Runkeeper was working okay. So why did I think of changing to Strava? Partly FOMO I guess. Runkeeper has a “nice, clean interface” according to online reviews, but I heard about the social aspect of Strava and I thought more interaction would keep me motivated.
Runkeeper was a lonely space, and it felt like it was missing something. Also, I saw Strava would connect to my Fitbit smartwatch, which sounded useful and wasn’t available on Runkeeper. Maybe I really was missing out on the party.
I downloaded Strava to try it out.
** This article is the opinion of one novice runner, the author, and doesn’t reflect the views of the platform or publication you are reading this on **
The Strava experiment
Strava has almost the same feel as Runkeeper did, and it even seems to have a “nice, clean interface.” I noticed there were no guided runs visible on the iPhone app. I’ll get back to that.
The first thing I found different was that my real-world friends were super easy to find on Strava. I located them right away and followed them. That’s the one big advantage to this platform over the other — the social aspect. And for many people, this will be huge.
I should be all over this part, especially since I’m almost always a solo runner. But for me, it turns out to be too much work to play around with yet another social network. I’m here for the tools. I got bored with that part right away and forgot about it.
Strava won’t hook up with the Fitbit
I spent a lot of time messing around, trying to get this part functioning. It was painful. I updated the Fitbit. I signed into Strava about 10 times. I signed in to Fitbit again and again. I did everything the online searches told me and then gave up.
I couldn’t get my heart rate or runs from Fitbit to sync to Strava. After a couple of hours, it wasn’t worth my time to figure out why.
No music interface and trouble with audio cues
Before trying Strava, I didn’t think Runkeeper’s play-by-play of my runs was as much of a help to me as it actually was. Right away I found myself having to look at my smartwatch to find out my pace or how long I’d been running, where before I had in-ear guidance.
(Update: Strava’s audio cues were there, hidden in the settings gear. I didn’t find them while using the app. I could have easily turned them on, but somehow missed this feature. Too complicated for my tiny brain!)
If there was some way in-app to get Strava to play my music, I didn’t find it. This means starting the music and running app separately, which maybe isn’t a big deal. Runkeeper let me access all my tunes right from in my workouts.
Strava subscription troubles
All I wanted to do was give them money for a subscription. This turned out to be complicated and time-consuming.
I signed up with my iPhone on the app store. It didn’t work, and I needed to send in a support ticket. A few days later after several back-and-forth emails, we finally got it working. There was a ridiculous double account problem which was messing things up.
The cost for me in Canada for a year is $16 higher for Strava, at $76.99. Runkeeper is $54.99. I don’t see that the extra 16 bucks are worth it so far.
I heard so many people talking about Strava, but I was disappointed. It never did sync up with my Fitbit. I wasted a lot of time on the settings, subscription, and app store. I couldn’t get some things directly on the app and had to go onto a “real” computer to get things done. The interface seems confusing to me.
Overall, it was a drag. It didn’t feel like a shiny experience at all.
I went back
While I was sitting in the vehicle waiting for my wife in front of a beauty supply store, I decided to finally bite the bullet and start training for a marathon next spring. This wasn’t a split-second decision, I was thinking about it all week. I had spare time and found myself wanting to plan it now.
I pulled out my phone and compared Strava vs. Runkeeper again. The choice soon became obvious.
There was no way to easily set up a training plan on Strava. I couldn’t see how to do it. Options seemed limited. I closed the app.
(Update: From a computer, you can log in and set up training. Hard to do through the app though.)
I opened up Runkeeper
In less than five minutes start to finish, I selected a training plan and entered my information. All I needed was my current weekly average runs and a few more details. I entered how many and which days I wanted to train, hit enter, and had my customized training plan.
It was smooth, effortless, and quick. I was ready to start training for that marathon.
Today I completed the sixth workout, 2.0 miles — Surges. Using audio prompts, Runkeeper guided me through the whole thing via my wireless earbuds. It was easy to follow. I felt like the plan was going to be a piece of cake to keep working on.
This was what I was looking for — an app that helps me meet my goals with the least amount of screwing around. No hassle or pain points messing with settings on a computer. I just grab my phone and go.
I pick Runkeeper
Based on what I’ve seen, the actual tools available in Runkeeper are much easier to use. They make sense without a struggle. It’s intuitive and it has what I need.
Strava seems to have a lot of customization options. For the tinkerer out there, this is great. You can really get into the weeds going over your stats and fine-tuning everything. I’m more of a “grab it, set it, forget it” guy who will never do that.
I guess the social network part of Strava would be nice, but how much do I really need to spend more time on my phone looking at stat porn of me versus my friends? It just isn’t my thing.
For other runners, Strava might be better. It all depends on your personal preferences. But as far as this guy is concerned, Runkeeper is getting my money.
Do you use apps to track your fitness? Which ones are your favorites? Let me know in the responses!