Online Running Logs – a review of some of more popular free exercise logs

***This is the first in a series of posts that will review and rate a variety of training/running/exercise logs or journals on the web.  I will start with some of the more popular and hopefully move on to others. The only constraints that I’m putting on what I review is that it must be FREE. 

I’ve been recording most of my training here in my blog for the last 6 months or so along with other ramblings and incoherent mumblings.  This, however, is not the optimal format for a training log.  There is no graphing, no mileage/time tracking, no heart rate monitoring, really nothing.   I know that there are multiple training logs out there and I’ve use a few.   Here are a few of the free ones I’ve looked at:

Each has basically the same features: the ability to log running, cycling, swimming or other fitness type activities on a daily basis with a web-based interface.  None of them require any type of download or installation.  I’ll go through each and kind of give my 2 cents on the overall experience…

The first one I’m going to start with is CoolRunning, I will follow up with separate posts on each of the others listed and more if I can find them.

CoolRunning.com

Basic Site Overview

Coolrunning is a solid, well known, established website and training log.  You can find a ton of useful information and articles on the site and there are many, many users.  Content, for the most part, seems to be well organized and fairly regularly updated.  There is lots of information on races, training, and fitness.  Additionally, you can find multiple calculators to help with pacing and training goals. 

With that said, the overall site does have a slightly dated feel and at times navigation is a bit tricky and muddy.  For example, finding your way to the Training Log itself is not a simple, one click task.  From the home page, you must navigate to the ‘Training’ tab (at the top of the home page) and then down on the bottom-left side of the page is a link to ‘Sign up Today!’ for the Cool Running Log.  This link then allows you to
log in if you all ready have an account.  I’m sure there are multiple ways to get to the training log, but none of them that I have found are any simpler.  There should be a big link on the home page to go directly to your log.  This would make navigation much quicker and more straight forward.  Again if I am missing it – let me know!

***UPDATE*** I was able to find a way to get my journal stats and a link to my journal on the front page of www.coolrunning.com. You can set this up in your personal preferences for your personal start page.  This makes it much easier to find and view your journal from the start page.  It did, however, take way too much digging to find this feature.

Training Log Overview

The training log is simple and easy to configure and use.  Here is the data it allows you to enter:

  • Date of Training
  • Time of Training
  • Workout
    • Sport (Running, swimming, walking)
    • Workout (Interval, training, tempo, etc.)
  • Location
    • Route (lets you store multiple routes and distances)
  • Stats
    • Distance (Tied to route)
    • Elapsed Time
      • Used to fill in a pace field
    • Weight
    • Heart Rate (Avg, Max, Resting)
    • Shoes (Tracks mileage on shoes)
  • Environment
    • Weather conditions
    • Temperature
  • Notes

Navigation through the entry of a workout is good.  All the tab stops go where you would think they should and the drop downs are populated and ready to go.  It does take a second or two to save an entry and it takes you to a separate page before reloading the Journal display page.  For usability, this is not the best design, but it seems to work consistently. 

Along with the data that you enter, the application actually tracks some data as well.  At a glance you can get the following:

  • Week to date totals by sport
  • Month to date totals by sport
  • Year to date totals by sport

The main journal view allows you to see 7 days of entries at a time.  This seems to adequate and is fairly readable.  Additionally, there is an option to view your data in multiple graph formats.  As you will see, while they offer a wide variety of data to put in the graph, the graphs themselves are not very detailed or overly useful.  Bottom-line, pretty basic.

Overall Rating

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  Pretty good, does what it needs to do, but not a lot of extras or flash.  Everything feels like it needs a little bit of an update…

Thanks!

Aaron 

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