From the initial email you receive when you first sign up for RunKeeper
, an exercise tracking and companion site, you get the feeling of a strong community. “You’re not alone on the road to reaching your goals- the RunKeeper community is here to support you along the way!”, says the message from CEO Jason Jacobs. Unfortunately, the feeling doesn’t last long.
The login page has a variety of options, but no walk-throughs to get your started. A first time users may not know what to do first except fill out their profile, which has become instinctive for frequent social web users at this point. Here, you can set a goal for yourself and put in your starting weight to track your success. RunKeeper allows you to add different exercise activities like running, skiing or swimming (to name a few) and input your routes on a map that can be used to calculate your progress, shared with friends, or planned in advanced and accessed on your mobile phone. RunKeeper has an app for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7. To get the full benefit RunKeeper, the app is essential. It tracks your pacing, distance, run time and can follow a planned route or be tracked via GPS. It also suggests workout techniques or lets you use routines from paid fitness classes from their expert coaches. Classes allow you to receive audio prompts during work outs, follow a planned workout schedule and be motivated by your fellow classmates.
RunKeeper has other social options, like linking your profile with Facebook, Google, or searching for local users to build your “Street Team”. You can also find local races in which to participate. But the basic site is rather bland and lonely – it would be nice to see some user activity on the main page to help inspire you. When you reach a certain accomplishment, like walking your farthest distance yet, you receive a congratulatory pop-up on the screen. Motivation would be greatly improved if there was a badge or award that stayed on your profile to be reminded of your accomplishments. If there was a list of accomplishments you could unlock, users would work harder to get there.
Users can register for RunKeeper Elite, a paid upgrade that allows you to broadcast your activities and race results live, get half off of Fitness Classes and access to advanced progress reports. Hopefully the paid version of the site would at least increase the feeling of community that is promised at the onset. All-in-all, RunKeeper is a decent web app for already active people who just need a way to track their progress and don’t feel the need for extra motivation and support. However, if you’re feeling down from running alone, keep looking. The social aspect is lacking, making RunKeeper mostly an app for the solitary athletic.
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