I carry my Droid on every run so I have a phone with me. Since it’s already with me, I use it to track my pace and distance on my longer runs. There are a number of sports tracker apps in the Android marketplace but I keep going back to using one in particular, Buddy Runner.
Buddy Runner is super simple. When you first start the app you are greeted by a simple landing page with a start button. Hit start, then hit the road (or trail)! If you like updates on how you are doing as you go, you can configure the program to announce your pace at set distances. Just remember you’ve set it, since it can be a bit disconcerting to be cruising along and suddenly hear a robot voice declare “One mile in… “. Personally I turned this off, but it’s great to have the option if you need the motivation.
Where Buddy Runner really shines is their online dashboard. After a run is uploaded, you can log in and see your distance and pace. You can also compare your runs, so if you typically run the same route you can actually pull up your pace and speed over a period of time and see how you improve. The dashboard tracks your fastest short and long runs, and you can check out a google map of where you’ve been running.
Buddy Runner also offers the option to share your runs over twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook. I tested this through Twitter. After every run, Buddy Runner sent out a tweet with my distance and pace, along with a link to my dashboard. While it’s great to be able to share over Twitter, I actually set my dashboard to private after testing the feature. Distance and pace are one thing, but sending out the details of my dashboard (complete with a map of my running route) was a little too much for me. If there were an in-between setting, where I could share public details of the dashboard (elevation, pace, distance) and leave off the map, I’d be more comfortable using it.
My only other quibble is the GPS accuracy. It seems to come in slightly shorter than Google Maps or MapMyRun indicates, and I can’t figure out whether the inaccuracy is on the phone side or the mapping side. There are weird bugs with the Android GPS implementation, but it seems like most of the discrepancies are relatively small, in the realm of .10 of a mile. If I get a better read on what’s going on and why I will post an update.
Overall, though, I really like Buddy Runner. This isn’t a do-everything app where you can track hikes, bike rides, walks, and runs. It’s solely to measure your running performance. The simplicity of the app is perfect for my needs; I just have to hit start and end, and Buddy Runner takes care of the rest. The only thing that would make Buddy Runner even better would be if there were some way to integrate it with a heart rate monitor. That would make the app almost equal to running watches like the Garmin Forerunner series.
One last item that really makes Buddy Runner a must have for every athlete with an Android phone; it’s 100% free! Can’t beat that for the features it offers!
Scan the QR code below or search the Android Marketplace for “Buddy Runner”
What I Like: Easy to use; Lots of information on the dashboard; Social networking integration
What Needs Improvement: Shares a bit more than I comfortable with on a public dashboard; Setting the dashboard to private removes all social networking integration.