use GPS to track how far and how fast you run. But when you take a closer look, their features and prices vary considerably. So I’ve done the leg work for you, to help you find the right running app faster.

Weighing the options for monitoring your body fat

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Withings Smart Body Analyzer (left) vs. DEXA, the
Withings Smart Body Analyzer (left) vs. DEXA, the "gold standard" for body fat analysis (right)
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

If you want to lose weight, your Apple Watch can help you sustain healthy habits, but it can’t actually monitor your progress. For that you need to step onto scales.

Any scale will measure your weight, but that is only part of the story. Whether you are dieting or bulking up, it is just as important to keep track of your body fat. The trouble is, this is notoriously hard to measure accurately. As I discovered when I bought a new Withings Smart Body Analyzer, if you think you already know your body fat percentage, you are probably way off.

How to fix the Watch Sport in version 2 (Hint: GPS and Nike integration)

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Concept mockup: will Apple Watch 2 focus on runners needs?
Concept mockup: will Apple Watch 2 focus on runners needs?
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

Rumor has it that Apple Watch will get an update next year. There is already plenty of speculation about what cool new features Cupertino will add.

Personally, I’m hoping that the new watch will focus on fitness, so I’ve created a mockup concept to show what I’d like to see in the next generation of Apple Watch. I call it the Apple Watch GPS, Nike edition.

Running without iPhone makes Apple Watch inaccurate

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Don’t leave me this way - Apple recommends you take your iPhone with you on a run
Don’t leave me this way - Apple recommends you take your iPhone with you on a run
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

Runkeeper is one of the first big-name running apps to offer full watchOS 2 support, which means you can log a run on your Apple Watch even if you leave your iPhone behind.

The Apple Watch’s built-in Workout app has always offered this feature, but it is new for third-party apps. I had never tried it before, but Runkeeper got me curious. So I left my iPhone charging at home, put on a pair of Nikes and went out for a run.

How to set personal fitness goals with Apple Watch

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Positive goals, like training for a marathon, tend to be more effective than negative goals, like losing weight.
Get creative with your goals to achieve greater results.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch gives you three goals: standing, moving and exercise. But these aren’t really goals. They are actually more like targets.

A real goal is something you want to achieve — an outcome you have in mind that is so important, it motivates you into action. Starting a fitness program without this kind of goal is like going on a road trip without any idea of your destination. Maybe you’ll arrive someplace nice, but don’t count on it.

So when it comes to fitness, the big question is: What are you trying to achieve?