Rabu, 06 April 2011

Top Triathlon iPhone Apps

OK, OK, this is an unashamed attempt to divert more traffic to my site (its all for a good cause, after all!). If you are new here, welcome, and check out some of the other posts on the blog.

My coach told me today that we were back on track and that I should enjoy the training and not get obsessed. That's like telling me not to think of an elephant (damn, just did). I am currently obsessed with my iPhone - its the best thing I have bought in ages, or at least it is for the moment. I'm downloading so many applications it's just as well that a lot of them are free. Anyway, here are the ones that get to stay on my phone:


I use this app for counting my calories. There are loads of apps around that do this but this one has the advantage of an offline mode (with a more restricted database) and it is very nicely thought out which makes the pain of logging every single thing that you eat bearable. It also syncs with an online account so you can be sure of not losing any data and you can also log stuff from your work computer and so on. The only problem I have with it - and this is an inherent problem of the absurd activity of counting calories in the first place - is that if I type in "chocolate croissant", for example, I am confronted with about 20 different equally plausible options, varying from 160 to 575kcal, and that's not counting "pain au chocolat". You have to use your common sense and, more importantly, try not to cheat. Some competing apps have a barcode scanner that automatically identifies the food you are eating (assuming it is in the database) - but, if you are mainly eating packaged food then perhaps you are at cross purposes. I use it to make sure that I pack in more calories on the days when I am training longer or harder as well as to help me eat "conscionably" in between main mealtimes. Typically, I try to budget myself for enough calories to spend on dinner and a small bedtime snack. The app gives a breakdown in terms of how much protein, fat and carbs you are taking in, as well as vitamin C, calcium, sodium, etc, but you have to take this with a pinch of salt (excuse the pun) as not all of the entries in the database have this kind of detail. Still, it helps me skew my diet towards a higher protein and lower carb based one à la Paleo. Since I started using it around September last year, I have gone from about 12% body fat to about 7% (according to the same - albeit (albethey?) flattering - bathroom scales).


You probably won't come across this little app unless you specifically search for it, it's very simple and low profile. It does all the conversions between pace, speed and race times but it also has a neat little prediction feature (based on Jack Daniel's or equivalent tables) that gives you a good idea of what kind of time you could shoot for in a Marathon, say, based on your Half Marathon time.

Run PaceCalc

This app is similar in many ways to the basic functionality of Pacemaker, but it has the quirky extra that, based on your race times, you can see at a glance where you would have ranked in a number of important Marathon and Ironman races around the world (based on the run time alone).

There are a lot of apps like this to choose from (for example, the one by Nike) from but this one is the best I have seen. It measures your speed as you run / bike, keeps track of the route, allows you to take photos along the route and plays your favourite music with an optional commentary of how many minutes or miles you have covered over the top. You can even see who else is running or riding right now near you. As I have my Garmin I don't use it so much for these features but more to get ideas of new routes - especially when I am traveling. One cute feature is that you can send a "pep message" to another person who happens to be training. I suppose you could also ask them to help you fix a puncture but I've yet to try it.

Mundo TRI

This may not be of interest to many of you as it is in Portuguese (although it has nice pictures!). It gives you access to all the past editions of the Brazilian Mundo TRI magazine and it is completely free! Of course I am particularly interested in it as I will be doing my Ironman in Brazil but, being fluent in Spanish, I have to say that Portuguese (especially written) is very easy to understand. And I like the pictures.


The other day I had to do loads of isometric exercises, each one for 30 seconds. "Isometric" means without moving - the classic example is the "phantom chair" where you sit with your back to the wall but with no support under your legs. (When I have do these type of exercises in the gym I often get the piss taken out of me because many of them look as though you are trying to overcome a case of bad constipation.) I needed a countdown timer that would simply beep every X seconds. You'd think it would be easy to find, right? I went through about three, beautifully fashioned countdown timers that did not have the option to reset automatically before I found this rather basic looking but functional one.

Training Log

This is a very simple app indeed, and that is all I need. I fill in a training log which I send to my trainer once a week; if I am away from work (where I keep it) for any length of time, then it is surprising how quickly I forget what I did or, what is more common, I start to play down the subjective load of the session or neglect to note any aches and pains which could otherwise develop into full blown injuries. I use this app to note down my training at the weekends, on holidays or on business trips.

Route Planner

With this app you can very quickly chalk up a route for the bike (or running, for that matter) complete with elevation data. It's quite handy if you have to improvise while out on the road.

Sleep Cycle

Perhaps not particularly targeted at triathletes, sleep is an important part of the equation (training + nutrition + sleep = good results). This amazing little app works by using the iPhone's accelerometer to monitor how much you are tossing and turning during the night - it can then work out which phase of sleep you are in. Here's the clever bit: you set your alarm to wake you up at no later than 7am, let's say, but with a margin of half an hour before. Why would you want to get up any earlier than strictly necessary? Well, if you happen to be in the optimum moment of your sleep cycles at some point in that window, the app will wake you up slightly before 7am and you will feel much more rested and awake. It also keeps graphs of your sleep patterns so you can easily see how much and how well you have been sleeping, which can sometimes give a clue to lacklustre performance in training.

File Viewer

Again, not specific to Triathlon by any means, but this is what I use to view my training schedules. They are pretty much etched in my mind anyway, so much time do I spend thinking about how I am going to fit them in, but the details of how long to go at what intensity with how much rest are important. My coach sends me my training plans in Excel and this app happily reads them.


The weather is all too important when planning a long ride - in 6 hours it can change from being sunny to pouring with rain (well, not so much in Madrid but you get the idea). As with all weather forecasts it doesn't seem to be terribly accurate going several days out, but it has good by the hour information including important data like wind speed and humidity which can influence performance greatly.

Heart rate

The difficulty I have with measuring my resting heart rate is that, by the time I remember to measure it, I'm drinking my coffee over breakfast and my pulse is already racing with the stresses of the day ahead. Occasionally, I have to admit, I have gone to bed with my Garmin recording my heart rate all night, and looked at the heart rate on waking but this is extreme, even for me. So, wouldn't it be cool if your alarm clock could take your pulse for you when you woke up? Incredibly, this app is able to measure fairly accurately your pulse using the flash to illuminate your finger as it covers the camera on the back of the iPhone. It sounds so unlikely to work that I nearly relegated it to the ever growing category of apps that claim to read your mind / read your fingerprints / warm your hands etc. It actually works. Having said that, I still never remember to measure my heart rate upon waking but it wins any "I bet your phone can't do this" competitions, if you go in for that sort of thing.


If you want to keep abreast of all the news and gossip in the Triathlon world, then this is your bag. It pools feeds from various blogs and forums into one place.

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