Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Get Running

Right on the eve of my graduation from C25k (my third graduation, to be precise), I've discovered a new C25k iPhone app: Get Running. If only I had known about it sooner! Get Running works similarly to the other two iPhone/Touch apps I've mentioned previously (C25k and Couch to 5k), but it is more polished. If I were to put together a wishlist of features for a C25k app, it would bear a close resemblance to Get Running's feature set. I am very impressed by my time with it and I am looking forward to seeing further improvements as the developers continue to issue updates.

At the heart of the program is the C25k running regimen. Unlike either of the other two C25k apps, however, Get Running goes a couple of steps beyond with several additional useful features. When you first launch the app (an impressively quick launch, even for my "old" 3G), you are presented with a bucolic image and, along the bottom of the screen, a meandering path comprised of each of the weeks of C25k further broken into steps representing each day of each week. The image of a little runner marks your current place, and you can horizontally scroll the path to the left and right. Impressively, the program calculates and reports on which actual date you are expected to run your next run based upon your prior run. If you try to jump ahead, or repeat a run, you'll find that you can but that a warning will pop up to gently remind you that it is a rest day and/or that you are going out of order.

Select the day of your choice, press the "Run" button at the bottom of the screen, and you are presented with a segmented circular timer. Each segment of the circle represents an interval for that day's C25k run. Separate arcs above and below the circle represent the day's warmup and cooldown. As you run, little green arrows track your progress around the circumference of the circle. You can play your own music (by launching the iPod app prior to launching Get Running), and periodically the Get Running app will cut in with spoken prompts telling you when to walk/run. At present, the spoken prompts simply overlay your background music, and hearing them can be a bit difficult. Splendid Things has already submitted an updated version of the app to Apple for approval. The new version (1.2) improves the audio experience by pausing the music (if any) when Get Running speaks. This is welcome news, as the spoken audio of Get Running is a big part of what sets it so far above its competitors. Audio cues come frequently. They feature the studio-recorded voice of a woman with a very pleasant English accent. She not only tells you when to start and stop, but also how many intervals you have left to go, how many you have done, how much time is left, and even occasional tips and pointers. There must be hundreds of recordings. Run for a few days with her encouraging, and you feel like you have an actual coach congratulating you and urging you on. If anything, the audio cues come a little too frequently (at least in the beginning days of C25k, when there are many small segments) . As C25k progresses and the running intervals get longer and longer, things space themselves out a bit better. Splendid Things has some audio samples on their web page , so you can hear the coach for yourself and also view a tutorial video to see the app in action. And if for some reason you can't get something working quite right, they maintain an active presence on the Get Satisfaction forums. This is not a developer that puts up an app in an effort to make a few quick bucks only to vanish and never update the app again.

Get Running doesn't offer a way to publish your run to social networking sites (C25kapp and RunKeeper allow you to post to Facebook or Twitter following a run). It doesn't map your run (like RunKeeper or MapMyRun) or keep track of your running statistics (apart from which day you ran which run), and it would be nice if the screen could be set to display things rotated to landscape view (so that the timer doesn't look sideways when the iPhone is strapped to my arm). Apart from those minor quibbles, this is pretty much the C25k app I would have developed if I knew how to develop apps. All things considered, there's no excuse not to Get Running. While there is some room for further improvement, my biggest disappointment is that I didn't discover Get Running until my 9th (and final) week of C25k. I just hope they come out with a version for GW28K or One Hour Runner.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this info. I was looking for reviews before buying the app. Your review has answered all my questions and I am getting to download the app now.