5K Runner: A Couch to 5K App That Actually Works Sucks Like The Rest of Them

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

Update 02-02-15

5K Runner Review W6D2 from Starling FitnessI’m kind of peeved today because this review was a TAD premature. I have now had THREE separate failures of this application. Each time, I was adjusting the volume or skipping a song and the app advanced the workout to the next activity. For example, today, I was in the middle of the W6D2 workout. This workout has a five minute warmup, ten minutes of running, three minutes walking, ten minutes of running and five minute cool down. I was in the fourth minute of the first run and a song came on that was a lot louder than the others and I pushed the volume button on my phone to turn it down. It advanced me all the way to the cool down. Definitely UNCOOL.

The worst part is that when I tried to start it again, it was at the beginning. I had already done almost ten minutes of my workout. I could advance it to the three minute walk, but basically, I was screwed. I did the workout on my treadmill and turned off the app. When I checked off that I had done it, it didn’t let me post to Twitter, like I usually do with the stats. That REALLY made me mad because I had done the workout and I didn’t get to brag about it.

So, not even this program is bug-free. AND the truly irritating part is that the program even has a “feature” of being able to advance to the next section. When you’re in a workout, you don’t want to easily skip the next ten minutes. The whole part of the workout is to DO it. The ONLY reason this program has that “feature” is so that the programmers can test the app without actually DOING the workout. Bad form, 5K Runner, bad form.

Oh, and you can bet I’m not buying the 10K runner or your stupid sit-up and pushup apps. Here I am, looking for another app to train with. Why do they all suck so hard?

Don’t get me started talking about Couch to 5K apps. I will rage and spew hatred for all the crappy apps out there. It will be an hour-long rant about how the MOST important thing about a Couch to 5K app are the audio cues.

5K Runner App Review on Starling FitnessSo, if you want to learn to start running and want an app to help you with that process, DO NOT SEARCH FOR COUCH TO 5K ON THE APP STORE!!! You will find SO many apps and they are ALL garbage. All of them, except 5K Runner.

With a Couch to 5K program, you learn to run by doing intervals. There are times when you run and times when you walk. This app will tell you when to run and tell you when to walk. It will also play your workout music in the background and gently break in to tell you when to run and walk.

5K Runner First Workout from Starling FitnessAll Couch to 5K apps say that they will tell you when to run and when to walk, but 5K Runner actually DOES it. It never misses an audio cue. You see, with those crappy programs, they will gladly tell you when to run, but then some bug happens and they forget to tell you to start walking, so you end up running WAY longer than you should. Or maybe they only work with the audio cues if you keep the screen on the entire run. Some of them only have trouble if your headphones accidentally get pulled out when you dropped your phone. Others break down when your halfway mark audio cue coincides with a cue to run or walk.

I have tested 5K Runner in every possible way to make it break and it has never once missed a cue. Without fail, it has ALWAYS told me when to run and when to walk. It has ALWAYS told me that I’ve reached the halfway mark. It has always given me a little extra incentive when I am in the middle of that last running interval of the day (I REALLY need that one).

5K Runner just WORKS the way it’s supposed to.

That’s how low a bar I set for this program and every other program I tested failed. They all missed an audio cue of some sort and left me walking too long or running too long (that was the worst).

5K Runner W4D2 Workout from Starling FitnessI do have ONE caveat, however. DO NOT LOOK AHEAD! Don’t look at the workout for next time. ESPECIALLY don’t look at the workout next week. It will scare you to think that the next time you run, you’ll have to run for FIVE minutes straight with only three minutes walking for a break. That happened to me. I just finished the W4D2 Run. Before I started, I was so terrified of that run this morning that I tried to avoid it because I had looked ahead.

The funny thing is, by the time you get there, you CAN do it. It might sound impossible, like running for five minutes with only three minutes to recover, but you WILL be able to do it when it comes time for that run. Don’t look ahead, just plug in your headphones and do what the nice lady tells you to do.

5K Runner Settings from Starling FitnessThat is ONE thing that I wish I could change. I wish I could record audio cues for myself. I would have the people I love record the “Motivate Me” sections. I would MUCH rather hear my husband tell me, “You can do this, we’re almost done.” Or my mom saying, “I’m proud of you for doing your workout today.” Even if it were just me, I wish I could record my own voice saying, “Keeping going, Laura. I know you can do this.”

I really like that you can just turn off the voices altogether and just have beeps telling you when to run and walk. I love that you can choose whether it tells you that you’re halfway done or whether you want motivation. Those settings will really come in handy after I have been using this app for several years, but I’m sick of the audio cues.

5K Runner Badges from Starling FitnessFinally, there are the badges. When you do workouts, you earn badges, which feels really good to have one pop up every week or two. Of course, all the motivational cues and badges in the world won’t work if the app crashes or forgets to tell you that you can walk now after a hard run. I love the badges, but they don’t mean anything to me if I am angry at the program for making me run too much.

I’m going to be BRUTALLY honest here. Up until now, my favorite option for Couch to 5K was the 5K app for Zombies, Run! I have been VERY positive about that app because I do love it so much, but even that program has betrayed me. Once it left me running, running, running, and the doctor never came back to tell me to walk. I didn’t hear from her again until she said, “Ok, Runner Five, it’s now time to run.” By then, I couldn’t breathe. I was very mad at the app for that, despite my love for it. THAT’S how important audio cues are when we are learning to run. And I said that I wouldn’t go on an hour-long rant about just that…


Life Is Too Complicated Not To Be Orderly

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

I love this quote I found on the Quotations Page:

Life is too complicated not to be orderly. Martha Stewart from The Quotations Page

It reads:

Life is too complicated not to be orderly.

  • Martha Stewart

I immediately applied it to my home gym. When I am trying to work out, I don’t want to be rooting around trying to find a weight or plug in the exercise bike. Back in October, I organized my exercise room and I find that it’s a lot easier to exercise in a neat and clean room.

Orderly and Neat Home Gym from Starling Fitness

I don’t know why clutter makes it harder for me to exercise in a room, but tidying up and organizing has definitely made it easier for me to get my workout in every day. If you have a corner of a room that’s a home gym, try to make it as neat and orderly as possible so that it’s a PLEASANT place to visit. You might find that it becomes your favorite place in the house.


The Fitbit Charge

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

Fitbit has added a watch, called the Fitbit Charge, with a bunch of extra features to its lineup.

Fitbit Charge Features from Starling Fitness

If you already own a Fitbit, like I do, there is no reason to upgrade, but if you haven’t bought one, there is no reason to buy the Flex when the Charge has so many additional features. I especially like the fact that it’s a watch as well as a activity tracker.

Here is a very thorough review of the Fitbit Charge here:

Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity Wristband, Black, Small at Amazon.comHe was really disappointed with the pulse rate monitoring, but any gadget with optical pulse reading will have the same problems, including the revered Apple Watch. The one feature that the Fitbit Flex has that makes it WAY better to me is the changeable band. I absolutely ADORE the fact that I can change out the band on my Flex to match my clothing. In fact, there are so many options on Amazon that I want to spend more money on my bands than I did on my Flex.

If you already have some sort of Fitbit, then the Fitbit Charge isn’t going to be anything exciting to you, but if you are in the market for a fitness tracker, it’s awesome!


CES 2015: Virtuix Omni VR Home Gaming

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

I went to CES this year and the only really good exergaming thing I saw was the virtual reality thing from Virtuix Omni.

It is a virtual reality headset that works with first person shooter games on the PC. My first thought was, “If that thing worked with Animal Crossing, I would get SO much exercise!!” Then I realized that if it worked with Animal Crossing, then I would never play my game because it would be too much physical activity.

The way the it works is slippery shoes and a convex platform! It’s not a treadmill, like I thought it was. This video shows you how it works.

I don’t really want to play first person shooters, even if it’s cool like this, but if this worked with my Animal Crossing game, I think it would be awesome!


The Second Wave of Fitness Bands

By Laura Moncur @ 8:46 am — Filed under:

Microsoft Band from Starling FitnessMicrosoft just announced their Microsoft Band, which, like the Fitbit isn’t a watch replacement, just an activity tracker. After seeing all that Apple promised on their Apple Watch, the only reason that I can see someone buy this is if they use a non-Apple phone and want some sort of fitness tracker that isn’t Fitbit.

FitBit Surge from Starling FitnessFitbit, on the other hand has also joined the second wave of fitness bands with their Charge HR and Surge HR. The Surge is actually a watch in addition to all the other fitness tracking it does, but it’s still about as ugly as… well as ugly as a Casio.

THAT is what the second wave (and even Samsung’s Gear Fit, which I consider part of the first wave) doesn’t get about this. We are WEARING this thing. EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY!!! It NEEDS to be beautiful because we LOOK at it SEVERAL times every day. If it’s not beautiful, we aren’t going to wear it, no matter how many heart rate monitors and GPS trackers you put on it.

That’s part of what Fitbit got right the first time. Because the Fitbit had interchangeable bands, we were able to at least coordinate them with our outfits.

Interchangeable Bands for the Fitbit from Starling Fitness

We could change their appearance so that we didn’t get so sick of the slim plastic sitting on our arms next to our watches.

Tory Burch Fitbit Bracelet from Starling FitnessBut even now, after almost a year of looking at the thing, I’m SICK of it. I’m SICK of the ugly plastic and I REFUSE to pay TWO HUNDRED BUCKS for a Tory Burch bracelet to make it prettier. That Tory Burch bracelet is more expensive than the Fitbit itself. WHY would I do that?!

Why indeed?

When Apple offers me so many design choices and even a way to change the face of my watch to display the data I want, why would I buy the Surge HR or the Microsoft Band?


It all boils down to cost. The Apple Watch is rumored to start at $349, which is a full one hundred dollars more than the others. All of us are worried that the beautiful watch we have our hearts set upon is the NOT the lowest one on the market, so we’ll have to pay even MORE.

Is it worth it?

Is the Apple Watch worth that much more? Especially if you already own a Fitbit? I don’t know about you, but I have been waiting for a beautiful watch that was digital and had countdown alarms and dual time and showed the day and date on the front screen. WAITING for years for this watch, so the fact that Fitbit has upped their game and Microsoft has jumped into the pool doesn’t change my opinion. I want BEAUTIFUL and I’m willing to pay the extra one hundred dollars and wait the extra few months to get it.


The Apple Watch: OMG! DO WANT!

By Laura Moncur @ 10:56 am — Filed under:

I usually talk about watches and other gadgets on The Gadgets Page. I have had a HATE/HATE relationship with the watch designers of the world for the last nine years, so, understandably, this watch has pleased me VERY much. You can read the gadget review here:

I didn’t think Apple had it in them. Here is my journal entry from September 3rd:

In six days, Apple is making an announcement. The rumors have been flying for an iWatch. I would be reluctant to give up my FitBit and Lose It! They work so well that I am having a hard time believing that post-SteveJobs Apple can improve on that. Of course, after the 09-09 announcement, I might feel differently.

Yeah, yeah I do. Here is the video explaining the health and fitness aspects of the Apple Watch.

I had no idea that I would just give up my FitBit for anything, but the Apple Watch somehow did it.

This tan line reserved for Apple Watch from Starling Fitness


The Starling Fitness Treadmill Desk

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

As you can see, I have wanted a treadmill desk (treadputer, walk station, etc.) for a LONG time. The first time I wrote about it was back in 2006.

EIGHT years later, I FINALLY did it to my treadmill, and I’m so excited! Best of all, it only cost me THREE bucks!!

Treadmill Desk from Starling Fitness

Read more for instructions, but I’m sure you can see what I did just from this first photo. (more…)


The Best Inexpensive Treadmill Desk

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I love the design of this treadmill desk.

Ikea PVC Treadmill Desk from Starling Fitness

He used an Ikea Linnmon Table Top, four Adils legs, and 1.5 inch PVC pipe. Connecting the legs to the table was a bit of a challenge, but he explained how he did it here.

Ikea PVC Treadmill Desk Detail from Starling Fitness

To tighten the connection between the table leg and the PVC make a vertical cut at the end of the pipe and push a coupling down. The coupling will apply pressure and jamb the PVC against the metal leg.

This is the absolute BEST design for an inexpensive treadmill desk. I have been looking at these for a LONG time and this is the first one that makes me want to build it. You can see some of the other treadmill desks here:

It’s obvious that I have been interested in this for a LONG time. The truth of the matter is, I am a literal SLUG during the day. Even walking on a treadmill at ONE mile per hour while I am working would be AMAZING compared to the sloth of my typical work day. I am VERY interested in getting a desk that I can use at my treadmill right now, so this PVC plan is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for.

Via: LINNMON treadmill desk with PVC pipe legs – IKEA Hackers


Samsung Unveils the Gear Fit

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Just a few days ago, Samsung showed the world their Gear Fit. It’s a watch, heart rate monitor, fitness tracker and mp3 player. Here is a video showing it here:

It has customizable screens and bands that are easy to change out.

It looks awesome, doesn’t it? In fact, it almost becomes the watch of my dreams that I’ve spoken about on The Gadgets Page:

Samsung Gear Fit - What's The Catch from Starling FitnessIt’s the watch I’ve been waiting for almost a DECADE. So, what’s the catch?

The catch is that it doesn’t work with my iPhone. The catch is that it only communicates with 20 Samsung devices. The catch is that I would have to figure out how to get music on the damn thing because it doesn’t work with iTunes. The catch is that it is so integrated into the Samsung world that it is completely useless to me.

It’s pretty, Samsung, and you did a good impression of the Apple presentation style, but it’s not going to fly.


S2H Replay: What Went Wrong

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

I was looking through my old screenshots and I found this from a magazine:

S2H Replay from Starling Fitness

It is a review for S2H Replay, a wristband device that I actually bought because of this ad. I wore it for a while, hated it and stuffed it into a box. I actually saw it the other day when I was cleaning out a box and tossed it aside in disgust. I never earned even one “reward,” and that stupid little bracelet didn’t seem very accurate.

I was curious if S2H is still around, but when I went to their website, this is what I found:

S2H Accounts Deleted

So, if you did like them, it didn’t matter because they were deleting all your information. It seems that they were closing up shop so they could offer their services to corporations.

After only a month with my Fitbit, I absolutely adore it and would be devastated if they closed up shop. Where did S2H go wrong and Fitbit go right?

  • GOOD website: The Fitbit syncs seamlessly with my iPhone and my computer making everything easy to read.
  • No false promises: Fitbit never promised to give me rewards for completing my daily steps, so I don’t feel ripped off when all I earn is a 20% off a product I don’t want.
  • Fashion sense: I can change my band on my Fitbit to match my outfit. I know that shouldn’t be a big deal, but for me, it was.
  • Compatibility: My Fitbit works with Lose It! and My Fitness Pal, so any activity I do, automatically syncs over to my food program. This was the deciding factor for me when I chose the Fitbit.

Honestly, I liked the little smiley face and frowny face on the S2H. Considering how little the LEDs on the Fitbit tell me, I liked them better. In the end, S2H was SO close. A little band around my wrist that keeps track of activity for me is a brilliant idea and they were doing it way before any of the other companies.

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