Sunday, May 6, 2012

Updating my exercise technology

I am a big fan of technology and I also love spending time outdoors exercising. Some people think this is an unusual combination, because the stereotype of a geek is someone who spends time indoors staring at their computer. However, technology and exercise go very well together as this presentation by Ted Vickey explains in detail how technology can help with your exercise regime.

I normally use MyTracks from Google to track my running and cycling. Although I am quite happy with the way it works, watching Ted's talk convinced me that I should be more adventurous and try something new. Hence I signed up for an acocount on RunKeeper and installing the associated applications on my phone.

My initial impressions of RunKeeper are quite good. It seems to be very easy to use and it has a very active eco-system of gadgets and applications that can enable you to get an even better experience. It seems to really emphasise the social encouragement aspects, for example after I first used it to record details of a cycle it sent me a congratulatory email for achieving a personal best.

The first difference that I noticed between the MyTracks and RunKeeper is the way they handle the periodic announcement of statistics. The MyTracks software announces the statistics in a normal sounding voice, but sometimes towards the end of a run I am tired and my concentration fades so the statistical announcements don't register properly. In contrast RunKeeper reads announcements very clearly and slowly (as if speaking to someone who does not have a good grasp of English) and this is much easier for a tired runner to grasp. However, while MyTracks pauses any podcast or music that is playing when it has an announcement to make, RunKeeper doesn't and hence it tries to speak over the background noise. Perhaps there is a setting that I will need to tweak.

I will write a more comprehensive review when I have more experience.

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