I’m not paranoid. Someone’s watching my runs from space…

tinfoilhatDon’t worry, I haven’t finally lost it completely, and taken to wearing a tinfoil hat to stop the aliens from scanning my brain-waves. Don’t be silly. Any old baseball cap will stop them from doing that…

But what I have started doing, is measuring some of my runs using the iMapMyRun  sat nav application on my iPhone. And while it’s giving me lots of useful data, it is also casting me into a pit of despond, as it would appear that I’ve been kidding myself about the distance of one or two of my favourite runs for some years now.

Yes, according to iMapMyRun, my favourite 10k course is actually just 9.6k and my favourite ‘exactly 6 mile’ course is actually 5.7 miles. Who’d have thought that measuring a road run by car would be so inaccurate? Though of course, suddenly, my poor performance in some races is now a little more explicable.

Is the iPhone a useful training tool?

Well, actually no. Which is why this is a simple moan rather than a detailed product review. Purely as a way of measuring how far you’ve run, it works pretty well, if you don’t mind running with the thing hanging off your arm or banging around in a pocket. But the occasional piece of info it feeds you through the headphones tends to be pretty relentlessly inaccurate.

Even when I know I’m running along at a steady 7.5 minute mile pace, it has been known to suddenly announce that I’m running a 20 minute mile, and then to stay schtum for the rest of the run.

routemapOn the upside, it creates a map of your run on the iPhone and uploads seamlessly to the mapmyrun.com website, where you can see a bigger map and even an altitude profile of your run. What it doesn’t do though, is allow you to look any deeper, and see what sort of pace you were maintaining at specific parts of your run.

Naturally, current pace is displayed on your iPhone while you’re running: but let’s be honest, it’s far too difficult and messy to try and read that while you’re running.

But look, If I wanted an all-singing, all dancing sat nav training tool, I’d raid my piggy bank and get myself a fully-featured unit like a Garmin Forerunner. If all you want to do though is to measure your favourite courses so that you’re not kidding yourself about how far you’re running, taking the iPhone along every now and then is a pretty good idea.

Right now I’m dejected, but at least fully-informed for the first time in many years. And I can console myself with the additional knowledge that Ming the Merciless is no longer looking down at me from Mongo and saying: “What planet is that guy on?”

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5 thoughts on “I’m not paranoid. Someone’s watching my runs from space…

  1. I’ve been using a free application downloaded from sportstracker.nokia.com on my 5500 sport phone. Since measuring my usual routes and those of my friends so many arguments have been caused that at times it’s better just to keep quiet or agree that it must be wrong and that the car odometer is so much more accurate. On the other hand after the data has been uploaded to the website and the route examined in the finest detail on Google maps it brings home just what technology can bring to the sport.

  2. I’m afraid that you’re right Mike. Though I live in hope that someone from NASA is going to leave a comment confirming that those satellite things are useless compared to the incredible accuracy offered by a Golf TDi speedo…

  3. Pingback: Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 405CX – (Part One) « Taking Jelly Babies From Strangers

  4. I’m having fun trolling your site! I have an 11k trail race upcoming and am getting info on tapering, and the blogosphere pointed me towards u. Have to recommend RunKeeper for your iPhone gps mapping your trail runs. It gets way deep into splits and elevations and charts your progress by week, month etc. Check it out and thanks for the tips

    • Thanks for the tip. I’ve just tried RunKeeper and it’s definitely the best GPS software for the iPhone. Small review and big slice of humble pie on the way…

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