Gadgets and Apps for Training Merriment

runner w armbandI teetered between “merriment” and “more bearable” in the title. I’ve discovered that I have no problem with the hard work needed to train well. I’ve been blessed with a get-up-and-get-it-over-with mentality that helps me get through long term goals. The problem with running for miles and miles on end is that I simply get bored.

Boredom is a fledgling runner’s worst enemy. Beginners like me rarely experience the runner’s high, so we’re stuck feeling every step that we take, every thud that resonates from our feet to our knees and hips, every icy breath of autumn air that stabs our lungs. It’s a recipe for torture unless you’ve got some good distractions.spotify

I seek refuge in music. Rather than spending hundreds of dollar on music through iTunes and Amazon music store, I opted for Spotify Premium.¬†It’s only $10 per month with unlimited access to music. In two weeks, I have nearly 300 songs so the fee has paid for itself. Find music, create playlist, download them to your phone–no streaming so you don’t drain your data plan and there is no high price tag. (By the way, if you don’t have a sports armband for your smartphone or MP3 player, get one. Jogging with a phone in hand is just asking for a cracked screen.)

polar hr monitorDownside: when an awesome song comes on, I unconsciously start sprinting. I realized this when my pulse skyrocketed and I felt exhausted after less than two miles. That’s when I went back to my Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor. It keeps me from having a heart attack on the trail every time that Don Omar comes on. (Spare me, I hate myself for my taste in music.)

The FT4 is the entry-level monitor that tracks heart rate, calories burned, and your time. It stores the data so you can reference it later. It’s a good starter monitor but in retrospect I recommend getting one with GPS and elevation trackers. I didn’t, though, so I downloaded the free Run Double app which uses my Android smartphone to track distance and pace. It’s a simple, effective app though I’ve noticed that it says my calories burned is always lower than my Polar double

Let’s switch gears to food. I rarely feel hungry when I’m tired or busy so I don’t eat like I should. So whenever I start a new fitness regimen, I start tracking my food intake so I don’t become a skeleton. It’s also good to make sure that I’m eating high-quality foods that will fuel my body properly. I got My Fitness Pal which tracks vitamins, minerals, calories, protein, and carbs. It’s one of the few free apps that tracks all of those components. There is also an area to log your cardio and strength exercises, or you can import that information from other fitness apps like Run Double.

There are two additional nutriton apps that I got around the same time, though I don’t use them as much. Nutrition Pro Manage¬†wasn’t worth the cost so I just use the nutrient catalog to learn what foods provide certain vitamins and minerals. fooducateThere are also tools for calculating BMI, BMR and PAL.

Free Fooducate has been a lot of fun. It’s a great app for making healthier decisions, even while you’re shopping. It helps you compare items to find which is healthiest, has the least additives and processing, and takes consideration of Kosher, gluten-free, and vegan preferences. I also like the user reviews, which can be helpful if you’re trying a new product.

What apps have helped you to meet your fitness goals?

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