Runkeeper app brings innovation and minor glitches [Runner’s Week: Day 2]

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Runkeeper is one of the best running apps for Apple Watch, but it's not quite perfect.
One of the most innovative running apps for Apple Watch, Runkeeper is not quite perfect.
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Runner's Week Choosing an Apple Watch running app can prove exhausting. So let Cult of Mac Runner’s Week help get you off the starting blocks.

Every day this week, I’ll review a different running app for Apple Watch. Yesterday I reviewed Nike+ Run Club. Today, it’s Runkeeper’s turn.

Which Apple Watch running app deserves to log your sweaty miles? [Runner’s Week: Day 1]

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It's Runner's Week at Cult of Mac
It's Runner's Week at Cult of Mac
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Runner's Week It takes a lot of effort to go running with Apple Watch, and not just because it gets you all sweaty. The hard work starts before you even put on your running shoes. Simply choosing which running app to use is an exhausting task.

Even if you don’t install any of the plethora of third-party running apps, the Apple Watch Nike+ model comes with two preinstalled options to choose from. So this week, to help get you off the starting blocks, we’ll be reviewing six of the best running apps for Apple Watch.

Nike+ Run Club is borking my runs, and I blame Apple Watch

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Nike Run Club on Apple Watch Nike+
Does the Nike Run Club app for Apple Watch Nike+ go the distance?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At the most essential level, a running app should provide a reliable way to log your workouts: when, where, how fast and how far you run. Fancy features are all very well and good, but let’s be honest — if an app doesn’t get the basics right, it sucks.

Nike has been busy adding new bells and whistles to its Nike+ Run Club app recently. Which is great if you want stuff like photo sharing and news feeds. But all I want is to log my runs, and thanks to my Apple Watch Nike+, that critical function has become pretty unreliable.

How to warm up and cool down with your Apple Watch

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Doing a warm-up before your workout and a cool-down afterwards can reduce your risk of injury
Warming up before your workout and cooling down afterward can reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

When you start a workout, Apple Watch only gives you a three-second countdown. There’s no time for a warmup first. And when you’re done, the Workout app does not prompt you to cool down either.

That is very different from the treadmills and bikes you find in most gyms, which ease you gently into your workout and steadily lower your pace at the end.

Apple Watch may not (yet) support the warmup and cool-down phases of a workout, but that does not mean you should skip them. These Apple Watch fitness tips will help you get the most out of your workouts.

Apps vs. apparel: Can Strava compete with big sportswear brands?

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The last of the indie fitness apps: can Strava hold their own against the big brands?
The last of the indie fitness apps: Can Strava hold its own against the big brands?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Sports apparel makers clearly believe that fitness apps are an important part of their futures. Under Armour and Adidas have invested heavily in fitness apps, and Runkeeper’s recent acquisition by ASICS is just the latest in a long series of app acquisitions by apparel makers.

These companies have big brands and deep pockets. Can an indie developer realistically compete with all that? Gareth Nettleton, VP of marketing for indie fitness app Strava, tells me that like any serious athlete, his hard-charging company thrives on competition.

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.

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.

Why I’m cheating on my Apple Watch

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I now wear two watches when I’m running. Seriously.
Two-timer: I now wear two watches when I’m running. Seriously.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

After six months of trying to log my runs with my Apple Watch, I finally gave up and bought a dedicated GPS running watch.

There’s a lot to like about Apple’s new wearable. The Activity app, for example, is brilliant at helping people lose weight. But the truth is, as a running watch, it sucks.

Where are all the watchOS 2 fitness apps?

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Runtastic's text is sometimes too small to read while running
Runtastic's text is sometimes too small to read while running
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

WatchOS 2 offers cool new features for third-party fitness apps. But a week after its launch, most leading fitness apps have yet to go native and take advantage of the Apple Watch update.

So what’s up? The answer may lie in Apple’s new workout API, which does not provide the GPS coordinates required for apps to map your run or cycle ride.

Training for a marathon? Apple Watch can help

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You Apple Watch can't assess the efficiency of your running style
Apple Watch can help improve your race time (but watch where you're going!)
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

With Autumn rapidly approaching, marathon season is almost upon us. So if you’re planning on running a race, now’s the time to ramp up your training.

Whether you are doing a full marathon, a half-marathon or a 10K race, here are my top 10 tips for using your Apple Watch to achieve a new personal best.