Keeping Track of My Treks

When I visit cities like New York or London, no buses or subway rides for me. If the weather is nice and my shoes are comfy, I want to walk.

Walking is one of the best ways to see a city — and it's an easy way to get a workout in when you can't make it to the hotel gym. I’ve always known that I walk many miles during a day of one of these visits (I’ve had to have the heels of my favorite below-the-knee Coach walking boots replaced twice since buying them a few years ago), but it wasn’t until I tried out the free iPhone app MapMyWalk that I learned exactly how far I go. (The app is also available for BlackBerry and Android.)

I first tried the app during a visit to NYC during the spring, and in one day I managed to log almost 11 miles. As you can see in the image above, the app used GPS to track my exact route around the city.

It was certainly a “fit” to have a record of where I’d been and how far I’d gone — which made me feel better about the delicious foods I’d indulged in during my city trek. But the fact that my phone’s battery was three quarters drained within about six hours was a “miss.” (Having your GPS continuously active for hours is known to drain any phone battery.)

I wanted to try the app out under more “normal” circumstances, so I’ve used it during a few of my walks around the neighborhood. After giving the app a fair shot, here’s my breakdown of the “fits” and “misses:”

Fits

  • It’s free. There is a paid version, and the biggest advantage of it seems to be that you don’t have to deal with ads popping up left and right.
  • It talks to you. A little electronic voice tells you when you’ve logged another mile. It's a nice reminder.
  • It keeps track of your workouts. Whether you are walking or running (or doing other types of exercise), you can log each workout into your account, which is also accessible at www.mapmyfitness.com. You can also upload the information to your Facebook and/or Twitter account(s).
  • It tracks your calorie intake. I haven’t had much of a chance to test out this aspect of the app, but you can log your food intake, which could be useful.

Misses

  • There are too many MapMy apps. Visit the app store and you’ll find one for running, walking, biking — oh, and there is a MapMyFitness app, too. And based on the Googling I did, I was not the only one confused. MapMyWalk keeps track of all types of workouts, so I wasn’t sure of why I would need to download, for example, MapMyRun. From what I read, they all basically do the same thing and import the data into www.mapmyfitness.com. So I recommend you pick whichever suits your needs and use just one.
  • It runs your battery down.
  • The ads on the free version can get a little annoying.

So the verdict? For a free app, I suppose this one is more of a “fit” than a “miss.” But I’d be interested in seeing how similar apps work before I really committed myself to inputting a lot of data in this one and using it regularly.

Do you use an app like MapMyWalk to help you keep track of workouts? Tell us about it in the “Comment” section of this blog or on our Facebook page. Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous!