I tried a free 2-week trial of RockMyRun, a fitness music app that adjusts its playlists to sync with your run cadence — here's what it was like

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  • Running with music can be a highly motivating experience but listening to the same music time and again can be repetitive.
  • RockMyRun intends to change up the audio you turn to while running by offering curated playlists across a variety of music genres like hip hop, country, and, of course, rock.
  • I tried RockMyRun's free two-week trial to see if it could make me actually look forward to listening to music while I ran.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks, right? When it comes to running and music, that was my thinking. With the exception of the Charge Running app, I've never used music while running, and that's after two decades of hitting the roads.

I prefer the quiet sounds of nature and letting my thoughts flow with my feet. But in the midst of a pandemic, I'm game to shake things up, so it was with this somewhat open mind that I gave the RockMyRun app a try.Advertisement

RockMyRun bills itself as the only running slash workout app that customizes itself to your personal preferences and usage patterns. It combines input from DJs, coaches, and runners for playlist designs to fit just about any type of workout.

Using AI, the app "gets you moving how you like to move," company CEO, Bill Donohoe, told Business Insider. "It adjusts as you use it, even on the fly."

Created in 2011, RockMyRun is available on a subscription basis, either monthly or annually, following a two-week free trial. The trial seems to be a solid selling point for the company, as it reports that 80 percent of users who try it become paid subscribers.
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Numbers have even been good throughout the pandemic, said Donohoe, and in a recent two-week period, the number of premium users grew by roughly 2,000. At just $7.99 per month or $79 for the entire year, it's an inexpensive way to boost your daily runs.

The RockMyRun experience

When you download the app, the first step is to create a profile, starting by identifying the type of music you prefer. Genres include hip hop, rock, country, and Latin, among many others. You can also dial in by decade, from oldies to 70s, 80s, or 90s. There are even a seasonal option and a mashup selection for those who like a wide variety. Your next step is to pick an activity. While the app is called RockMyRun, it's designed for a wide range of users, from walking and cycling to group fitness classes, elliptical workouts, and weight training. I picked both running and weights, especially since I'm much more inclined to use music while doing a strength session than I am running.Advertisement

Some pacing issues

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Because I selected running, I had to identify my running pace on the next screen so the app could sync the music tempo to my body — this is where I felt the app came up short.

Choices were limited to "cruzin,'" which was a 15-minute per mile pace; "rockin,'" a 12-minute mile pace; or "flyin,'" an 8-minute mile pace. I tend to run my easy miles in the range of about a 9-minute pace, so I didn't quite fit to the options, and I suspect this applies to many other runners as well, be it those who run in the 9 to 10-minute range, or even runners who clock sub-8. Advertisement

Each of the pace choices aligns with playlists designed to match your running cadence. For the uninitiated, most coaches and experts agree that a range of about 170 to 180 steps per minute is an efficient cadence. Not everyone can hit that range and it gets more difficult to achieve it the slower you run. But, there's research tying music with corresponding beats per minute to run cadence, which is what RockMyRun aims to do with its pace identification.

Plenty of variety

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Once you've been through the preference screens, you can start using the app. Here RockMyRun offers up a huge variety of options and stations. There's a "latest" category, which currently includes "tropical heat," "crunch time" for core work, and a pride station designed by American DJ, Dave Aude.Advertisement

There's also a category of top-rated stations if you want to see what's helping others get through their workouts. Stations included "Divas of the 70s," "Rise and Conquer," and a 170-beat per minute 80s 10k playlist.

Users have the option for selecting a discover music playlist before starting a workout, which comes with a wide variety of filters to refine your tastes and the songs the app suggests to you. There's plenty of app-suggested stations, too, which worked well to turning me on to unique new playlists.

Metric tracking and adapting 77089179

As with many apps, RockMyRun allows you to track your workouts by syncing your phone for distance run, total steps taken, and steps per minute. It also syncs to your heart rate monitor if you have one and want to use that metric. Advertisement

"What's nice is that the app can take your goals and pick music to help motivate you to achieve them," Donohoe said. "On the flip side, if you're running slower than your desired pace, the app adjusts your beats per minute downward. It's not motivating to miss your goal, so the app meets you where you are."

There's also the option to override the adjustments and do it manually. I used the app for the two-week trial on both shorter and longer runs, and the occasional run with a few pickups in pace to see if it indeed adjusted to my speed changes. I found it was pretty accurate to my cadence and pace and could sense when it picked up or slowed down the beats per minute.

A few drawbacks

I liked the playlists it chose for me, but I had a couple of runs where it simply stopped mid-way through. This is a bug several users mention in reviews, as well, so it looks like I'm not alone in this. Advertisement

I also don't feel that it turned me on to any new music, but that may be that I chose preferences in line with my usual choices. I have a wide and eclectic taste in music, which may have also played a role.

The bottom line

Donohe says that the app is proving to be fairly sticky, meaning that once people get going with it, they're not likely to give it up. For me, even with the bells and whistles, however, it's not sticking. I still prefer a music-free experience, even when the tunes match up to my body in (nearly) perfect harmony.

  • Should you buy it? If you like running with music, then yes. It's fun to see the way the music changes based on your running pace and if you often listen to just one genre, it's a good way to expand what you listen to while running. For runners (like me) who don't prefer running with music, there may not be enough to make you want to stick with it long term.
  • What are your alternatives? Apps like Charge Running or Aaptiv use music and/or coaching to motivate people on their runs, and offer a different experience than RockMyRun. If it's coaching you seek, try Charge Running, if it's a different kind of audio experience, Aaptiv is for you.
Pros: Music-based running that can motivate those who like to keep the tunes on while hitting the pavement, offers adaptive workouts and metric tracking, $7.99 per month is an attractive priceAdvertisement

Cons: Not enticing for anyone who doesn't like listening to music while running

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