7 Best Running Apps to Keep You Moving

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There was a time when all runners needed was a pair of good athletic shoes, some comfortable clothes and the motivation to move. Technically, that’s still true—but in our high-tech, info-heavy, wearable-friendly world, most modern runners also set out with some sort of gadget on their wrist, arm or waist. While fitness trackers and smartwatches are growing in popularity, the smartphone is still the most popular course companion.
 
While some smartphones can be a bit bulky to hold, there are plenty of convenient and comfortable carrying options. You can slide your phone into a FlipBelt that is worn securely around the waist, place it in an arm strap holder or zip it into a jacket or vest pocket. And if you use Bluetooth headphones, you won’t need to wrestle with annoying wires as you run.
 
In addition to the safety perk of being able to make a phone call in case of emergency, another great benefit of bringing along a smartphone is the abundance of apps that are available to tech-savvy runners. While a basic fitness watch with GPS can track your time, pace and distance, there are some super-sophisticated iOS and Android apps that can dig way deeper into your stats. Whether you’d like a personalized training plan, custom running routes or fun interactions to keep you engaged for every mile, there’s sure to be an app for that.
 
Best of all? There are plenty of quality apps that are either super-cheap or completely free.

C25K (Couch to 5K)

($2.99, iOS and Android)
 
Quite possibly the best app for beginners, Couch-to-5K has earned a solid reputation for turning walkers into runners. Designed for people who have never run before, it guides users through an eight-week program that is 30 minutes a day, three days a week. It starts with an easy mix of walking and running, gradually increasing the running stints up to a full 5K run. Built-in music, audio coach alerts and tracked stats keep you motivated.
 
Runner Review: “I started as a couch potato and just finished my last workout and I'm still on my feet. Who would have thought it possible? I recommend this to everyone, especially those non-runners with no experience and little fitness.”

Runkeeper

Free; iOS and Android
 
There’s a reason it’s the most well-known and popular app among runners. Runkeeper is super intuitive and easy to use, hooking into your smartphone’s GPS functionality to track your distance, pace, calories burned and total run time. Between runs, you can also use it for walking, hiking, biking, group fitness and more. Training for a specific event? The app includes a range of training programs, along with prompts and challenges to help you meet your goals. You can also save your runs to track your progress over time. At zero dollars, this one’s a no-brainer.
 
Runner Review: “This app is simple and fun to use. It spurs me to run even when I'm dragging my heels. I like the training options, and, it seems to run smoothly without using up too much battery. I like that it calls out my minutes, mileage, and average speed every five minutes, and gives me a map of my run afterwards.”

Strava

Free, iOS and Android
 
Designed for mapping and monitoring runs, swims and bike rides, Strava turns your phone into a robust fitness tracking tool. It tracks distance, location, pace and other key stats, and also has a feature that lets you compete with other runners and create virtual teams. Upload your favorite routes, or explore the app’s network of roads and trails. The premium paid version offers training programs for specific race distances.
 
Runner Review: “Excellent app, does exactly what you need it to, and accurately. Wealth of information and stats easily available.”

Weav Run

Free, iOS
 
Music is one of the best ways to amp up your motivation to pound the pavement. Enter Weav Run. This groovin’ app matches your running pace with pop songs at a certain tempo, so you can run with the beat. This helps you achieve a steadier stride, improves your cadence and increases the likelihood that you’ll find the motivation to get out there and move.
 
Runner Review: “I've been begging for this kind of thing for years. I have 130 different playlists trying [to] emulate this effect. This one, however, is amazing. Great music, great function, [and] able to set the tempo without fouling up the sound.”

Nike+ Run Club

Free, iOS and Android
 
If it’s sponsored by Nike, it’s gotta be good, right? In this case, it’s true. This sleek app tracks and stores the pace, distance, route, elevation, heart rate and mile splits for all of your runs, so you can drill down into the nitty-gritty details. Audio guided runs with Nike coaches and playlists keep you motivated along grueling routes, while fun badges and rewards commemorate your achievements. Use personalized training plans, connect with other runners virtually and share your completed runs with friends.
 
Runner Review: “This app is fantastic for running training if you're ready to put in the work. You can't cheat and use a treadmill. You have to challenge yourself to get out there and run. I have considered myself a fit individual for most of my life but never was I a great runner. I still struggle sometimes to motivate myself when it comes to cardio, which is why I enjoyed this app because it helps give you a plan and holds you accountable. If you're ready to put in the work and just need an extra bit of guidance to get you going, this is a great app for you.”

Map My Run

Free, iOS and Android
 
Sick of the same old running routes? Map My Run by Under Armour lets you chart exciting new courses, get stats of your runs and save them to monitor your progress. It’s great for discovering hidden routes in your own city or while traveling. For each run, you’ll get verbal updates of your distance, pace, calories burned and elevation. We also love the built-in Gear Tracker, which notifies you when it’s time for a new pair of running shoes. You can also use the app to log walks, hikes, bike rides, yoga, gym sessions and more. Syncs with all of the latest wearables and apps.
 
Runner Review: “I like to keep track of my running mileage and pace. It helps motivate me since I've aged (now 74) and I'm mostly running alone. Also, I moved across town recently and the app gives me a map and keeps track of my distance so I can explore and go in a different direction every day. The best recent change is that it stops when I stop. Now even if I forget to turn it off, it patiently waits without racking up more time.”

RaceRunner

Free, iOS and Android
 
Tired of running alone? Indulge your competitive side by competing in virtual races with other runners, whether they’re across town or on the other side of the world. As you go, you can monitor your position and progress among the other runners. Start your own race and invite friends, or join other races already in progress. Not in the mood to compete? Choose the free running mode to track basic stats like pace, distance and calories burned.
 
Runner Review: “I can run and compete with my friends online. It makes me motivated…running alone is no longer boring. Great app with unique features. Simple to use and seems to be very accurate.”
 
Having an app at your fingertips is almost like having a virtual running coach in your pocket. And because most of these types of apps use GPS technology, it eliminates the need to spend money on a pricey GPS device. Armed with just a fully charged smartphone, you can step up your running game and push yourself to outperform yesterday’s run.
 
Do you own a smartphone? If so, would any of these apps be of interest to you? Are there any other running apps you would recommend?

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Comments

I have the iPhone 4, but as yet, don't know how to get all these things that you can get for it. Can anyone help me, in layman terms??? 57 here, but trying to keep up with new technology,lol. Fabulous phone, mind you. I love the camera. Report
HOTMESSRISING
I am considering an iPhone as my next phone. I love the Nike+ system. i have the iPod version with the thing in my shoe. This app would be awesome, because with the iPhone app I would be able to buy whatever shoes I want, and I would only have to take one device with me when I run, not my cell phone AND my iPod. Report
I have an Android phone, I use the imapmyride & imapmyrun software on it, I also downloaded a separate hr monitor program onto it. I think that when budget allows I'd rather invest in something that is a separate piece of equipment, than use the phone. I'm fascinated by the idea of something like the body bug, but budget is a big deal when every time the gov cuts spending to education one more person disappears from work. Pretty soon it will be my turn. Report
ALEXANDRA64
Seriously? If you walk, I highly recommend the "Walkmeter". I use it every day for my walks. It maps out your route as you walk, gives you pace, average pace, time, distance and so forth. It also has a calendar section so you can look back at your walking history and see what you have done. I tried others but this is the best so far.

You can also stop and restart. I and my neighbor will walk to the coffee shop in town, stay awhile, then walk home. I can stop the app while there then restart so I get my total for the whole walk there and back. Report
I love the Nike one, I've been using it since it came out and it's never failed me. You can use indoor or out, makes it easy to keep track of how far you walk during your work day too. Report
Do these apps work on Ipods as well ad the phones? Report
Handy Runner is a droid app sponsored by the site RunningAhead.com. It records time, route, and distance, works with the phone's gps, and allows you to listen to your own music while it runs in the background. I love it. Oh, and it's FREE. :-) Report
I use an Android phone, not iPhone, and love RunKeeper Pro. It was advertised as free through January, and I still got it at no charge on February 14. I like to be able to log my cardio with some idea of my pace, even though it may not be fast!

The RunKeeper website is neat, too, as phone transfers runs to the website (if you register) and you can view your route in Google maps, with a graph underneath that you can mouse over to see pace or elevation). Kind of fun! Report
GAARAMA
Not a runner,yet but I think the treadmill app looks inviting. Report
I usually use MapMRun, but have been considering the Nike+ app. I like the Nike+ website to log my runs, I've used it with the chip and wristband. Thanks to your blog, I'm going to give the Nike+ app a try! Report
I use the free version if iMapMyRun on my Blackberry. It uses the GPS locator on my phone to map where I walk or run and calculate my mph. There is also an Andriod version and an iPhone version of the application. Report
my bff has that and loves it Report
I guess I just don't feel the need to be that worried about pace or distance when I exercise (but then, I don't compete, either). And I still prefer to pay my own attention rather than be told when/what to do something. The techno-world is passing me by, and I wave at it, happy both for those who enjoy it and for me, knowing I don't need most of it.
I know, I know, I'm in the minority, but the question asked "Do you own an Iphone?" and so "no" has to be a reasonable answer, too! Report
I have the Nike+GPS and love it! Report
SMCCULLE
runkeeper is great! Report
I use Smart Runner on my Palm. But GPS on Palm is horrible, rendering the app basically useless. :( Would love it otherwise. At least I can rack accurate times on pre-mapped routes. Report
www.logyourrun.com

The app is free. Runs and routes are uploaded to the web with the touch of a button. "FREE" Report
ZUMBAWITHTASHA
I use the 4g mytouch for everything Report
I use the Nike Plus GPS. LOVE IT! I like when people can cheer you on while you run from Facebook. Report
CIRANDELLA
MUSTS for my brand-new HemorrDroid! It's been a pain in the butt so far, though. Report
I have an android phone, and I don't use it for my workouts, I use a good old fashioned pedometer to track my time, steps, speed, etc.! Report
When I FINALLY get into the SmartPhone age, I'm planning to download an app for running since I don't own a Garmin. I'm working on convincing my husband to let us jettison our ancient Motorola Razors sometime this summer :) Report
I have an Android, as I refuse to join the i-anything culture. I use CardioTrainer, which is pretty good. I haven't tried any of the other programs, though, so I am kind of biased to that one app. :-) Report
I used the "Interval Run" app on my iPod Touch quite a bit when I was starting out; it was very easy to program in my own intervals in addition to the ones provided, and worked like a charm. They've recently upgraded it for iOS4 to run in the background, but I've not used it since then. Report
I use the Nike+GPS and I love it. The only complaint I have is that I also use the regular Nike+ for my iPod and I get different running paces on the iPhone vs. my iPod - I'm a pretty consistent runner so I'm not sure which one is right. I would definitely like to check out an app that can track cycling as well so I might check out that Run Tracker Pro. Thanks! Report
I have a Nokia 5800 which came with a sports tracker - it's brilliant and was free.
I do still run with my garmin / hr monitor depending on whether I'm outdoors or on the treadmill but if I forget I have my phone Report
SP_COACH_NANCY
KJT1985,

You are right, there are many apps available for the Droid and Blackberry, however, I own a iPhone and therefore this was the only device I could test the apps out on. However, I am sure there are similar apps out there for you to use. THANKS for the reminder!

Nancy Report
Apps aren't just for iphones, there's so many other smarphones on the market and android has just as many - how about we talk about those too?! Android has RunKeeper pro for free, there's a HIIT treadmill assistant app for $1.99, Walk It! Lite for free, GPS walk and run tracker for free, SportsTracker Pro for $9.70, Running Tracker for free and lots more. No Nike app yet though...

Just want people to be aware that you don't need an iphone to access these cool tools! Report
RunKeeper Pro is my go to running app. And now they are giving it away for free. I paid $9.99 for it a while back. I would pay for it again if I had to. Love it. Report
I don't use any of these apps, but I used the C25K app when I first started running, which was an awesome tool to use and the updates since have made it even better. Now that I run further distances I use the Runkeeper app religiously. It does most of the same things as the Nike app (based on your review), and also allows you to interact online with a "Street Team." You can also set coaching so if you have a specific interval training to do, you can have it give you audio cues according to that day's training session. You can also play your itunes playlists with it as you run. I started with the "Lite" version but then upgraded to the Pro, which I have felt was worth the investment. Report
Very interesting. I do not have an iPhone but I do have an Android phone. Do you know if these apps are available for Android as well? Report
Sounds pretty interesting....I do tend to try the free/LITE versions whenever possible to see if:
a) it is a workable/funcational option
b) it is not beyond my techno capabilities
c) how easy is it to use (i.e., passwords/multiple steps to program/etc)

That being said, the running log would be the most appealing. At the moment I have several programs that I am trying on my iPhone, notably:
5K Coach; Run Coach; 321 Run; Run Keeper; and iMapMy____(Fitness/HIke), as well as aSportsTracker.
Not currently using any of them frequently enough to know which I like best yet, but working on it.... Report