Since I got my iPhone last month, I’ve gotten into this habit where, after I get in bed each night, I play for a while.

Well, last night, I ended up “playing” for an hour in the App Store! Before I went to bed, I did a casual search for Fitness-related iPhone apps. I came across one called RunKeeper that looked really cool!

RunKeeper is an application built for the new 3G iPhone that uses the built-in GPS in the device to enable runners, cyclists, hikers, etc, to track their outdoor fitness activities including duration, distance, pace, speed, and path travelled on a map.

Awesome! After finding RunKeeper, though, I stumbled upon a few other apps that do similar things, with most being free! Can’t beat free!

I think having an app like this for when I start running again (late March, early April) will be a nice asset for measuring my progress and fitness. It seems these apps are comparable to the Nike+ system. My running shoes are compatible with Nike+, with a slot for the chip, but I was not willing to invest in one. Now I don’t have to!

I like the idea of finding out how fast I was moving, my pace, how much ground I covered, and seeing my route online via Google Maps. Some even boast a calorie counter. Not sure how accurate that’d be. I’m sure I’d have to create a profile on a website because everyone burns calories at a different rate, depending on a myriad of criteria.

So, based on my “play time” on the internet and app store last night, which included reading a ton of reviews, I’ve decided that I’m going to get the following iPhone apps a trial run when I resume training:

RunKeeper (Free Version)
iMapMyFitness (Love that I can post my workout directly to Twitter)
The Running Gypsy
Distance Meter (Free)

I will, in particular, be paying attention to the accuracy of the data. I don’t expect that much from a free app, but if I run 5 miles, I don’t want to check my log and see that the app only recorded 1.7 miles, ya know? I also read that there are issues with these apps being battery killers. The concerns come from how some app has to be in the foreground of the screen in order to work. That will zap batteries.

Another issue is that some apps will simply exit if you get a call. There are some lap features included, but I’m not really sure how that would work or if I would need it. Finally, other glitches and stuff like program bugs that come with the territory. Most importantly, I had better be able to play my podcasts in the background. If I can’t, the app gets deleted. Simple as that!

So, I’ve got a lot to evaluate come spring, but it helps get me excited; which is definitely needed after seeing all the snow fall today!