Pros and Cons of Using Running Apps
Technology is now changing the fitness industry. So, it’s no surprise that many fitness enthusiasts are looking for a running app that will offer them an array of analysis and stats.
From providing guided sessions to monitoring performance over time and mapping favorite routes, runner apps have come a long way.
Plus, with the recent survey suggesting that we’re experiencing a pandemic-era running boom (since more people run for their physical health), it’s become clear that using a running app is important for fitness.
But for runners still hesitating on whether a running app is right for them, we’ve pulled together the biggest benefits and disadvantages of using a running app to help you decide if it’s worth using one.
Pros of Using Running Apps
1. Tracks Your Progress
A good running app can track your progress and this is very useful if you’re curious about how well your efforts are paying off.
Running apps are designed to track metrics, like time, distance, pace, and miles and some come with programmed plans for certain races, like marathon or 5K. They also feature longer running trails and routes that will support a faster run.
Whether your fitness goal is to gain muscle, tone up, increase speed, or lose weight, a good app can show you a report of how near you are to reaching your goal.
2. Easy to Use
Another benefit of using running apps is that most have easy-to-use interfaces.
They provide visualization via the users’ smartphone or fitness tracker to give them a clear picture of how they are spending their waking hours.
3. Builds Your Confidence
There are running apps designed to turn sedentary couch potatoes into runners.
Thanks to their workout guides that help users get ready for their race from day one of training to the actual race.
Along the way, the app tracks the distance via GPS and time. There’s also a virtual coach who will give you verbal cues about your routine. All these build your confidence to work your way toward a goal.
4. Keeps You Motivated
One of the great things about running apps or fitness apps, in general, is that they keep users motivated.
They would send reminders and notifications to keep users aware of their health goals, thus keeping them motivated and stay focused on their overall fitness.
5. No Fees Required for Basic Service
From running-themed apps to HIT-centric programs and at-home workout sessions, fitness apps add wellness and more activity to your life, without credit card debt required. How cool is that?
6. Allows You to Stay Connected with a Community
If you prefer to work out or run with others even just virtually, there are apps that allow users to stay connected with a community of like-minded people all doing their best to reach the same fitness goals as you.
It normally works by signing up with your credentials and you invite others to link up with you. During the sync race, you'll see progress where the participants are and their progress. These apps are designed to create a sense of competition with scoring and leaderboards for users to check.
Even if you like to run alone, but thrive with competition, it’s still a good idea to choose a running app that supports members and pushes them to beat the competition.
7. Gives You Access to Other Workout Ideas
During days when you can’t run, there are dozens of workouts you can do to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping without pounding on your limbs and joints.
Some running apps have become advanced nowadays so that users can get effective workout ideas on these apps. This is very helpful, especially for people who have less time to plan a workout.
8. Offers Music Features
Imagine this scenario: It was supposed to be a perfect morning and in preparation for your run, you have devoted time making a playlist. You grabbed your running shoes and headed straight to the park.
Then, when you’re about to reach the trailhead, your running app won't just connect to Spotify. There’s no cell service. It’s frustrating, right? I know.
But the good news is that there are now running apps with built-in music controls. This means users can use the app without having to lose it just to listen to music or, in some cases, even match the tempo of the music to your pace!
9. Let’s You Donate Money to Charity
Okay, not all fitness apps have this feature, but there are those that allow you to donate money to a charity of your choice based on how much you run or walk.
It usually syncs with the user’s steps as well as the charities you can donate to.
Cons of Using Running Apps
1. Some apps don’t track accurately
There are some running apps that are not always 100% accurate, especially your step count. Meaning, you cannot completely rely on these apps always. Without a fitness tracker, these apps may not monitor your heart rate too.
2. Updates can wipe your progress
Just like with any apps, a running app also requires ongoing updates so that it remains relevant. While updates are supposed to help users a lot, these changes may also bring in new things, including a new set of bugs.
The update may likewise remove some of your favorite features, which the app makers deemed not good enough for others. Moreover, the revamped user interface may not be to your liking and it may increase the size of the app. This makes it difficult for people to use a low-end gadget without enough storage.
3. Some have added costs to access extra features
Not all running apps are free as some services are available for a price. This is understandable as they have a lot to offer.
However, not all fitness enthusiasts would want to invest in the premium service because it may not be a necessity for them.
4. It can drain the battery of your smartphone
Ever wondered why your phone’s or fitness tracker’s battery went from 95% to 50% real fast? Or how your storage capacity reaches its limit in just a few months?
Don’t be surprised, but some fitness apps are the biggest battery drains.
The four most demanding functions that are running in the background as you use a running app are your WiFi connection, GPS (location), microphone, and camera.
To avoid this from happening, I suggest you narrow your other app usage or download apps only when needed.
5. Losing focus on running
Have you ever watched a runner stopped in front of a pedestrian lane, retrieved his phone, and tapped the screen, and then once again when he started walking or running again? Can you predict what he just did?
He opened his running app, paused the session, and restarted it a few seconds later when he’s already able to cross the street. This is an example of how a runner can be too reliant on running that it takes the fun out of the activity.
The Final Word
There is no denying that runner apps (or just fitness apps in general) have made our lives healthier and easier. They allow us to make lifestyle modifications and set goals.
In this list, it’s obvious that the pros outweigh the cons, but it still depends on what you are looking for when it comes to what an app can do for you.
To narrow your list of the best running apps to download, check users’ feedback and their rating.
If the app helps you get out there and run, then absolutely keep it!
However, if you’ve been too self-reliant on the running app to make progress, you may have to reconsider going back to the old-fashioned way of running gadget-free.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
Founder, Expert Fitness LLC