Ease Into 5K Is a Powerful Running Coach in Your Pocket
Ease Into 5K is one of a collection of fitness-themed apps from Bluefin Software designed to take a novice runner to the point of being able to complete a 5K race. The training plan builds gradually from a relatively easy workout, increasing distance until the 5K mark is reached.
Most of the fitness apps out there for iOS have three basic functions: They track your performance, integrate with your playlists to give you some music to listen to, and offer the ability to share what you've done on Facebook or Twitter.
Ease Into 5K adds another layer to that formula: a ready-made training plan that builds from a relatively easy workout up to the target distance of 5 kilometers, or roughly 3 miles.
Here is a sample workout: Start with a five-minute warmup, then run 30 seconds, walk 45 seconds; run 45 seconds, walk 60 seconds; run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds. Repeat the cycle two more times, then close out with a five-minute cool-down walk.
The following week and each week thereafter, the running intervals get longer, while the walking intervals are shorter. The program builds until you're running for 28 minutes straight by the end of the seventh week.
At a 10 minute-per-mile pace, the 28-minute run is roughly equivalent to a 5K race, so by the time you finish the eight-week program, you're ready to go the distance.
How It Works
When I first started using the app, I downloaded it, got ready to run and hit "Go." I followed the audio instructions, which included the five-minute starting warmup. While I jogged in place and stretched, I figured out how to play music through the app.
Without my specifying a playlist -- I have one that's just for workouts -- the app shuffled songs from my entire music library. That was fine, but a few minutes of tinkering got my favorite playlist lined up as the default. When the coach said "run," I ran, and when it said "walk," I walked. Pretty simple. You also can set it up to let you know when you're halfway done and when you're about to start your final running interval.
While going through the workout, I found myself running a little faster than normal during the run intervals knowing that I will have a breather coming up shortly. While I've done my own version of run-walk interval training, having a prescribed program to follow gives me a goal to aim for and pushes me a little more than I might push myself.
After I returned from my initial run, I sat down to review my performance and noticed that no distances had been recorded, there was no map, basically nothing that requires GPS. And there's a reason for that -- in order to integrate GPS into the app, it requires a 99-cent in-app purchase above and beyond the $2.99 I already paid.
Now, I've used a bunch of different fitness apps, most of them free, and they always include GPS tracking. It's an essential element in any fitness app. Without it, you are lacking a huge amount of data. Don't charge me extra for a necessary functionality. If anything, integrate it from the beginning and charge the extra 99 cents upfront, but don't play that silly teaser game.
Aside from that one drawback, I have been pleased with Ease Into 5K, and I might even try some of the other apps Bluefin offers, such as Bridge to 10K, which offers a training plan to take you that second 5 kilometers. They also have apps that help you train for a half-marathon or a full marathon. If running isn't your thing, there's a Boot Camp app as well, which takes you through a more full-body strength and conditioning workout.