Keep Track While You are On the Track

Which running app is the best?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I was talking to a friend recently, who just picked up running. She wanted to lose 60 lbs. She had been running for a couple of months, but she was already bored. She, knowing that I had done a number of races, wanted my advice on how to get more excited about it. My advice: get a running app for your phone.

I was not being flippant or dismissing her, but was telling the truth. Running apps are super useful for recording your running metrics like distance, time, and pace. Running apps can sync to your playlists and heart rate monitors, FitBits, or Apple Watches. And of course, you can share comments and photos about your workout. After our conversation, I began to look at the different running apps and these are the ones that stick out to me:

Map My Run by Under Armour

I'm going to be honest. I was already partial to Map My Run because it logged all of my routes, but it has been a while since I used it. I also loved that it was a great journal for all of your workouts. Since I was regular on it, some great improvements have been made.

  1. Different activities- Change your activity from just a regular run to a treadmill run, group run, gym workout, or swim.
  2. Voice feedback -Keeps you informed of your distance and time.
  3. Mile Tracker- Keep track of the total miles run on the same pair of shoes. This lets you know when it is time to change.
  4. You could also choose to upgrade to get live tracking for safety, training plans, guided running, heart rate analysis, and predictive guided running.

Strava

Starva is more for marathoners, bikers, and triathletes. They use Strava to connect with their friends all over the world and compete. Because they are geared towards setting big goals, they do not offer a lot of perks. Only the basics are free. If you want perks, you have to do the upgrade. Here are some unique points about Strava:

  1. Easy notes- keep notes on each run through virtual "sheets" that automatically come up for each workout.
  2. Challenges- choose from many challenges and virtual races.
  3. Run Clubs- Connect with run clubs in your area and not just virtual

RunKeeper

After checking RunKeeper out, it looks like the one that is best for my friend. It seems like it is great for novice runners. It is oriented towards fitness goals with some competition. In fact, it seems experience based. Here is why I would say that:

  1. Voice Feedback- You have more choices with the vocal feedback. You can choose the accent, which stats, and how often you receive feedback.
  2. Easy to understand- Modules are step-by-step and with large print. This seems simple, but it means a lot to new runners.
  3. There are not a lot of perks unless you upgrade.

Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club is geared towards that in-between runner. They are kept motivated by challenges that they can join. They also are given awards and achievements for their milestones. These are milestones like your longest run to your fastest 5K. Other perks are:

  1. Mileage status- You can achieve a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
  2. Buy shoes- You can purchase new shoes from the app.
If you are a new runner or are thinking about getting into running, I hope you can use this information. As for me, I look forward to giving each one of these apps a try.

H-Town Run Tourist's Guide to Mental Health

Terry Hershey Park: My place of solace

Author's own.

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx


When I need a serious reset, I jump in the car and and go to that parking lot under Beltway 8 and Memorial. I get my headphones, and my phone and just start walking. I'm talking about Terry Hershey Park. This out and back trail of about 12.5 miles has been my place of solace. This is the place where I began my journey into fitness. This is the place that brought me out of depression. I have used the rolling hills of Terry Hershey Park to train for my races, and I still come here to chill the f*** out. This is why:

Breathe in the beauty.

Author's own

There is beauty all around.

Terry Hershey Park is situated along Buffalo Bayou. There are all these trees that are overgrown with vines. It looks like a rainforest. It's like the trees befriended a vine and the vine showed them up. I don't know who is winning in this relationship. I think we are because it is beautiful. See how I just had this weird conversation in my head. Guess what I wasn't thinking about. The bad breakup I went through 5 years ago. Terry Hershey is also great during bluebonnet season. Many people visit to strike a nature pose. You can also use one of the many dedicated benches to reflect on your beautiful surroundings.

Shh! Keep quiet or you will scare them.

Author's own

The wildlife is abundant.

I really get a kick out of counting the different wildlife that I encounter. While preparing for the article, I tried to find all the insects, birds, and mammals that you will see in Terry Hershey. Too many to name so I will tell you my favorite stories.

This week, I saw 5 rabbits, some squirrels, a cardinal, lots of butterflies, a turtle, egrets and herons. There have been many times that I have seen 30 turtles just sunbathing. They are really scared of people so you have to be quiet or they duck back into the water. One time, I was running and almost ran into a huge spider hanging from its silk. I stopped to take pictures, but it wasn't having it. I waved bye-bye as it crawled up it's silk. I have also encountered poisonous snakes, but luckily, I saw them before they saw me. I can't help it, I'm a wildlife voyeur.

Walking or running, you get a great workout.

Author's own.

You can train for challenging races.

Terry Hershey Park is a great place to train. As I stated before, you have 12.5 miles of trails to work with. Whether you are a walker, runner, biker, or canoeing is your thing, this is your place to train. There are some of the best hills in Houston here making it a challenge. There are different trails with different difficulty levels. If you are training for a trail race, you can take the more difficult unpaved trails which are great to work those supporting tendons. You can also get off the beaten path that is across the bayou that will really test you. Honestly, I still don't know how to get on it.

Worth the 4 mile run.

Author's own.

Personal Experience

You have probably gotten that this park is dear to me. Let me tell you about some of the fun times that I have had on it. I call it "fun with myself." Not like that. Brace yourself, This is silly. When you have moments like these, you just have to give yourself over to them. I was listening to classical music while running. All of a sudden a song from the Last of the Mohicans comes on. It was so dramatic, I felt like I was running across a meadow or the frontier. Every turn felt new. I really felt alive and guess what? I was actually running across a meadow because that is what Terry Hershey looks like. I never forgot it. But, you know what I did forget? The fact that my car needs yet a new tire and oil change.

If you are new to Houston, want some hill training, or just need to relax, do not hesitate to get on the Beltway. Exit Briar Forest and park in the parking lot just underneath. It will lead you to mental health heaven.

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