Vary your routine - with Routine Timer

My wife likes to run early in the morning, but her running routine alternates ten minutes of running with a one-minute walk-break. If you're out there in the darkness of pre-dawn, how do you figure out when to go from one to the other?

With your iPhone, of course! 

Nancy wasn't happy with the simple timer included as one of the base apps, though it's served me well as a one-time alarm. So she searched the App Store and found Routine Timer (Practiphone LLC, $2.99 limited time price they say).

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

With this app, she starts with a walk of five minutes, just to get the blood going. When it's time to run, she's got a metal gong sounding.

After ten minutes of running, the next alarm sounds: a rooster crowing. That's the one she can hear best when she's pounding the pavement. Another one minute walk-break, and at the sound of the gong, she's off running again. This pattern repeats itself.

However, at the final walk-break she hears a chime flourish and she knows it's time to head for home. One more rooster crow, and she's walking the rest of the way back for a cool-down segment.

Without going into the wisdom of carrying an expensive and coveted device like this in the deserted darkness of quiet village streets, the app has helped her forget about time and concentrate on the exercise. And because she doesn't need to look at the phone while running, she can enjoy watching various critters crossing the street as the sun rises.

One question we don't have an answer to: how many people are awakened at 5:30 am by that darn rooster?

The Routine Timer allows you to set up a number of different workouts, including golf practice, which I found interesting. Having your iPhone tell you when it's time to stop putting and head on over to the practice bunker is almost like having a coach or a caddie.

Of course, all of these settings are completely editable, so if I want to signal the end of chipping practice with a cymbal crash or even a Tiger's roar, I bet that can be arranged.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.