MapMyRun Review: An Inexpensive Fitness Watch Alternative

by Reads (63,604)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 8.5
      • Functionality
      • 9
      • Ease of Installation/Ease of Use
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 9
      • Cost Benefits
      • 10
      • Total Score:
      • 9.10
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Offers accurate GPS fitness tracking for free.
    • Eliminates the need for multiple dedicated devices
    • Even at $2.99 for the paid version, it's far cheaper than most fitness trackers
  • Cons

    • Carrying a smartphone on a run is bulkier than a watch on the wrist

Quick Take

This is a great app for any runner to have on their smartphone, either to substitute or replace a dedicated GPS fitness watch.

Fitness trackers have been making headlines lately, and there are now dozens of little gadgets available to help measure progress. But these devices can be pricey and require a certain level of commitment to make the purchase worth it, so for the casual (or cheap) athlete, there are apps that offer similar features.

\"MapMyRun

The MapMyRun app is one such app, and it\’s great for runners who like to hit the road with a smartphone in tow for entertainment, safety, and convenience. With it and a handset, users can listen to music, call for a ride if you get lost, and keep track of miles, all without carrying three separate pieces of equipment.

Record a Run

MapMyRun is a great way to accurately track workouts using a smartphone’s GPS. The app reports statistics in real time and can deliver stats via voice prompts, letting the user know when they have hit predetermined mile markers without pulling out their phone and checking the screen. For instance, if the app is set to alert the runner at 1 mile intervals, at each mile, a voice will announce the current distance, time, and average pace.

The on screen route tracker uses Google Maps and displays distance, speed, route, elevation, and more. This is different from most GPS watches and tiny trackers, since most models can not display a map in real time. This makes it a great feature for those who tend to get lost on runs (this writer-runner included).

TechnologyGuide found the recorded routes to be accurate, and on par with data recorded with a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch. Since it uses the smartphone\’s GPS, there was no wait time before the app found the GPS signal, something common with GPS watches.

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While recording a run, the user can toggle between the map view and more detailed statistics; the stats tab shows distance, time, pace, including average pace and best pace, and calories burned. It also features an in-app camera to quickly snap shots along any running route. The app is responsive, which comes in handy when trying to toggle between views or check stats while in motion or through a protective case. MapMyRun will also run in the background on a smartphone, allowing the user to open up other programs, such as a dedicated music app.

MapMyFitness advertises that the app will maintain battery life up to eight hours, touting its benefits when training for anything from a 5k to a 50k race. During testing with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, the battery life on an iPhone 4 remained steady on 5k runs, even with a mostly drained battery and music playing. Don\’t expect to record a run on less than 10-percent battery life, but anything over 20-percent is likely to last on shorter runs; this may vary on other smartphones. The app\’s ability to run on a low charge will appeal to those who regularly forget to charge a dedicated GPS running watch.

Track Your Progress

In addition to tracking workouts, users are able to keep a detailed food log to track nutrition as well as their weight. Workouts can be shared with friends and family, for some healthy competition, or maybe with a running group to track progress. Routes can be saved automatically, and the app will keep track of past stats and compare it with future workouts on the same route. Users can save routes as public, which means there is a good deal of available routes to scroll through in any given area.

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The app itself has an organized user interface, and the record button to begin a workout is easily activated though the screen protector of an armband or case. Settings allow for a delay in recording, which can be set as low as 5 seconds, and will prompt the user with a sound or vibration when it begins to record.

Saved or previously recorded routes can be pulled up from the app itself, making it quick to choose a route on the go. The app also populates nearby routes submitted by other users in the area, which is a great feature for running groups, track teams, or runners looking to try something new. To save a route for a future run, users can be bookmark routes directly from the app.

For those who want to add social media into their running routine, the app can post directly to Facebook and Twitter from within. Users can connect with friends through the MapMyRun website and can share as little or as much information as they would like. To take a call during a run, the app has a setting that will auto pause the workout, so data won\’t be skewed if a runner needs to take a quick break.

There are even contests that users can enter, and if they reach the goal (for example, run 30 miles in 30 days) before the cut off date, they are entered to win various prizes such as an iPad or a Visa gift card. It is certainly an interesting way to motivate oneself out the door every day.

Sync Other Devices

The app will sync with any heart rate monitor featuring Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ technology, and will continue to track heart rate and progress throughout the duration of a recorded workout, even while taking phone calls. The app does not limit what type of workout can be recorded, and allows for a log to be kept so that the calendar feature will display all the workouts logged beyond those tracked with the GPS app. Cycling can be recorded, but MapMyFitness has a separate dedicated app called MapMyRide,in addition to apps for other activities. The other fitness apps will sync to your online account at MapMyRun.com, making it easy to review workouts in one spot.

\"MapMyRun

Runners that already have a dedicated GPS sports watch, such as a Garmin, can sync their devices easily through the website platform. Users with a Garmin, CycleOps, or Timex device can hook their unit up to a computer and import workouts through the MapMyRun website. Those with a Polar, Evernote, Fitbit, or Nike+ account can sync through the website, so that workouts can be cataloged in one place. The website will also accept workouts uploaded in TXC, GPX, FIT, and POLAR HRM file formats.

The free version features ads at the bottom of the screen, but they do not interfere with app performance, nor do they get in the way of recording a route. There maybe a popup ad here or there when saving routes, but they are easy to clear away, and for what it offers at no cost, its easy to overlook. Plus, upgrading to the pro version for $2.99 gets rid of ads all together for a minimal fee compared to buying a fitness watch.

MapMyRun also offers a monthly subscription plan starting at $5.99/month, which in addition to no ads, supplies users with advanced map features, route genius, training plans, heart rate analysis, power analysis, cadence analysis, leaderboard filters, and live tracking of other runners. Apple users will also get custom splits, mobile coaching, and interval training with an MVP account. On the website, MapMyRun also offers a deal on a Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Strap, compatible with the iPhone 4S and 5, for $49.99; it also comes with a 1 year MVP membership subscription as part of the price, at the time of review.

The MapMyRun app is available for Blackberry OS, iOS, and Android for free, with the paid version going for $2.99 at the time of this writing.


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