Runners training for a race who want a free mobile app that offers them personalized and adaptive training schedules should download My Asics Run Training. Every other running app I've seen offers training schedules to only members who pay for a monthly subscription or make in-app purchases, and even then they usually aren't adaptive. The My Asics app—yes, it's made by the sneaker company—specializes in designing a training schedule for each runner based on her next race distance, goal time, and current fitness level. It doubles as a run-tracking app, and depending on the data it gathers, adjusts its training schedules. The only drawback is that the run-tracking part of the app captures only the most rudimentary data. Still, it is the only running app I've found that offers a free and customized training calendar, and that alone makes it one of the best fitness apps on the market.
As mentioned, other apps that offer training schedules usually charge for them. To give you an idea of how much money you can save by using My Asics, Endomondo and Map My Run both require paid memberships to get training plans, and they cost $5.99 per month or $29.99 per year, respectively.
One of my favorite running apps, Strava, also has the same paid-only deal for training plans, and its membership costs $6 per month or $59 per year. It's pretty tough to find a mobile app that offers a personalized training schedule for free.
While you can find training schedules online to help you prepare for a race, they aren't adaptive. As you log runs with My Asics, your future runs are adjusted to make sure they are an adequate challenge for you, based on research from the Asics Institute of Sport Science. The app carefully schedules your rest days, too. It's all meant to help you train smarter.
Setting a Training Schedule
To get your training schedule, you have to download the app, create an account, and answer a few questions about yourself and your next planned race. You can choose 5K, 10K, 5 mile, 10 mile, half marathon, or marathon. You also have to enter the date of the race and the time in which you hope to complete it. There's no option to type in a custom length or any race type not shown, such as an ultra-marathon or triathalon.
My Asics needs to know your birthday, too, to figure out your age, your sex (as an adult female, the language, "Are you a guy or a girl?" irked me), and your current running fitness level. For that last field, you select from a range of options that describe how far or how many minutes you can run now.
Based on those figures, My Asics spits out a training plan that tells you exactly when and how much to run, at what pace, and when to rest for every day until race day.
Displays and Feedback
The My Asics app keeps track of your runs as you complete them. It's designed to be used outdoors with GPS. As you run, it shows your miles, time, and location on a map. There are two alternate views: One is a beta feature called SteadyPace, designed to help you maintain the pace prescribed to you for the day. The other shows 1-mile splits, which is better if you need to vary your pace.
An audio feedback option in the settings lets you keep your phone in your pocket and enable audio updates regarding your time and distance, current split, and pace. It's a handy feature if you run with good, sturdy running headphones. Toggles let you customize how much feedback you get and how often. One nice touch is that there is a sample voice guidance audio file that you can play as an example.
My favorite view in the app is the Plan page, which shows every training run and rest day on your schedule. You can open each calendar entry to get information about the run, and a secondary information tab lets you read about which phase of training you're in and its significance.
The pace time and other data about future runs scheduled in your training calendar should change from time to time based on how well you're doing. You'll also notice that after the race date there are plenty of rest days and then recovery runs built into your plan.
As a run-tracking app, My Asics is limited. It doesn't have any advanced metrics that runners might want to record, and it doesn't work with other apps or devices. It will, however, track the miles you put on your sneakers, which may not be surprising given that it's made by a sneaker company. Most running apps have options to, say, pair with a heart rate monitor or connect to another device that might record changes in elevation or foot-ground contact time. If you care about these details, I recommended continuing to record your runs with another app, running watch, or activity tracker.
Real data-loving runners may lament the lack of heart rate information in particular because it's often used to help runners maximize their training. There is another device and app that together give training advice to runners in real time based on heart rate. It's called Pear Personal Coach and Pear Mobile Training Intelligence. The gear you have to buy to use it is a little expensive, though.
The biggest limitation in the My Asics app, however, is that once your race date and goal are entered, you can't change them. I'm pretty sure you should be able to edit the information, but presently, you can't. Language in the app suggests that tapping the gear icon will let you make adjustments, but the only choices that appear are to start a new training plan, which deletes your current one, or terminate the plan, which also deletes it.
I also encountered some little bugs while testing the app. It created duplicate entries a few times while I was manually entering some treadmill runs. It wouldn't let me delete those duplicates and crashed in the process a few times, too.
Although the My Asics Run Training app has some limitations as a run-tracker, it provides free access to a personalized training schedule that automatically adjusts based on your performance, and that's very hard to find elsewhere. If you're training, it's a wonderful companion, despite its flaws. Just be aware that you might need to use it with another run-tracking app or device to get the rest of what you need for running support.