Which is the best running app for me?

With the advent of smartphones came the running app. Over the years, different apps have come along offering an array of features. Whether you are a seasoned runner or a newbie, a running app can be extremely useful in your training. Read on to find out which is the best running app for you.

What is a Running App?

Running applications are downloaded to your phone and keep track of your physical activity. Similar to a fitness tracker, these apps generally record your distance, time, and route of your runs. Over time, you can look back at your activity to see how you’ve improved.

Some running apps are simpler than others, offering basic information about your workouts like pace, speed, distance, time, and history. Most give you the option to record workouts other than running like cycling, hiking, and walking for the most accurate statistics. Some apps have the option to share your workouts with your social media accounts. Some other features available with different apps include:

  • Audio stats
  • Training plans
  • Shoe mileage counters
  • Interactive challenges
  • Newsfeed
  • Upcoming racing events
  • Discounts on running gear
  • Social connections

How do you use a Running App?

The best running apps are generally very easy to use. You simply pull it up on your phone when you are ready to begin your run. You will find a start, record, or begin button to tap, and then you proceed with your workout. Some apps can be configured to play your favorite tunes when your workout begins, while others can tell you your stats every few minutes.

Most apps can be customized for your preferences. For example, you can record your mileage in kilometers if you would rather. You can choose to run for a length of time or a certain distance. Each workout is saved in your log so you can compare your results later. This gives you a good idea of your progress whether you’re just starting out or training for an ultra-run.

How do you Find the Right Running App?

The best running app for each individual is going to be vastly different and dependent upon what features are most important to each person. Some apps have training plans that can be personalized to the individual. Other apps turn your workouts into games where you have to outrun dinosaurs and zombies.

We have done our research on the best running apps out there to help you decide which one might work for you. The best part is that most are free-running apps! Read on for more details about the best apps to help keep you motivated and accountable with your running.

The Best Running Apps

Nike Run Club (NRC)

Best App for Newbies and Seasoned Runners who want all the Features in one App

The NRC app has a plethora of features that make it one of the best running apps for beginners and seasoned runners alike. It is a free app with in-app purchases.

Start your very first run with a trainer guiding you through an easy 23-minute jog while giving valuable pointers. Or, start out on your own running for a duration or distance. Some key features we love about the Nike Run Club app include:

  • Color-coded advancement levels for reaching mileage milestones
  • Local events and running clubs directory
  • Personalized running plans and guided runs with a professional running coach
  • Shoe mileage tracker
  • Exclusive access to new Nike running gear at Nike stores

Zombies Run

Best App for Runners Prepping for the Zombie Apocalypse

The Zombies Run app is great for those who want to run, but don’t particularly like to run. Instead of setting out on guided training sessions, this app turns each run into a part of a game. Help to rebuild civilization while you get healthier. You can run to real-world locations in your neighborhood to collect clues or add supplies to your arsenal for the zombie apocalypse.

Though the main purpose of this app is to have a good time while getting into shape, you can find links for useful training plans and virtual races. It is a free app that contains in-app purchases to subscribe for more advanced features. The features we love about the Zombies Run app include:

  • Home workouts included
  • Unique challenges including:
    • Dinosaur Dash
    • Journey to the Center of the Eye
    • Run with the Ancestors
  • Access to the Zombies Run Shop

RunKeeper

Best App for Those Runners who Like to Keep it Simple

Opening the RunKeeper app takes you directly to a map of your current location. You can choose to record a variety of activities including cycling, running, walking, hiking, skiing, rowing and more. If you are ready to begin your run, simply press the start button and head out. You can turn on audio stats to be notified of your speed, distance, and pace at certain times or distances.

Because of its easy-to-use interface, RunKeeper is one of our top running apps for beginners. It is another free app with the option to subscribe to additional features like personal training plans. A few other features we love about the RunKeeper app include:

  • Simple challenges to keep new runners motivated
  • Compare stats like distance, pace and duration weekly, monthly or yearly
  • Add friends to follow each other’s progress

Strava

Best App for Keeping Accountable in Your Running Club

Strava is another free running app that is unique in that it is geared around your personal running club. If you don’t belong to a local club, you can find one to join or just run on your own. Strava is the single running app that will record almost any sport you can imagine. Kitesurfing session today, anyone?

Like the RunKeeper app, Strava has a simple user interface making it ideal for those who just want to get out there and run, kitesurf, paddleboard, or alpine ski. It offers a news feed with other local club member’s progress which can be motivating. Other features of Strava that we love include:

  • Easy to use
  • Keep up with other running club members
  • Easy challenges
  • Personalized route selections

Map My Run by Under Armour

Best App for Runners who Incorporate Diet and Strength Training in their Running

Like the Nike Running Club, the Map My Run app by Under Armour offers all the bells and whistles. The original start screen is easy to use, which is ideal for beginning runners. Seasoned runners will be motivated by workout postings from other app users in the news feed.

You can live track friends on the app, record your meal plans, and log strength workouts all within the app. Create your own running routes or use routes others have previously created. Training plans are available with a subscription. A few of the other features we love about Map My Run include:

  • Shoe mileage tracker
  • Create workout routines
  • Connect to specialized Under Armour footwear and other devices for accurate statistics
  • Set personal goals
  • Discounts on Under Armour gear through the app

Best App for Beginning Runners

C25K

The C25K, or Couch to 5K, is aimed at beginning runners to help them get off the couch and out on the road/treadmill/track. It is an eight-week program that uses interval training to prepare you to run your first 5K.

Each day’s work outlasts between 25-40 minutes and is detailed in timed increments. For example, you might walk briskly the first five minutes, jog for 90 seconds, and alternate between walking and jogging for a total of 20 more minutes. The best part is that the voice prompts will alert you to when it is time to switch up. Some of the features we love about C25K include:

  • Community of like-minded beginning runners
  • Voice prompts
  • Easy, three-day weekly program for new runners

Running Apps: Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are tons of free-running apps designed for a variety of runners. Anyone of the running apps in this article can make a useful tool in helping you achieve your goals depending on where you are in your training. Choosing the best running app for you boils down to the features you find most useful and most important.

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