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6 running apps for people who don't even like to walk

Susie Ochs | Aug. 28, 2013
Don't give up on running just because you hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

WalkJogRun—iOS ($5)
While the audio adventure in Zombies, Run! 2 can keep me engrossed enough to forget the pain in my calves and just enjoy the run, it's hard not to notice that I'm plodding down the same old streets in my cul-de-sac neighborhood again and again. Yawn. To keep my eyes as interested as my ears, I like to switch up my route, and WalkJogRun contains hundreds of new-to-me routes near my location, easily sorted by distance. Once I find a promising one, I can view it on a map and add it to my favorites list, and it's easy to plot out runs I've been thinking of trying, to see how long they are.

An Android version of WalkJogRun is in the works, but until then, the RunKeeper-like MapMyRun (free for iOS and Android) also contains tons of new routes submitted by other users. I just wish that either app would give me audio cues if I veer off my chosen route. Looking at the on-screen maps works fine if I've got my phone in an armband, but if it's zipped inside the sweat-resistant pocket of my beloved workout tights, I can't see the screen and I'm running a bit blind.

PaceDJ—iOS ($3), Android ($1)
Having a few good tunes to run to is great—even when I'm beating a path away from the brain-eaters in Zombies, Run, it mixes in music from my running playlist between the bits of story. (By the way, I re-created my playlist on Rdio in case you want to check it out.)

But creating this playlist involved a lot of trial and error: I added songs that I thought would keep me pumped up, but some of them turned out to be the wrong tempo, which made it difficult for me to find my groove. Ever since I got PaceDJ, though, finding new songs to run to has been a snap. It analyzes your music library and uses an online database to determine each song's beats per minute (bpm).

For running, the app defaults to finding songs around 160 bpm, but you can raise or lower that to your perfect number, like my embarrassing 138. (The app has a Measure My Pace feature, but it never gave me a decent result.) Songs that it doesn't recognize are listed in the app's Manage Music/Fix BPMs setting—you can manually update the BPM of any song by tapping the beat on the screen. It's great at unearthing amazing running songs in corners of my library I hadn't anticipated...who knew Boston's "Peace of Mind" is my ultimate power song? I only wish PaceDJ had some kind of History feature that let you review the songs you heard on your run and add them to a playlist.


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