Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Triathlons and Why the iPhone is Amazing (Reason #567)

So I did't post about this yet - but a few weeks ago a large portion of Meghan's family competed in a Triathlon here in town. For those that care about the details it was a 6 mile canoe, 5.5 mile run, and 18 mile bike.

I was impressed to see Meghan's Mom, Aunt, Sister, Cousins and Mere-Bear all compete in the triathlon - so I decided I would compete in the next one in October. Now I have to tell you I am a sprinter and I not only do I not run distance, but I don't enjoy it.

So I had to geek out my training so I would enjoy it!

Enter the iPhone app: RunKeeper (for FREE)

Most iPhones now have a GPS in them (not to mention a digital compass powered by a built in magnatometer - but that is for a different blog). So NET - you can just run with your iPhone and it will tell you how fast you are running, how far you ran, etc. And then it saves the data, uploads it to Google maps automatically and you get this creation:

My 2 Laps through my Neighborhood

This is my first training attempt - so I ran / walked for two loops around my neighborhood (each loop is about 1.1 miles). Not only am I impressed that the GPS knows which side of the street I am on, but I can use the data to look at my pace, and attempt to improve each time I run (both distance and speed).

Almost based solely on this app I decided to buy the new iPhone 3G S because I didn't have a GPS in my iPhone. Below are the differences with and without a GPS in both number of points and accuracy:

Old iPhone - No GPS

Actually I am amazed at how closely your position can be determined by triagulating your cell phone signal - so yes - your cell phone company knows where you are when you have your phone with you. But as you can see I never ran into people's houses and the data is not very accurate but surprisingly only within a 20-30% error on distance.

New iPhone with GPS

Here is where you get hundreds of data points and the GPS can tell which side of the street I ran on!

So my motivation for training is more so to generate data than to run, and I am competing with my old times - for me this makes me get out and run, so I guess it was worth the $199 to upgrade my iPhone.

PS - I am also using this app while driving to definitively tell me which way home from work is consistently the fastest! I will also publish my biking progress with this app.

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