Most runners can agree, the best kinds of workouts are the unplanned ones. The workouts where you just gear up and go. No hopes or expectations. No mileage requirements or goal paces. Just a free run. Exercise in its most basic form.
That’s my favorite way to run anyway. Which is a major reason why I’ve totally become addicted to a new running app called Cruise Control that syncs the beat of your music to your pace.
I shared a little sneak preview of the app a few weeks back when I recapped my first run back after recovering from a cold. But even a few weeks and plenty of workouts later, what this app is capable of still totally blows my mind.
It has revived my love for really rocking out to my music while I run (one of the reasons I originally fell in love with the sport), and taught me that there’s more to good running music than crazy, upbeat, bubblegum pop. (Who knew?!) But even beyond reconnecting a runner to the idea of running for the love of it, I’ve found that the app’s four different features actually have the potential to help everyone become a better runner.
1. Running Free
The app’s “Free Run” setting is the feature of the app that will sync your music to the rhythm of your pace. It’s beneficial for a few reasons. First, it really forces you to pay attention to your pace. For example maybe Bob Marley’s Red, Red Wine is playing but it sounds super sped up. If you had meant for your workout to be a more laid back run, it could be a hint that you’re taking it a bit too fast. A subtle reminder to slow it down a little. It’s the perfect way to make sure you’re paying attention to your body and cadence, while still being able to keep your earphones in. Second, it makes almost any song appropriate for any type of workout. So you can just hit play and go. No worrying about what song might come up next or pressing the next button seventy times before you finally find that one perfect running song. (A distraction I am quite often plagued by.)
The pace feature of the app allows you to pick a goal pace that you aim to stick to throughout your run, and all you need to do to make sure you’re hitting that pace is match your steps to the beat of the music. Again, this is such a ground-breaking way to use music and technology for learning how to pay more attention to your body while you run. Not only will this help you run faster by keeping you on pace (I know it sounds almost crazy that a song can keep you on pace but I tried it and it really, works), but there’s a good chance that it could also help prevent injury by keeping you in tune with your body and the way that it’s moving while you run.
3. Target Heart Rates
This feature reminds me of that Selena Gomez song. “To the beat of my… To the beat of my… To the beat of my heart.” Oh wait, sorry. That was Hilary Duff. Not the same, because Hilary Duff is so much cooler. Except for the fact that she recorded that song. Anyway, this feature allows you to pick a target heart rate and according to the Cruise Control, “as long as you match your steps to the rhythm of the music, the music will drive you to your heart rate goal.” This is such a cool concept to me. However the only downside to this feature is that you need a heart rate monitor that can connect with your iPhone. My heart rate monitor, the Polar FT60, is not iPhone compatible, so I have not tested this feature first hand. For those with the means to use the feature, it not only has the potential to help you run faster, but to also improve your overall fitness because learning to train within specific heart rate zones will increase your body’s ability to efficiently deliver oxygen and fuel to your muscles during aerobic exercises like, running.
4. Cadence & Tempo
Put simply, your cadence is the number of times that your feet hit the ground over a period of one minute while running. If you’re a super serious runner and know, for example, that for a certain workout you’d like to train at 180 SPM (steps per minute), you can use Cruise Control to pick a target stride rate and the app will adjust all of your songs to play at the same tempo. This is cool for all you math lovers out there who would really enjoy figuring out where their SPM would need to be in order to keep a certain pace and another neat tool for workouts aimed at increasing speed.
Aside from syncing your music, the app also uses your phone’s GPS to record your distance and route. When the workout is completed you can review a map of your route, your average pace, your overall distance, and your total time.
The app is available in the Apple iTunes store for $4.99 and, I think, well worth the money. Especially if you’re like me, and really enjoy running along to your favorite songs and playlist.
What’s a song that you love running to, that others might not typically consider a “good” running song?