rubiTrack: Turn Your Mac Into a Personal Trainer

If you enjoy sports and workout regularly, you might already be keeping track of your exercise with one or more of the excellent online services available to you: Runkeeper, DailyMile, Garmin Connect among them. These services are great: they can really help you to gain insight into your performance, and to plot and plan improvements.

Some of us, though, prefer not to upload all our data online; it might be that you’re not particularly interested in the social networking benefits these services offer; or you’re concerned about possible privacy issues (you might not want the maps of your runs available to anybody). And so you might prefer to find an option that keeps the information local, storing it on your Mac. If that describes you, you’ll be interested in hearing about rubiTrack, a mature app that does an excellent job of recording and tracking your workouts.

Join me after the jump for a walkthrough of its main features.

Getting Started

I’m mostly interested in running, so that’s what I’ll talk about here, but rubiTrack can be used to keep track of all kinds of activities.

The first question might be how to go about getting data into rubiTrack. Perhaps you’re already tracking your exercise with an iPhone app – a couple of great options reviewed recently on our sister site iPhone.AppStorm are Runkeeper and iSmoothRun. Another good choice is Runmeter. All three of these provide ways for you to export your workout information in formats that can be imported into rubiTrack (in the case of Runkeeper, you have to do this via their website – instructions here – but Runmeter and iSmoothRun both allow you to email yourself the files you’ll need from within the app).

rubiTrack has a triad of iOS apps that interface directly with the desktop app, too. At the moment, I’m sticking with iSmoothRun, and I’ve also been using a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS Sports Watch, which I’ll say a little more about below.

Main interface

rubiTrack’s main window is full of information.

Main interface

rubiTrack's main interface

You can use menu commands or menubar buttons to hide or show most of these elements if you want to simplify things, but I quite like the wealth of data on display. The interface divides into four main areas: down the left hand side is a set of headings by which you can refine which workouts are displayed – by Location, by Date, by Rating, by Distance and Duration. Beside that is the display of your individual activities, shown here in Activity Collection View (the other views are List and Calendar, which are self-explanatory): this mode has a card-like display for each activity, which lets you see all the important information at a glance. Click on any activity, and the Track appears to the right of it, and the Chart underneath.

In the Tools menu, you can choose between different map providers (Google, OpenStreetMap, or VirtualEarth), and between map or satellite views:

Satellite view crop

Bing Maps' satellite view of a run track

(This was a particularly great, and slightly convoluted, run along the English North Norfolk coast back in Spring.)

You can also specify what information is displayed along your routes. The color coding alongside the green route map gives more information about various markers of your performance – here it’s showing my Speed.

This information is also reflected in the Chart:

Chart crop

Detailed chart of a run's progress

On this day, I was using the Runkeeper app, which only records your Speed and Elevation – other apps and equipment can record more information.

Again, from within the Tools, you can choose to highlight different aspects of your performance. Clicking on any of the columns selects it, and highlights (in purple) the related section of the map.

Nice touches

I’ve already covered the main functions of rubiTrack, and you could stop there – what I’ve outlined so far would probably be enough for most users. I’ll just run through a few of the app’s features that add a little polish and value.

Weather

Some apps record weather conditions when you exercise, so this information will automatically be included in the record of your run. If not, you can click on the cloud icon at the top-right of the activity’s card, which will display a weather dialogue:

Weather

No weather conditions recorded here...

This shows that no weather conditions were recorded at the time of the run, and then shows the current weather at that location. Click on the Past button, and rubiTrack tries to find a record of the weather on the day of your run. Sadly, the nearest weather station I could find with a record of that day was 10 miles away, but that’s likely to have been about right:

Past weather

...but ne'ermind, you can find them.

I’ve clicked on the gear icon and selected ‘Copy missing’, and that’s populated the conditions on the run card. Great!

Equipment

The Equipment window keeps track of your exercise kit:

Equipment

Keep track of all your exercise kit here

So I can see that after this morning’s outing, I’m nearing 350 miles in these shoes. When you specify which equipment is used for an activity, this is dynamically updated here. On the card you can see the overall time spent using these shoes, the total distance so far, the number of outings, the date I bought them, the price paid and the name of the retailer.

Workout summary

Call up the Workout Summary (by keyboard shortcut or menubar button), and you can display the history of your exercise by various measures:

Summary window

See your activities over time

You can see here the history of your Speed, Pace, Duration, Distance, Climb, Rate of Climb, or several other options.

There are other features available, including an Athlete Log that helps you keep track of your fitness by weight, BMI, and other metrics.

Other Tools

rubiTrack will interface smoothly with a wide range of other sports tracking tools so that you can easily get your data in – you can see a list here. As I said above, I’ve used a Garmin Forerunner 110 for the past few weeks, and it works just great with rubiTrack. When I get back from a run, I connect it via a USB cable to my MacBook, then click on the sync button, and it downloads my workout straight into rubiTrack.

Forerunner 110

Awesome exercise kit: Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS Watch

The Forerunner 110 is an excellent device, and I’ve been really happy using it. It’s lightweight, has a small form factor, and tracks enough information for my needs. More experience athletes, or those training for longer distances, might need a more complex watch – and Garmin has plenty of those available – but for a casual runner wanting to keep track of his or her performance, the Forerunner 110 does the job simply, straightforwardly, and with no fuss. Paired with a heart rate monitor, it’s proving to be a very good tool in improving my performance.

Conclusion

After years of using online exercise tracking services, I’m very glad to have my information securely stored on my Mac. Every webapp at some point suffers downtime, and some come and go in time – I would hate to have my information trapped in an online ghetto where I couldn’t access or use it.

That said, there’s a lot to like about a number of these services (including Garmin’s own exercise community, Garmin Connect, which I’ll be reviewing on our sister site Web AppStorm soon). I’m continuing to use Runkeeper alongside rubiTrack, because I appreciate some of the social aspects it offers – I find it motivating seeing how my Street Team members are getting on.

rubiTrack is a polished, well considered app – it has the feel of an application that’s been real-world tested, as if the developers have really listened to the community of their users. And, perhaps more importantly, they have actually gone out on the roads themselves, and they’ve built their app around exactly the things that they would find most useful. It feels like its built on solid experience – and that’s something aspiring athletes can benefit from enormously.


Summary

GPS enabled activity and exercise journal for the Mac

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  • http://howtobuildaniphoneapp.com Britalian

    Funny, I installed this two days ago, sick and tired of trailrunner imposing a 20-second wait to prompt me for a donation (minimum $25!!!) before it will allow me to use the software.

    The trial of rubiTrack does not allow you to save data but already I think it’s more intuitive than Trailrunner.

    I expect I will be moving over permanently.

    • http://www.wsd.co.il Miss Henry

      Indeed, I just hate softwares who “makes” you donate, if you want to make money out of your well done software, just charge for it, trial is trial, let us use full version for amount of time.

      Also agreeing on rubi being better than TrailRunner, no doubt about it.

  • Drew

    Please check your links. Your first 4 links in your article all give 404 errors.

    • koiyu

      … and the last 2 (the ones in the summary box)

    • Ian Tromp

      Thanks for pointing this out – fixed now!

  • http://www.bluetooth.org John Smith

    I love rubiTrack. I’ve been using it for 3 or 4 years (since the 1.x versions). The 2.0 version was a huge step up, and it’s just really nice, useful software. It works very reliably with my Garmin units and I’ve never had a problem. I also tried Ascent (which works well, but is ugly). I gave TrailRunner a try but was confused and never could get it looking like the screen shots. It just lacked polish.

    The only thing I sorta miss with rubiTrack is the ability to easily compare segments. You can compare rides but it’s not easy to say “Was I faster on this segment any time this past year?” and there’s no way to compare with others. So I’ve been using Strava (www.strava.com) which is fantastic for that.

  • Eric Durbrow

    This is slightly off topic: but can someone suggest a run monitor like the Garmin for under $150 US that can monitor distance and HR? Or is the Garmin Forerunner 110 the best and most mac friendly of the bunch? Thanks.

    • Annie

      You can get the previous generation Garmin 405 on Amazon for less than 150. it is bulkier, but has more features than the 110.

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