Review: Runtastic is Fantastic

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Runtastic app

After using Runtastic Pro for a few runs, I’m definitely a fan. It was developed  by a German, so most of the users are German or Austrian, but there are several users all over the world.

Last week, I went for a 5.11 mile run for my third outing with Runtastic. Here’s my analysis of the app.

Like Runkeeper or MapMyRun, Runtastic tracks where you run and your pace and speed, along with other cool stats, such as elevation gain/loss, temperature, and the time that you started. I found Runtastic relatively user-friendly. Some features required a little poking around to find it or figure out how to use it, but nothing arduous or confusing. Overall, I recommend this app over the others.

The Good

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Map of my run

I love that Runtastic tracks so much information. If you’re a quanty sort of person who enjoys dissecting every minutia of your run, then this is the app for you. Along with the standard info (map of your run, distance, average pace, average speed, mile splits), it also records elevation gain/loss and then you’re able to see the elevation gain/loss for each mile, plus you can also see your pace/speed along the course elevation gain/loss (see photo below).

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Elevation gain/loss with pace/speed info

You can see in detail how your pace/speed is affected  by elevation changes.

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You can also look at this info as a function of duration as well.

20130216-161511.jpgI love that I’m also able to track other info, such as how I’m feeling, the surface I’m running on, weather, temperature, heart rate info if you purchase the additional heart rate monitor, and there’s a place to write a note.

20130216-161517.jpgLike DailyMile, Runtastic keeps track of how many miles you ran, duration, and your calorie burn. You can look at this information in total, by the month, by the week, or just for that session.

Like Runkeeper and MapMyRun, you can choose what type of feedback you want on your run and how frequently you get it.

I feel that the tracking accuracy on Runtastic is more accurate and better than RunKeeper and MapMyRun. In my own use of MapMyRun, I’ve had terrible tracking. For whatever reason, MapMyRun is unable to locate me properly at the beginning and it almost always has be starting about .5 to 1 mile away from my actual starting location. Then at some point during my run, it is able to locate me properly. This obviously throws off my distance, but more importantly my pace info. I haven’t had as much trouble with RunKeeper, but every once in a while it isn’t able to locate me properly. Granted I’ve ran with RunKeeper for about a year and only a few times with Runtastic, so Runtastic’s perception of accuracy may go down (regression to the mean) as I use it more and more. But I have noticed that lately RunKeeper on every run is not able to give me the correct information on my current pace. My current pace info on RunKeeper varies anywhere from 5 min/miles to 16 min/miles, while my effort level is about the same. For several months now, I ignored my current pace info from RunKeeper. Runtastic appears to give me accurate current pace info.

If you run with music, being able to access the music is integrated with the app, so you don’t need to exit the app in order to adjust your music. You can change settings, so that you’re able to adjust your music using the headphone controls. You also have a choice of having the music stop completely when you get your feedback, or have the music lowered. I tried it both ways. My personal preference is to still have the music going on in the background while receiving the feedback, because I find it too jarring to have the music stopped while a voice looms out of nowhere announcing your stats.

One feature that I think is cool is that you have a choice while out running to have live tracking. Live tracking means that while you’re out running, anyone else who has Runtastic can see where you’re out running and track you as you’re running along. As a woman, I know this isn’t always the wisest option, so you can easily turn this off. But live tracking can be really useful if you wanted to follow a runner during a race.

These days it seems as if everything must have a social networking component to it. Runtastic does as well, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to be that active. If you decide to enable live tracking, other Runtastic users can follow you and send you cheers to encourage you. I’ve tried Runtastic with live tracking on and off. Because there aren’t too many users of Runtastic, I’m not all that worried about getting kidnapped by someone stalking me on Runtastic. While on the website, I have sent out cheers to other Runtastic users while they were running. I can tell that they’re not used receiving cheers, because the little dot on the map that was previously moving all of a sudden stops when I sent out a cheer. Then the dot moves again. It’s a bit funny. I can see how if you’re a woman and/or concerned about privacy and security that this feature is not something you’re interested in. As I said before, it’s really easy to turn this feature off, and then this is not at all something you need to worry about.

The Bad

On the website, because it was started by a German, all the units of measurements are in the metric system. On the app, there’s both English and metric and you can set your preferences, but on the website, it’s exclusively metric. So it’s a bit of a pain having to convert.

If you disable the live tracking, the stats in the app (distance, pace, etc) don’t automatically upload to your online profile, so you need to manually upload the information.

Every once in a while Runtastic will send you a message on your phone telling you what a great job you’re doing or if you haven’t done anything in a while, encourage you to go out and do something. Some people may like this, I just find it annoying.

ETA (May 8, 2013): After having gone on several outings with Runtastic, I must note that Runtastic tends to state that the distance ran is longer than it actually is. It’s perfectly accurate for about 2 miles, then it goes a little long. Although the exact distance varies a bit, I say for distances between 3 miles and 6 or 7 miles subtract .1 mile for what Runtastic says and beyond that up to 13.1 miles, subtract .2 mile. I’ve never ran longer than a half marathon distance, so I don’t know how it performs beyond that, but it’s reasonable to think that the Runtastic distance will increase linearly to the actual distance.

It gives pace splits for only completed miles. If you run a part of a mile, you don’t get a pace split for that partial mile. This feature is something that RunKeeper has and I wish Runtastic did as well.

The photo of the map of the route taken is small. You can enlarge it, but then it quickly goes back to reverts to the small size. You need to play around a bit with the app in order to get it to stay at the enlarged version of the map of the route.

The Ugly

None.

Verdict

Overall, I’m really pleased with Runtastic and absolutely recommend it over Runkeeper and MapMyRun. I think Runtastic has more and better features, especially for running nerds who love to quantify their run. I believe that the negatives of Runtastic (such as metric only on the website) will be addressed relatively soon and certainly as it gains more US users.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Runtastic is Fantastic

  1. I enjoyed your review. I just installed it and will try it out as MapMyRun as GPS issues. It’s been almost a year since your review, have you tried others since and what is current comparison comparison

    • Hey KenGamble, thanks for visiting and commenting. I haven’t been using it lately because I got a Forerunner 10 Garmin. The GPS on the Garmin is more accurate over longer distances than Runtastic. Runtastic’s GPS tends to run a little long, so you need to adjust for it on your training runs. I decided to get a Garmin because the FR 10 was exactly what I wanted in a GPS watch and I was tired of dropping my IPhone during races as I tried to start the app.

  2. Can anyone explain to me what those little icons mean beside the words “The surface was…” I have searched in vain and cannot find any explanation. The first one looks like flat road/pavement, and there’s one with a palm tree that looks like it probably indicates ‘beach’, but what about the other three?

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