Running Online

Introduction
A couple of weeks ago came across a ‘cool’ feature on the training log I use to link it directly to Facebook. This then prompted a few questions from other runners, So thought, what would I recommend, what is really out there for use for us runners, so this started a bit of research.

First question is what do runners want to use, I guess it is to keep our training log, keep a race record, find races and read about running in forums at a minimum.

Training Log – background

When I first started running, I used to write the distance and time in a diary, (yes probably with a quill pen) then I started an excel spreadsheet, but life improved and I ‘got a Garmin’ and this came with a basic training log.

Next up, I came across the site ‘Fetch Everyone’ and this let me manually log all the activities on one site with some nice summaries of what I had done monthly and annually, but not just running I could log my biking and gym sessions as well.

Then, I came across Sports Tracks and that allowed me to load the Garmin directly to it and I could see my run on a Google earth image (a wow moment).

With time Garmin came up with a similar package in ‘Garmin connect’ then Fetch improved to allow the Garmin to upload the watch data direct to the site.

Training Log – Features
Garmin Connect
To me Garmin has a nice front end and I liked the play feature that allows you to play your run with measures shown across the bottom.

Garmin is also easy to search out other users routes, so if going to a new area, could look out routes.

Garmin seems to have a good analysis on an individual run, but aggregating this up seems limited.

Garmin offers the ability to upload to Facebook, but when I tried it did not work – but have seen it done by others

Fetch Everyone
To get the benefits from the fetch site you do not need to have a watch and you can manually log the training that you do – but if you have a watch this allows a direct load of all the data with that Google map

The Fetch site easily allows you to log other features from your run, and the part I particularly like is recording shoes used – therefore knowing the mileage done each pair I own and when they should be sent out for a run on there own.

Also able to split the runs into various categorise, i.e. Race, Race Pace, hills, intervals, as well as able to load other activities like Cycling, Swimming and X-training, means everything is kept together.

Another nice feature is the ability load info direct to facebook and also to twitter. You can also export the training log to an excel file

The summary of runs shows monthly and annual mileage against previous years.

The presentation of the information on Fetch is not as clean as Garmin and you have to look around a little but there is a lot of analysis available, especially if you upload data from the Garmin.

Sportstracks
Sports tracks software is slightly different, you download the application to your PC, this means that the data is held on your hard drive – not sure what advantages this brings, but means that you should back up the data and you can only access from one PC for most of us.

Seems to have all the features of the other packages but picks up the temp for the run as well from the nearest weather station.

As the data is on your PC then you cannot share with others

Training Log – Recommendation

All of these packages are free to register and use and I expect it depends on what you are looking for from your log.

However, and this is only my view, I think I would give my recommendation to the Fetch everyone training log, feels very much like it was developed by a runner, can easily be used for various activities and is easy to enter details manually

Race Log
One item us runners like to know is what our PB’s for various races is. (Although some I want to forget)

Seems to be only one site for this I have found – Fetch. With Fetch there is a separate menu for races, and this is where you keep track of races under the ‘race portfolio’ but to see the summary this is under about you.

The summary shows where your PB’s were, and season bests by years, the races also have your ‘WAVA’ scores. (no I don’t understand it but higher % more worked)
You can also see race reports from other runners doing the events and their times.
Only downside is you end up having to log a race in your training log and in your race log – sure this could be improved

Race Log – Recommendation
Has to go the Fetch, as this is the only site that seems to offer good functionality in this area.

Race Finder
Finding the races you want has improved a lot, from a few years back and meant thumbing through the race index in the back pages of Runners World. Now a few sites offer this functionality and importantly the ability to search for races

Out of interest to test this I searched in October 2010 for half Marathons,

Runners World

With a simple to use events tab and the ability search distance from home can keep the number of results down. Many races from the result have a link to the runners world on-line entry system

Events are added to the database by the event organiser

My search found 30 half marathons in October

Fetch
Has a simple to use race finder and the results are shown on a google map. If you know of an event you can add it to the database, as anyone can log events (not sure about this feature, and can lead to duplication)

My search found 39 half marathons in October

Running Diary
This site should have a good number of races as it includes international events

My search found 12 half marathons in October, including a couple overseas

Not impressive

Race Finder – Recommendations
I would recommend Runners World, as think this is recognised by runners as the one place that lists most UK events. However, I like in Fetch that the races are shown on a google earth map, which is powerful when looking for an event, so conclusion is probably to use both sites when looking for events

One real limiting feature of the race finders is the ability to search worldwide for events. It can be a real struggle to find events abroad, if you are lucky you can find the countries running database.

What is a little disappointing with runners world is this an international magazine, and therefore disappointing it does not link up its race finders for different countries

Discussions
Runners World
Runner’s world has a massive forum section and split down into a number of categorise with a reasonable search engine
Discussions on events are also linked from the event page on the site as well. If there is a forum you want to follow you can have e-mail notifications – but this can get a bit onerous, but it is also possible to bookmark forums you want to keep track of
Fetch
Fetch has a talk function, which is also broken down into groups plenty of activity on the site

Discussion Recommendation
Always only used to keep track of discussions on Runners World but seem to notice more recently that most discussions I am interested in seem to be on Fetch. Runners World is easier and cleaner to use.

Summary

Type  PB  2nd  3rd
Training Log Fetch Garmin Connect Sport Tracks
Race Log Fetch
Race Finder Runners World Fetch
Discussions Runners World Fetch

However with the closeness in the race finder area and Discussion overall think my recommendation has to be Fetch

Websites mentioned

Fetch Everyone – http://www.fetcheveryone.com/

Runners World – http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/

Garmin Contact – http://connect.garmin.com/

Sports Tracks / Five Alive – http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/sporttracks/?locale=en

Running Diary – http://www.runningdiary.co.uk/

Hope this is of some use / interest any comments use contact us above
August 2010