Despite this Garmin Forerunner loyalty, lately I have begun testing a new iPhone App, iSmoothRun, and in several ways it is a superior alternative. For example, I used it on this morning's 12-mile Kenyan Way run, and found it helpful in achieving a negative split. Also, detailed weather information is automatically uploaded from iSmoothRun to DailyMile, a capability which does not exist with DailyMile's upload tool provided for Garmin's.
iSmoothRun makes it easy to export one's complete activity data to multiple services. History has proven that web services periodically close, often with no notice. So, a well prepared runner's best defense is to maintain their data on multiple services, which iSmoothRun facilitates as shown below:
My initial concern with iSmoothRun was with its distance measurement accuracy, since deviations proportionally affect calculated pace. After testing both iSmoothRun and the Forerunner side-by-side over several test runs I have concluded that iSmoothRun's measurements are slightly more accurate. The reasons for this are not completely clear, but I suspect relate to the excellent LTE-adjusted GPS measurement data captured by iSmoothRun on my iPhone 5. iSmoothRun consistently measures distances approximately 1.3% to 2% short of the Forerunner, approximately an equal margin that the Forerunner consistently measures certified race distances as excessively long. Despite accuracy being in favor of iSmoothRun, I acknowledge that the differences between it and the Forerunner are insignificant for anyone except a professional runner or coach.
Finding motivation from my iPhone's music playlists I appreciate iSmoothRun's ability to play from a playlist while announcing every mile through my headphones my run's data, including the past mile's and overall run's distance, pace and cadence. Though the Garmin Forerunner provides the same information, in dimly lit conditions characteristic of most my early morning runs I have difficulty reading even the large 310XT screen, so I appreciate being able to hear this information.
I find periodic real-time cadence information to be valuable in reinforcing my ongoing migration towards a more rapid running cadence to both improve my running efficiency and form. iSmoothRun conveniently uses the iPhone's built-in accelerometer to measure cadence, where-as the Forerunner requires the runner purchase a separate, expensive, and battery dependent shoe pod.
iSmoothRun's developer has proven responsive to my support e-mails, and open to product improvement suggestions including:
- When the user has only run one mile, in the announcement say "mile" versus "miles";
- In the set-up screen, allow user customization. This would allow, for example, iSmoothRun to include the "Average cadence" text string preceding that numeric value;
- In the tabular run report, allow the iSmoothRun user to see displayed *for each mile* both the actual start/finish elevations, and the overall elevation increases/decreases within that mile;
- Allow the user to press and hold the select button on their iPhone's headphones to start or stop the run. This feature is essential in a race or a competitive event since the runner is unable at the moment of crossing the start or finish lines to access their iPhone, and iSmoothRun's auto-pause feature would not be helpful since the runner cannot slow as they approach the start or leave the finish line area.
There are many other important iSmoothRun features. To learn more either visit the developer's website or watch the following video: