A few weeks ago I started training for a half-marathon coming up in April next year. I ran quite a bit back in college but never anything over 4-5 miles at a time. So during my OMAD journey I wanted to get back into shape and in Oct 2018 I ran 5 miles for the first time in about 5 years. I decided I didn’t need or want to run more than that and left it there. For the next few months I’d run the occasional 2-3 miles but with it being winter and almost no motivation I let it slip. Around March I began to run a bit again with the weather change and started talking to some friends about running. Eventually their talk of training for 2020 led me to start going on longer and longer runs with them and I caved. So here we are in the official second week of my base building plan from Sage Running.
I typically start my week on Sunday and end it on Friday. Sunday has been a consistent 5 mile day with Wednesday being a group 5k and then a long run on Friday. Prior to starting the base building plan I had only hit 17 miles as a weekly max. This week I wanted to see what my limits are so I ran my first 5k “race” and finished at 24:20. I was shooting for a 24 flat but honestly expected to be somewhere closer to 25:00 or 25:30. I also ran 8 consecutive miles for the first time ever today! It was a bit slower than I wanted (1:20 minutes) but I got the miles in and can evaluate from there.
Eight Mile Data
One of the more interesting aspects of this process for me has been finding the best app for tracking my runs. I have tried three different fitness tracking apps - MapMyRun, Google Fit, and Strava. I used all three specifically for running and not tracking any other activities.
Map My Run is probably the first activity tracking app I ever used. It’s got all the basic features you want from your run tracking application such as calories, pace, and splits. You can set goals, find training plans, connect other devices, share with friends and more. If you are wanting something to start with - this is it. If you don’t care about the extended social features and challenges then for the price I’d look no further.
Disclaimer I never used any of the paid features. Had I used them prior to testing out Strava’s then this could have ended up the winner. All of the free features are solid and the paid features come in at half the price of Strava’s.
To be honest I was hoping to fall in love here. I have a Pixel 2 and I am patiently waiting for a Pixel Watch announcement. I really wanted to dive into the Fit ecosystem and track my activities using Google Fit. Sadly, it just doesn’t have that wow factor. It’s nice for tracking overall health trends such as activity, weight (I use my Renpho scale), and heart rate but simply doesn’t have the builtin functionality for pace analysis, route building or goal setting (beyond move minutes and steps). They also have discontinued the web browser in lieu of focusing on the app which also makes it less appealing as a standalone app.
I tried to play around with the API a bit as well. I found it a bit clunky and dropped it after an hour or two. Perhaps I’ll revisit it in the future and try to model the data how I want in a web based version just for myself as an exercise.
The first time I heard about Strava was reading about the heat maps giving away military base locations because soldiers not setting up their privacy settings correctly. When setting up my account I made sure to configure all privacy settings the way I wanted them to start - I figured the more restrictive the better.
At first it seemed a little underwhelming - just another fitness tracker. I recorded my first run and could see the usual stuff like calories, pace, distance. As a dug more into it I found the achievements, the pace details and more. Of course there is even more you can do with Strava if you enable the trial or pay the monthly/annual fee. Strava has been the clear winner for me. For advanced data I feel like this is a no brainer if you are willing to pay $60 a year for summit.
Strava syncs with Google Fit and Apple Health, several different brands of watches and gear, and has an available API. I have yet to dig into the API because of the amount of data that is available has made it unnecessary.