Review: Spotify Running

faviconSpotify announced a couple of weeks ago some new features to its service and one was Spotify Running – functionality which tracked your running pace and generates a playlist to keep you motivated.

I don’t listen to music much when I am running but it does help motivate me and I wondered if it would help me keep a consistent pace todays 5K.

Did it?  Well I only managed 3.17 K today  😞  Spotify Running did not help at all.  My pace was slower, my stride was all over the place and I have never felt so distracted by a running gadget….  Here’s why…

To start off Spotify does do a good job of tracking your pace.  Of the 5 times I started it (if you want to change type of music you have to come out of the current playlist, select a new one and start again), during my run it only failed to find my pace once.  Even though I felt I was running at different speeds it always came within the same range of 160 – 165 steps per minute.

I thought it would track my pace throughout my run but it does not – it sets the pace from your first few steps and sticks with it – I think this is a mistake and is quite annoying.  Most runners start faster and find there stride after they have run decent distance, the app finds your pace quite quickly and once it has it locked there’s no going back.

When I do run with music I I like it to be familiar and motivating.  like it to accompany me, not distract me…  Sadly this is where Spotify Running has major problems:

1)  Spotify assumes you always have an internet connection.  When I ran past the one spot where I have a dip in my signal all I would hear would be “Internet connection lost, trying to reconnect” – this soon becomes annoying.  It’s doubly annoying when it’s telling me there’s no internet yet my iPhone is notifying me of new mails!

2)  Therefore Spotify does not recognise any of the music I have downloaded on my iPhone in Spotify nor does it try to match with any music I like.  Everything it played was downloaded and all of it was music I have never listened too before.

3)  The music playlists sound varied but they are awful.  I found each one more annoying than the previous…

a)  Electronic Moves – not so much Electronic but really cheap American EDM – even though it matched my pace it kept making me run faster which is not necessarily a good thing and it was crappy Skrillex type noise which doesn’t help anyone concentrate.
b)  Hip Hop & RnB – this was so full of shouting and expletives it just annoyed me (and I like Hop Hop and R&B).  It was rap plain and simple – I could not really catch the beat to keep a consistent tempo.
c)  Upbeat Running – I have no idea what style of music it was but it seemed like 1990 surfy type music (the type they’d play on The OC) which was just uninspiring and very difficult to run to.
d) Throwback Hits – how far were they throwing me back?  I didn’t recognise two tracks and one I did was Blondie!  I think it was at this point I gave up and yanked the headphones off my head.

4)  As I said above, it does not adjust to your pace as you run – it records your pace when you start and then assumes you will run at that pace for the rest of the run.

5)  You never hear a complete track – Spotify has chosen to find random points in songs to fade out the one you are listening to and to fade in the next one (if there’s an internet connection), this is annoying and distracting as in most cases the difference in songs is clear so it ends up sounding like a really dodgy DJ whose just been given a mix fader for christmas!

6)  Skipping tracks is possible but you have to wait ages for Spotify to cue up the next song and it has to download it.

These may sound petty or not but this is my take out from using the app.

I will say again that it does seem to track your pace and match music to it quite well therefore if you like listening to random music, are not bothered about what or who it is and can quite happily ignore what’s playing then I think you would be ok with this app.

I however, am not.  I did not find any of the songs to be motivational.  I hardly knew most of the artists as they tended to be generic American acts.  Sadly Spotify did not find anything close to what is in my massive music collection (and I am very disappointed as I have been a big Spotify user for years), nor did it use my downloaded collection as a back up – which is a missed opportunity.

I have never been so frustrated with a run before.  I did try an app that changed the tempo of the music to suit my running but I managed to persevere with that – at least it was songs I knew!

To hear that Spotify are teaming up with Strava and RunKeeper for future versions is rather worrying.

This may be early days and I am sure some people might find inspiration in the ability to match their starting pace to a random soundtrack but I am afraid I won’t be using it again.

The only thing that really salvaged my run was finishing with my headphones in my hand and running music free for the last section.  It felt cumbersome carrying my headphones and water bottle but at least I was free of the awful musical choices of Spotify Running.

Today’s really bad stats are available on Strava 😦

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