Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gear Review: Runner's Log by FikesFarm, LLC


One of the things I had drilled into my head in college was that it's crucial to keep a running log. My coach would expect us to mail our logs to him in the summer and to bring our logs into our meetings with him, so he could see how we were handling the training, as well as what kind of supplemental training we were doing on our own. I've tried various logs over the years. My first log was the planner that I had originally intended to use for school assignments (obviously that got used exactly how I had originally planned). That worked until I lost that log. Next, while I still had hopes of finding my planner, I kept everything on the whiteboard outside my room, figuring I'd copy it all over when I found it. Needless to say, I didn't find it, and my roommate eventually erased the "random numbers and jibberish" because people weren't able to leave her messages. Oops. After that, I tried keeping everything in a Word document on my computer (which in retrospect, should have been either a spreadsheet or database, but apparently I'm not that organized). Apparently I didn't feel this was worthy of being backed up, and I lost it when I got hacked (long story, don't ask). I then moved on to various steno books until I was introduced to Athleticore (think DailyMile or RunningAHEAD without the flash). Athleticore is great, but let's face it, it's not 2009 anymore, and a lot of people don't want to deal with loading times and a browser and a log that doesn't have the ability to let you map out a route. People want apps. With the introduction of Runner's Log by FikesFarm, LLC, if you have an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad, well, now there's an app for that.

Runner's Log is described by FikesFarm, LLC as such:
Runner's Log makes it very easy to track your running sessions, keeping a log of the distance and time taken for each run.

● View a calendar showing which days you ran recently.
● View statistics and charts of weekly, monthly, and yearly progress.
● Map your regular routes—their distances are automatically computed and entered. 
● Track the total mileage put on your running shoes (which typically last 350–550 miles).

Runner's Log makes it easy to record the results of a running session in a matter of seconds. You can also use Runner's Log to review your running history, and plan new routes for future running sessions. 

When you return from a run, use Runner's Log to record your session. The date, route, and shoes used are all automatically filled in based on defaults. The time spent on your last run for the route is also presented as the default. Simply adjust the minutes or seconds and you are done! Your pace will be shown to you. 

To plan a new route to try in your neighborhood, go to the routes tab and bring up the map, which centers on your current location. Simply tap points on the map in order to create your route. When done, the route distance is automatically computed. If you run this route frequently, you can set it as the default. 

Runner's Log makes it a cinch to keep track of shoe mileage. Any unlogged mileage already on your shoes can be added to the total tracked. You can track each pair separately, and you can choose a pair of shoes to be the default for new running sessions. When a pair is ready to be retired, you can mark it as such. 

You can view a calendar showing which days you ran recently. This makes it easy to decide if you are due for a run today, or should take a break. You can also view statistics and charts showing weekly, monthly, and yearly summaries of your distance, time and pace, as well as the accumulated mileage put on your shoes.
Runner's Log gives you the ability to map your own routes

And then they all appear here

The first thing about Runner's Log that I noticed is that it lets you input a route on a map manually and it'll give you the mileage. Something I hate about many of the apps on the market today is that they're completely GPS-based and you have to carry around your phone to figure out how far a route is. First of all, who the heck wants to carry around their phone? I guess some people probably do, considering they make phone armbands for working out, but I certainly don't. Geez, I don't even like carrying around a shirt, but I guess that's a subject for another post. Some of the apps will let you input a distance manually, but that requires that you know the distance of the run beforehand, and the fact that our college runs were basically badger miles only based off 8:00 miles (only we never ran 8:00 pace, and therefore the distances were always wrong and varied from year to year) indicates to me that a lot of people probably have no clue how far they run. Plus a GPS-based app gives you no freedom to work out a route beforehand if you're in a strange place. Runner's Log gives you the freedom to either input a number manually or map one out on their little map (a la the MapMyRun website). Obviously my finger is less than perfect at tracing routes and the distances are coming out a little long (versus my Garmin, not versus the slow version of badger miles...not that my Garmin is 100% perfect either). Luckily, this is easy enough to correct, since I can just stop drawing the path early if I already know the distance, and it's close enough to estimate for runs I'm looking to map beforehand. I've been informed that once iOS 6.0 is released, a future version should allow you to follow roads automatically (the current Google Maps API used by Apple does not allow that kind of functionality). I'd like to see an easy way to do an out-and-back route that doesn't require me to retrace it myself, a feature that I was told should also be in a future iteration. Additionally, Version 2.0 is also set to include GPS functionality for those of you who don't mind carrying your phones around with you.


Adding a new run to Runner's Log is pretty easy

And then it appears in the log and calendar views (and if you actually use the program for a while you don't look like a slacker)

Inputting data is very simple. Everything is user-friendly and self-explanatory, and all the fields are laid out nicely. Input is either with the scrollers that should be very familiar to iPhone users or with the touch keyboard. The only catch is I find myself not writing as much in the notes portion as I do on Athleticore, but that's because when it comes to touchscreens versus physical keyboards, I'm kind of a luddite. I also refuse to play real games on my phone after wasting a dollar on Mortal Kombat 3 (and a couple bucks on Street Fighter IV because I don't learn) and realizing that they are even less playable than the terrible wrestling game on my PSP despite the fact that MK3 and SF4 are generally cool games...so take my keyboard input complaint for what it's worth. (In all fairness, it may only be terrible because I don't know who any of the wrestlers are and I bought it because the character creation in those games is always awesome, and there's something hilarious about creating myself and having me beat up people I don't like that I also created 300lb wrestlers, but I digress). Anyway, Runner's Log costs slightly more than Mortal Kombat for iOS, but less than Street Fighter for iOS and Smackdown! vs. Raw for the PSP, and it's probably the best program out of those three, and...wait...what were we talking about again?

Nice easy to read stats page (and a bar graph option in the corner)

And a way to keep track of your shoes

Aesthetically, Runner's Log is really nice. Simple, user-friendly, just a nice looking app. Prettier than Athleticore and not as juvenile looking as DailyMile...almost reminds me of RunningAHEAD's setup, though obviously, as I stated before, there's something to be said about it being an app and not being dependent on a browser and internet connection. Runner's Log does a nice job displaying stats. There are bar graph views where you can compare stats like distance, time, and pace from week to week, as well as a screen that gives you a summary of stats for the week (in number form) and how many miles each of your shoes has on them.


I do have one complaint about Runner's Log, and while it's unfortunately a pretty big one, I was promised that an update that fixes it is coming. One thing that I really like about Athleticore is the ability to tag runs as "easy run" versus "cruise intevals" versus "anaerobic intervals" versus whatever else I want to create as a workout type. Then I can look at the calendar and immediately see where the quality days land, which lets me review my log much more easily. Unfortunately, Runner's Log doesn't allow you to tag runs that way, making everything appear the same on the log, and it also doesn't let you put in a separate warmup and cooldown on quality days (which means you'd have to either lump everything together or put them in as multiple runs). I am told that Version 2.0 will allow tagging runs with user created tags. Fingers crossed, because in my opinion, that is the one and only feature keeping this log from becoming one of the top electronic running logs available today.


It also looks like the next iteration will allow sharing on DailyMile. I don't personally use DailyMile (I do have a blank account for stalking though, hah!), but I know quite a few people who do, so I'm sure that many people will appreciate this feature. I've also been told that version 2.0 will include iCloud functionality, so you can upload all of your runs to iCloud in case you lose your phone. Until then, you'll need to back up your data to your computer if you're one of those people who tends to lose or break phones. And as stated previously, version 2.0 will include GPS functionality (but will not lose the current mapping with a GPS function).


Runner's Log is a really nice entry into the running log app market, and as it gains more functionality in future iterations, may very well be one of the better logs available to runners. Those of you who prefer an app-based log to an internet-based, spreadsheet, or pen-and-paper log may want to seriously consider this one. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it, seeing where FikesFarm goes with it, and keeping my fingers crossed for that tagging feature.

Runner's Log by FikesFarm, LLC can be purchased through iTunes for $2.99 for the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Please see the website for full compatibility information.

Full disclosure: Runner's Log was graciously provided to me by FikesFarm, LLC in return for a review. While I appreciate their generosity, I do not have any affiliation with FikesFarm, LLC. The opinions expressed in this review are mine and based on my experience, and do not reflect the opinions of FikesFarm, LLC or anyone else.

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