Thursday, April 29, 2010

RunKeeper: The first 1,000 miles

I'm going to go running tonight and I will flip the odometer on RunKeeper, taking me over one thousand miles!

I was among the first users of RunKeeper. I purchased my iPhone 3g in late July 2008. Remember, the first iPhone didn't have GPS or any third party apps, so RunKeeper could not exist until the summer of 2008. I had been using Nike+ for awhile and I liked it but really wanted a way to map my runs. I downloaded the initial, free version, of RunKeeper and was underwhelmed. It killed the battery, and continually quit or failed in the middle of a run. I liked the concept but the bullet-proof reliability of Nike+ won the day. Later, RunKeeper forked their product into a free and paid version. I downloaded both hoping to see better reliability and again was unimpressed. For the remainder of 2008, RunKeeper was only trotted out when I was runing in an exotic location where I wanted to record a map.

Like my run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum (Eye of the Tiger blasting through my ear buds)

Or on the beach at Grand Traverse Bay

But as RunKeeper kept coming out with additional versions the product kept getting more reliable and better at managing battery life. By June of 2009, I was using it on every run. By this time, however I was addicted to the social nature of Nike+. I was participating in a bunch of challenges, and really was geting into the Nike+ community.

On September 19, 2009, I was doing my first 20 mile training run. My iPod Nano crapped out and Nike+ failed to track that run. That was the last time I used Nike+ and I have been monogomous RunKeeper user since. I think that since the 20 miler was so important to me, having Nike+ crap out allowed me to quit them cold turkey.

Now I am a committed RunKeeper user. I think its an awesome tool and I have, at various times, used nearly every feature:
  • Manually entering runs with mapping! (like last night when I jabbered on the phone for the whole 5 miles)
  • Intervals (I used run-walk to build up my miles during the summer of 2009)
  • Photos (Michigania, Montreal and Quebec City all offered great photos on the run)
  • Run editing (the canals of San Antonio confused the hell out of the GPS
  • Alternative activities (I have tracked bike rides and swims, the latter by manual entry)
  • Street Teams (I am encouraging my friends to get fit and part of the sell is pushing RunKeeper)
I am excited for iPhone 4.0. I think rapid applicagtion switching will make Runkeeper even better. I also would like to see better support for audio books in the integrated iPod playing system. But overall I feel that the iPhone client is done. In terms of the whole service I feel that the website could learn a lot about community building from Nike+. Where are the challenges? How about allow a second tier of social groupings (tribes? I would love to create, follow or join a barefoot running tribe, or a running doctors tribe) Why can't we use RunKeeper to set up virtual races among or between street teams? How about statistics about StreetTeams. Lots of potential and I am excited to see how this plays out.

Go Run Keeper.

Sorry about the lack of maps in this post. Imbedded maps is not currently working. Known bug. Always a work in progress.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Joel. As a fellow RK Pro user, I can attest to some of the quirks the earlier version of RK presented. It's a great product that continues to get better.