I was asked to review the KIQPLAN app “Your first 5k”.
KIQPLAN make several apps that all pretty much ‘do what they say on the tin’ with names like ‘Goodbye Baby Bump’, ‘Beer Belly Blaster’ and other such titles. At about GBP20.00 they are considerably cheaper than a personal trainer, cheaper too than a bespoke handwritten plan.
I’d heard a bit about KIQPLAN but never really looked any closer. Now’s my chance…
“Your First 5K” is designed for beginner runners helping them progress over 12 weeks by building base aerobic conditioning and adding in lots of goodies with nutrition, strength work, phased training, flexibility and more.
‘Your First 5k’ is compatible with most android devices and iphones. To be awkward, I tried an old Samsung S3 which is not compatible and hence didn’t work. I also tried a a fairly old ipad where I downloaded the iphone app which did work. If your Android phone doesn’t show in the app store then the app won’t be compatible.
You are asked usual things about ‘you’, such as weight and height.
Then things get potentially a little cleverer where you can optionally link to your RUNKEEPER or MYFITNESSPAL apps. Similarly also to Garmin Connect or Withings.
3rd Party Compatibility covers these: Fitbug (Orb), Jawbone, LifeTrak, Withings, Fitbit, Garmin Connect, iHealth, Misfit Wearables, Nike+, Runkeeper and MyFitnessPal.
The connection to Garmin Connect didn’t work for me but the connection with RunKeeper did, so I quickly linked that up. I didn’t test the others.
The Key Elements to the app’s dashboard are:
- 12 Weekly Training Schedule;
- Fitness, nutrition and sleep info;
- Workouts, recipes and articles;
- Achievement badges; and
- There is detailed info behind much of the summary exercise data available as you progress.
So, as a ‘for example’, here is the high level summary for the achievement badge types.
And then you can ‘drill down’ to a bit more detail and explanation. Generally the app is good at explaining things in context that you might not understand.
I like the ‘dashboard’ views. Here is a flavour of where you are today – I have many more steps to do and calories to consume. I’m a bit nervous that the app has told me I have to eat 1400 calories. Maybe it knew I was half way through the day as if it were saying I need to only eat that many calories based on my BMI it is woefully underestimating my daily calorie needs.
I get a bit nervous about the incorporation of ‘recipes’. Whilst nutrition is obviously key to athletes’ success I suspect many people who focus too much on food do so because they focus too little on exercise. I would argue that you don’t need to change your diet to do your first 5k after 12 weeks. Sure; changing your ‘bad’ diet to a ‘good diet’ is a GREAT thing do with many benefits but it’s not a pre-requisite.
Moving on to a quick look at Week 1’s plan.
Day 1: 20 minutes walk
Day 2: Rest
Day 3: Resistance and Flexibility. Leads to a detailed workout which includes (moving) diagrams to explain how to do the exercise. There’s a lot of stuff there and a great workout. Core work is included which is a good thing but I would imagine not a pre-requisite.
You’d be amazed at how many ‘Age Group’ international athletes do not do weekly strength and conditioning like this. To avoid doubt: they/you should! And ladies, ‘Resistance’ training will NEVER turn you into a muscle bound hunk. Never! It actually significantly helps you lose weight.
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Walk and jog
Day 6: Resistance and flexibility
Day 7: Rest
So I’m not sure how generic this plan is. It’s linked to my RunKeeper account and I would have hoped it would know that I could manage more than a 20 minute walk on day 1 based on that information. Maybe it just gets steps data and I don’t really track that for myself.
Then again this type of plan is not designed for me, so I would imagine that it assumes you have never done a 5k before and that it takes an assumption of a low level of fitness and tailors THAT assumption to your age and BMI. That would be fair enough, I guess.
Anyway, as you progress through the plan new areas are opened up to you. As I’ve nominally just started the plan you can see, below, that there are some ‘knowledge’ resources I can’t yet read as they are greyed out. This is a neat idea. One more incentive to progress on with the plan whilst knowing that you have got your value-for-money with the £20 plan! On the other hand someone who is initially really keen might want to read as much as they can but be unable to. On balance though, I think the app gets it right here.
I’ve had quite a good look at the daily exercises for all of the 12 weeks. I would say they are good and the exercise plan is comprehensive. More than that…
It ticks all the boxes for what is needed for holistic training at this level.
Some other plans that I’ve seen neglect strength and conditioning, for example. Other plans just focus on the exercise activity and neglect food entirely. Very few plans (including ones on my site) will provide education specifically linked to the plan. So…
It’s all your beginner 5k stuff in one place.
Here is a slideshow showing you some screen shots at different stages of the plan in weeks 6, 11 and 12.
So you can se that there is quite a step up from week 1 to week 6. And a further step up to week 11 where there are some big efforts fairly equivalent to what you will be doing in your first 5k race. Then week 12 tones it all down to give your body chance to recover and be at it’s best for the race.
This IS the correct approach for a beginner 5k.
Thoughts On The Overall Package
It has covered the bases.
Linking activity data collection to other apps is a great idea. I suspect many people won’t want to ditch their existing activity/sports tracking software to move to yet another one. So this particular aspect of the plan is a good idea. Essentially it’s a digital coach that hangs off your digital data.
The details like ‘periodization’ of training are there; rest is appropriately considered and included; tapering is covered; diet and nutrition are covered; detailed gym-like exercises are included and with detailed media resources to help you perform them.
My only concern would be that the app seems to assume one type of beginner runner. There are probably many types of beginner 5k runner who just happen to have never run one…ranging from someone who has been going to classes and the gym for the last 2 years to someone who has been sitting on the couch for the last two years.
- Q: Is it better than ‘Couch to 5k’ – I don’t know I’ve never seen the detail behind that.
- Q: Would you recommend this program? – Yes. It won’t be perfectly tailored to you but it’s probably going to be a vey good fit.
- Q: Did you follow this plan? – No I didn’t.
- Q: Do you have any links to the publisher/developer? – No. I was however paid to write a review. I hope you think it is a balanced view.