Why I love Runkeeper

Back in July ’09, I was a few weeks into training for my first charity 10K when I realised that the C25K iPhone app I was using wasn’t giving me the featured I wanted:

  • ability to track progress
  • ability to share progress with friends
  • ability to track pace during an activity

It was at that point that I discovered Runkeeper and fell in love!

At first glance, Runkeeper is a simple app that allows you to track any outdoor fitness activity using the iPhone’s integral GPS (indoor activities can also be tracked manually via the app or online).

However that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Runkeeper motivates me to get out running and run faster, further and more often:

The Runkeeper app is simple to use. Simply create an account, wait for a decent GPS signal and hit the ‘Start’ button and you’re off. Add to that:

  • training workouts
  • audio announcements
  • iPod integration

and the app is incredible value for money.

But your $10/£5.99 investment doesn’t end there. There’s the website that allows you to dig deeper into per-activity data. If that’s not enough, the subscription-based ‘Fitness Reports’ allow even greater slicing and dicing of fitness data.

The team behind Runkeeper listen to users and deliver the features they are requesting:

The Runkeeper product has an extremely enthusiastic user community who love to give feedback, highlight bugs and give ideas for new feature enhancements. That feedback is actively encouraged and, most importantly, Runkeeper keeps delivering those requested features. New features are cranked out at a pace. For example, in the last few weeks, we’ve seen new features added to the website such as:

  • Polar Heart Rate Monitor integration
  • manual entry of activities
  • manual entry of routes
  • ‘Runkeeper Live’ Tracking

(I’m sure I’ve missed something!)

The Runkeeper team engage users and whip them up to a frenzy using social media:

The Runkeeper team know how to make the most of social media. Not only do they spread their brand each time a user’s activity summary is posted on Twitter or Facebook, but via both media, Runkeeper share new features, respond to customer’s enquiries and make users feel as if they part of the ride. Simply following the team members on Twitter (@runkeeper, @michaelsheeley and @tomboates) gives users insight into features that are being worked on but also how well the team gel and don’t take things (or themselves) too seriously.

In addition, Jason has the ability to whip up a frenzy by casually teasing users with details of imminent announcements, new features etc. Based on team tweets and their posts on the product’s Facebook Fan Page, we already know app version 2.2 is being actively tested in-house and will include more audio announcement configurability and (maybe) some form of ghost running. Also coming this week are more robust route-editing capabilities on the website.

I personally haven’t been as enthusiastic about a product 6+ months after getting it as I am with Runkeeper. Part of the reason is that the product/service is constantly being evolved.

However, the main reason is that Runkeeper makes me feel like my user involvement is making a positive difference to the product/service. That feeling often leads me to emailing ideas at 3am to the Runkeeper team (who’ve most likely heard the idea 100 times. However, I have a strong feeling that the in-app ‘swipe’ navigation has more than a little to do with my suggestion for that feature), ad-hoc testing of new features (I seem to have the ability to find bugs other users don’t see!) or reading the team’s tweets in the early hours for news of new features!

I, for one, am looking forward to being (a very, very, very small) part of Runkeeper’s future.

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