Best running iPhone apps: Mi Coach v Nike Plus GPS
Adidas and Nike go head-to-head in the great iPhone app race. Which is the running mate for you, and what can each offer you in terms of fitness coaching?
There are a number of fitness applications out there for the iPhone, and while some are excellent, others offer you the chance to take on the world but never really deliver. Adidas and Nike have been duking it out in the running arena for some time, and now both have GPS-based applications on the App Store to entice you back onto the roads.
So, you've checked out T3's App Chart reviews of the Adidas Mi Coach and the Nike + GPS, and now you're probably wondering, which one of these running iPhone apps will upgrade my performance best?
See below for our head-to-head with the Nike+ GPS and Adidas Mi Coach iPhone apps to find out.
Cost and set-up
Adidas takes the first round by making its app free – whereas with Nike you’ll need to pay £1.19 for the privilege.
But in terms of what both applications offer, it’s pretty much similar – the chance to track your runs, see your speed and get real-time route information.
Both require a free sign-up process, but once that’s achieved you get the option to see your runs online and break down the individual characteristics.
Nike’s decision to add in accelerometer support is meant to mean the end of inaccurate GPS, as if you head under the cover of trees or the area is a little too built up then the phone ditches GPS recording and switches to alternative means of pace recording.
However, unless you want to calibrate this function, it doesn’t really work. If you’re serious about running, then you should aim to find an easy 1KM stretch of road and help the app learn all about you – but this may put off the non-running as a set up too far.
The Adidas MiCoach app also requires an element of set up if you want to use its coaching functionality, but rather than having to find an exactly 1KM stretch of road, you simply need to follow instructions as it guides you around a 12 minute assessment run, after which it’s worked out your comfort zones.
The assessment feature really helps from Adidas: once you’ve set your pace zones, you can choose a workout structure over a few weeks, and the app will create a schedule for you based on your chosen days of running. During these runs, the app will lower music volume and tell you to speed up and slow down – we warn you, if you have this on in dense urban areas or under tree cover, it will tell you to speed up a lot.
However, this functionality is a real winner and helps vary your runs superbly – knowing you’ve only got to push for a minute before being told to slow down is much easier than managing such pace yourself. By comparison, Nike’s app is much more hands-off. You set your distance and update intervals, and the app will tell you how fast you’re going, how far and time at those pre-set points.
This means that if you’re using the ‘Challenge Me’ section of the app, where you can attempt to run longer, further or faster, you’re pretty much on your own hoping you’re managing it, where with the Adidas MiCoach you get the help of regular feedback. Nike does have a big plus over MiCoach in the Powersong – when you’re low and feeling the energy draining from your legs, you can double-tap the home key and your favourite motivation song will appear to help bring you back to life – which can be a run saver at times.
After the workout, Nike offers a series of famous voices to help motivate you – when you achieve records or hit distance levels Paula Radcliffe, Lance Armstrong or US comedian Tracy Morgan will give you a little power message to congratulate you. Adidas has similar achievements, but only visible online – although a percentage-based score at the end of each run will show you how well you did, which is a big incentive to aim for too.
Online run management
Both Adidas and Nike have excellent online portals for you to track your progress, and both offer wireless synchronisation to upload your runs from the road. Nike’s offering is slightly less powerful than Adidas’: you get route info and a graph of your run, as well as overall stats and the chance to set tailored training programs. You can also rate runs and set information for each in order to build up a full picture of your workout.
Adidas has packed a ridiculously large amount of info into its MiCoach portal, with pace zones, achievements, training tips, nutrition information and route planning via Google maps all into one place. It also offers a huge number of sport-based training routines, with a sliding scale of 1-7 in terms of difficulty.
Overall, it will come down to preference for a lot of people, and brand loyalty will play a part too.
Nike+’s saving grace is the accelerometer, which will make sure you keep your speed at a constant level. Being able to view your run at the end of each session as a pace-based colour is pretty nifty too.
However, Adidas MiCoach offers more features, more structure and real-time feedback than Nike+ and the online portal is so jam-packed with ideas, plans and data that you can’t help finding out how to improve your run.