It used to be that all you needed for running was properly chosen clothing, a good pair of running shoes and perhaps a water bottle. Today there are plenty of other tools available to enhance the enjoyment including bringing along music and using GPS to track one’s route and performance. The following ten apps are very popular with runners for a variety of reasons. While most top ten lists are chosen based on popularity due to web traffic counts, it is a different matter to rate apps because not all apps have a website and even if they do it is likely runners won’t have found it by that or even visit the website at all. It is also difficult to list a direct website for an app that may only be found through an app store. So this list is set up a bit differently with links to app stores and developer sites when available. The order of the apps is shown by popularity based on an interpretation of comments made by users and scoring when available. When it comes right down to it the importance of this list is that all apps offered have value and it is up to the runner to decide which works best for their device and running lifestyle. Have fun and happy running!
More than just a running app RunKeeper by FitnessKeeper Inc is like having a personal trainer as it uses incredible technology to track runs, walks, bike rides, hikes and more so it can be used by outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. They claim there are 20 million people currently using the app and with nearly a 5 star rating on iTunes and Google Play it qualifies for first place on this list. About the only complaint seen in the reviews is that extra training courses are not included in the elite membership which is $4.99 per month or $19.99 for the year. There are plenty of features to use even without a membership so you can get accustomed to the app before deciding whether you want to pay for more. The app does everything you would want including tracking activities, keeping a history of stats and tracking goals. You can even integrate your data with 70 other apps and posts your info to social networks.
2) Get Running (Couch to 5k)
The premise of this app is to do what it says – to get you up off the couch and over the course of nine weeks increase your endurance. It is a great app for beginners that know they want to become more active but need some helpful motivation to get them there. The comments on the app often go into what a life changer this app was for them so it can be reasonably assumed that it does what it claims. The human voice coach is a nice touch of this app. The running plan is not so regimented that you cannot work it into your schedule which helps to avoid that excuse. Just three workouts a week is something everyone should be able to accomplish. Not a free app but with a low one-time cost it is an inexpensive option for someone just starting out with running.
3) Nike+ Running
Nike has long been a brand runners trust for great running shoes so it stands to reason they would take that same level of design ability into their running app. Runners who don’t need or want a bunch of bells and whistles to deal with like the simplicity of the Nike running app. The majority of users have rated the app with 4 or 5 stars. A nice feature of the app is Nike+ Challenges which allows you to team up with friends to motivate one another. The ability to earn badges and achievements is another motivational tool. The app’s features include GPS, pace tracker, timer, calories, pedometer, music player and the ability to share to social networks. Information on runs is uploaded to nikeplus.com as well.
Although running is often done by individuals that doesn’t mean runners don’t enjoy social involvement and Endomondo is one of the best apps for those that desire a social intensive running app. It does all the things other running apps do but with a few more tweaks that make it a lot of fun. First of all runners can connect with friends who live in their neighborhood or city. The ability to send pep talks to each other and share information about routes and times adds not only friendship to the mix but also a competitive edge. Users can follow already designated routes or create new ones. The app tracks such things as distance, speed and hydration. If you are a runner looking for a feature packed app with a great social component then this is the app for you.
5) Zombies, Run! 2 or Zombies, Run! 5k Training
Nothing quite satisfies like fulfilling two favorite pastimes with one app – running and game adventure! Zombies, Run! has two apps to please runners that love a good game. One is their standard version currently on version 2 and the other is their 5k training version. The 5k version is an 8 week structured training course mixed with an attention-grabbing story. There are audio instructions at every step to keep your training on track. The regular version is interval training like you’ve never seen it before. Whether you do your running outdoors or indoors you can have a blast with over 60 missions designed to get your heart rate up in more ways than one. What better way to encourage you to run faster than to simulate being chased by zombies! Additional missions can be added at modest prices along with sidequests to keep it interesting. As long as you don’t mind your stats being gauged in supplies gathered and missions met rather than the usual runner stats then this is the app for you. It’s a great app for getting motivated as you struggle to survive brain eating zombies! With over 450,000 players worldwide it is obviously a very popular running app.
6) MapMyRun GPS Running
The company MapMyFitness has plenty of apps for outdoor enthusiasts including MapMyRun, MapMyWalk and MapMyRide with all of them being popular with users. One of the things that makes this app a bit different than other apps is that besides the usual features of route and activity tracking users can also log their food intake. This allows a runner to have the potential to see how what they are eating could be influencing their running stats. The app is also able to advise on just how many calories should be consumed and how much hydration is needed. Users can purchase a 1 month membership or a 1 year membership of the app. This app enjoys a near 5 star rating by users.
7) Runtastic Running
The developer, Runtastic, has a great line of apps for outdoor enthusiasts including Running, Pedometer, Road Bike, Mountain Bike, Walktastic, Wintersports, Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and more. Probably the greatest variety of any developer currently out there. There is also a PRO version of Runtastic Running in which extra features included will depend on the device being used as not all PRO features are available on all devices. Most users have rated this app either 4 or 5 stars. The app is flexible enough to be useful for beginners and seasoned runners thus it is a great app to begin with and continue using. There are additional training programs that can be purchased in-app to further advance. A nice feature is the ability to manually enter other workouts like spinning and weight lifting.
Android: not currently available
Strictly an app for the iPhone this application requires no monthly subscription and has no ads making it great for iPhone users. This doesn’t mean you won’t spend any money on this one because there are plenty of in-app purchase options including numerous voice options and a PRO upgrade. Solid five star ratings by users would push this higher up in the list if it was also available for Android devices. This developer appears to be very aggressive at improving the app regularly as well with 9 major releases and 40 update releases thus far. While this may be annoying to those that hate spending time upgrading apps it is a great indication that the developers are really listening to users and giving them what they want. Other apps by Abvio Inc. are Cyclemeter, Walkmeter and 5k Runmeter so whatever gets you outdoors there is an app to track your activity.
9) Strava Run
Strava currently has just two apps – Run and Cycling which means those that do other things as well will have to look to other developers to finish up their workout app package. A nice feature of this app is the use of Leaderboards so you can set personal records and join monthly challenges to compete with friends, local people and even pros. The downside of this app is that the membership fees are considerably higher than other apps although they do offer a 1 month membership so you can invest a small amount to see what you think before going to the annual membership. There are also plenty of premium features available through in-app purchasing although some comments indicate that some of the premium features should be available on the free version.
10) Personal Running Trainer
This app works a little differently because instead of just tracking what you accomplish you set the goal at the beginning and the app guides you along to meet that goal – whether 1 mile, 5k, 10k, half-marathon or full marathon. It can also be used just to track for those days you just want your route mapped and workout data recorded. The app includes the first workout in 5 levels of training programs so users can gauge where they are in the process before purchasing additional training programs. The various levels take a runner from basic beginning to build up to 1 mile all the way to marathon training making it a great app for all stages. The cost of each training section can add up which is the main reason why this app makes number ten on the list. One can also purchase all the training at once though at quite a savings so this is the way to go for budget minded runners.
Some of the apps have a free feature to try them out before you get into paying for a pro version or additional training. Start with these to get a feel for what running apps are all about if you are not familiar with them. As with most truly useful apps you won’t get the full experience without paying at least some sort of membership so plan on that probably being the case with a great running app. All running apps use GPS and that is going to use a pretty good amount of battery life during a run so plan to have a full battery at the beginning of each training session or run.