Thursday, September 10, 2009

Training Apps That Help You Sweat the Details

“To prepare for his first marathon last year, Michael Nolan trained for six months with the New York Road Runners Club, running up to 20 miles a day five days a week. Nevertheless, he finished with an average speed of about 11 minutes a mile, a full 60 seconds a mile off his target pace. This year, he vowed to be faster. ‘I didn’t want to take that long again,’ he said. So he got a personal trainer. Now as Mr. Nolan prepares for this year’s New York marathon, he is leaner, stronger and ‘easily’ averages eight-and-a-half-minute miles on training runs, he said. Mr. Nolan’s new workouts are not coached by a running guru, but by iPhone applications that show video workout instructions and tabulate every set of burpees, a full-body exercise for strength training, and step-ups. The sports and health industries are just beginning to tap the computing power of smartphones. Applications range from simple calorie counters to heart-rate monitors that use complex metabolic calculations. These apps can help an athlete achieve a personal best, but some doctors say that more important is their ability to produce no-fail routines for the sedentary and obese, which could improve health and drive down medical costs. Here are some of the popular fitness apps out there. There is one respect, however, in which these apps don’t go the distance. Powering the screen while also using GPS or a heart monitor (and maybe listening to music as well) will leave your batteries wheezing like a tubby, two-pack-a-day smoker. If you’re really into getting fit, your smartphone may hit the wall before you do.”

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