Wednesday, August 5, 2009

iMapMyRun Mobile is free and worth every penny

The great GPS experiment continues with addition of two running apps on my iPhone: iMapMyRun and RunKeeper Free. Both of these apps are free and have fewer capabilities and features than MotionX GPS that cost $1.99. I plan to download a few more of these apps and later do a comparison on Runner's Tech Review. For now I'll talk about my experience with iMapMyRun yesterday and today.
One difficulty I've encountered with MotionX is GPS signal acquistion. This problem is more pronounced in the city than on suburban Long Island but even there it can take a few minutes to get an accurate read. I was able to get a green indicator very quickly with iMapMyRun but that might be related to threshold. iMapMyRun considered the GPS signal viable at an accuracy of 162 ft. where MotionX prefers to get closer before it glows green. Or in the case of MotionX, blue. I went out this morning and selected "Start recording" on the iMapMyRun interface. It was still white when I was ready to start my run but within ten seconds after I left my driveway it turned green. I liked that it had large numbers that showed distance covered along with average and current pace and I thought, hmm, maybe this will work. The darkness helped me see the display as I ran, unlike during the day when the sun reflects off the plastic armband cover. About a mile into my run I looked at the display and everything said 00:00 despite the fact that I'd hit the start button as I left my house. I fumbled with it as I ran and succeeded in getting it working but I knew I'd only recorded half my run at best.

I ended up running 2.25 miles at a 9:06 pace according to my Garmin and the iPhone recorded just 1.1 mile of that. The route map it created showed a similar margin of error to the MotionX routes, again making it look like I cut lots of corners and ran through homes. A Runner's World Loop blogger told me that the Garmin GPS watches are much more accurate than the iPhone location apps. If that's the case I'm back to considering the Garmin 405 because I suspect Run Keeper will perform in a similar way. I did have a little fun with iMapMyRun last night. I set it up to record a run as I drove home from the train station. I covered a little over 2 miles at a 3:15/mile pace. The amazing thing is that many elite runners would have given me a run for my money despite my 300 HP advantage.

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