I’ve been using MapMyRun for about 18 months and I’ve somewhat successfully recorded 40 routes using the Android App. The mobile apps are titled iMapMyRun and are available on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. I love the simplicity of using the Android app and the fact that it tells you how far you’ve gone and your time during the run. This helps me develop new routes of different lengths with almost no effort. I’m working on a post for my favorite running routes in San Diego and I love how easy this app makes it to record and display the routes. The same company has also bought up the domain names, MapMyHike, MapMyWalk, MapMyRide, MapMyTri, and MapMyFitness. I was wondering if they had bought up all the possible combinations… MapMySwim redirects you to MapMyFitness, but MapMyStroll, MapMyTrail, and MapMyJog appear to belong to domain squatters. MapMyRoute is a blog and MapMyExercise and MapMyNap don’t take you anywhere so they may still be available!
Although the app is easy to use, and I’m very technically savvy, it took me several tries to “get it right” when I first started using the app on my Android phone. The biggest problem at first was the route length not recording properly. Even though I knew the route I was running was at least 3 miles, it was only recording the first half of the route. There were buildings on one side of my route so I tried running away from the buildings on the second attempt. This still didn’t help. I had my Standalone GPS services turned on, but not my VZW location services, or my Google location services. My phone was having a hard time getting a good location, so I decided to try turning on all 3 location services. That worked so much better. The location indicator narrowed down much faster, and I did not have issues with lost GPS signal as often.
One of my favorite places to run is the Mall in Washington DC. There are usually a lot of people around, it is easy to get there on the Metro and there are lots of reasons to add more distance to the run. I love seeing a new monument or a part of the area I’ve never been to before. I have had frequent issues trying to actually record one of these runs though. I’ve probably attempted to record this route 5 times, and I think it has only worked without glitches one time. I hate it when I’m running a route and I feel the phone vibrate, then vibrate again in about 10 seconds. I know the phone is getting ready to restart itself and that I’m likely to lose some or all my route information. If I’m close to the end of my run, I’ll just stop and try to save the data. The iMapMyRun FAQ recommends turning off your WiFi when using the app to avoid issues like this, so I’ll be sure to do that from now on.
There have been a few routes where I thought everything was going great but when I look at the route I realize there were issues with the GPS signal. This can result in frustration but may also be funny, or give you credit for a longer run, and a much faster time than you actually ran. About 6 weeks ago I recorded a run on Harbor Island in San Diego. The user interface for the Android app had just been updated and I had not figured out the way to determine if my GPS signal was good before starting my run. They used to show the map and a signal quality ring around the predicted location that got tighter as the signal got better. Now the map was gone, and all I was seeing was the start recording button. The next time I ran I noticed the GPS signal indicator above the start button. You always want to wait for the signal to be good before you start or you may get unpredictable results, like a run across open water…
There are several things I have not tried, like running an existing route. I do like the freedom to set my route as I run, and know how far I’ve gone and the pace. However, it would also be nice to have a set of times against a single route all in one place, so I may play around with running an existing route. On the MapMyRun website there are some nice features for viewing the map in different ways, like adding satellite imagery or doing a 3D route flyover. These are actually features of the map they are using (embedded Google maps), but fun to play with.
I’ve used the app to record routes when hiking, but the lack of a good data signal and battery life have been problems. The updates they have made to the app so that it starts without displaying the map may improve the ability to use the app even without a data signal. Even after you start recording you have the ability to switch to stats vice a map view. I’ll try out these new features to see if I can record a route with a bad, or no, data signal on the next remote hike I take. I also have an external battery pack with a solar panel to maintain the charge that I’ve been wanting to try out.
Another nice feature I’ve used in the past with mixed results (but it seems to be getting more reliable), is the ability to launch the phone’s camera app, take a picture, save it, and then return to the iMapMyRun application and continue running. I wish they would allow you to pause the run first and then get to the camera, but the camera icon is disabled once you pause the run. This usually means that I either take a very quick picture, while the clock is running, or I pause the workout and go to the camera by going home first, then opening the camera (not as convenient). The picture at the start of the post and these at the end are all pictures I’ve taken while recording a route in iMapMyRun.