By John Sonmez January 4, 2011

Introducing PaceMaker for Android

I’ve been working on a secret side project.

ic_launcher_pacemaker72x72

You can find it on your android market by searching for “PaceMaker” or using this AppBrain link.

Or if you are reading this on your phone, try this link.

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If you have seen a few of my posts on Android development, you might have guessed it is an Android application.

If you have seen my post on fitness, you might have guessed it is a fitness app.

Why another running app?

You probably are already familiar with the running applications that are out there, and several of them are really good.

So the question remains, why would I create another running application?

Let me tell you about my own experience trying to get back into shape and when I starting running and see if that answers the question.

Early last year, I decided to start running to get back into shape.  I used a running program called Couch to 5k to get up to being able to run 5k.

I was able to use several of the running applications available for my phone at the time to chart my runs and even post them online.  This was great, but one of the big things I was struggling with was knowing if I was running at the right pace.

On a treadmill this is easy, you can set the MPH you would like to run or the pace and the treadmill will hum along at that pace.  If you want to be running at a 10:00 minute / mile pace, you can easily do it.

When you are outside running, you can’t just run at 10:00 minutes per mile.  You can guess that you are running about that fast, but it is very hard to know.

It’s pretty important to be able to run at a desired pace, for two main reasons:

  1. Making it the whole distance (you don’t want to run too fast or you will die out)
  2. Improving your running (you need to start running at a faster pace gradually in order to get faster)

So as I was running I found that I needed to know what pace I was running, so that I could speed up or slow down if I was running too far above or below that pace.

Once I could run 5k, this became really important, because I wanted to improve my time, but I didn’t want to increase my distance.  (Most experts say running more than about 5k tends to lead to muscle loss, I don’t want to lose muscle, just fat!)

I tried using a Garmin watch to monitor my pace, but that didn’t work out well for a few reasons:

  • It’s clunky and you have to keep trying to look at your wrist while running which causes you to slow down.
  • It’s hard to read small numbers on your bobbing wrist, especially in bright light.
  • The GPS on it took forever to get a lock.
  • The batteries were always dead when I wanted to run.

I set out to make a running application that was mainly geared around tracking your pace.  What I wanted was audio notifications or vibrations which indicated when I was over or under my desired pace by a certain amount.  I couldn’t find any application that would do this, so I created one.

PaceMaker is designed to solve a very specific problem, running at a desired pace outside.  Sure, it tracks your run and will show it on a map, but the primary focus of this application is to help you run at your desired pace.

How does it work?

Once you download the application, it is very simple to use.

The main screen shows your current pace, your target pace, how long you have been running, the distance you have run so far and how many seconds below or above the current pace you are.

Main

Notice the pace is in nice large numbers, so you can read it easily while running.  If you tap the overall pace, it will show your current pace and vice versa.

Overall pace is the pace you have run since you started running while current pace is the approximate current pace in the last 30 seconds or so.

Pressing the start button will start your run, and pressing it again will stop your run, saving your run to a GPX file on your SD Card.

While you are running, if you are over or under your target pace by the amount you set, you will get a nice audio notification saying “Speed up!” or “Slow down!”

You can configure all of these settings in the settings screens.

settings

From this screen you can set the target pace in minutes and seconds, and the distance in miles or kilometers.  You can also set up the alerts.

alerts

From the alerts screen, you can set the alert to fire if you are running too fast or too slow by 15, 30, 45 or 60 seconds, or choose to not alert you.

You can also choose which sound to play if you are running too fast or slow.  A default is provided, but you can select any ringtone on your phone.

Setting the vibrate function will vibrate the phone in a pattern to notify you if you are too fast or slow.

history

All the runs on your SD card can be viewed from the history screen.  Selecting an individual run will display that run and the details on a map.

history_detail

Comments or suggestions

This is my first Android app, so it was quite a learning experience.  I would appreciate any feedback if you end up buying the application, and 5 star ratings are always appreciated.

I intend to fix any bugs or solve any problems that any users report as well as implement many suggestions, so if you have any please let me know.

If you wouldn’t mind sharing this link with anyone you know who is a runner and has an Android phone, I would be appreciative.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."