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

MNABOY 5/16/2018
This blog stirred a lot of comments Report
IRONADONIS 5/13/2018
Thx. Report
SPUNOUTMOM 5/10/2018
thank you, I just downloaded runkeeper. I will be trying it out tomorrow. I am very excited. I also have map my run. I like seeing the maps on the app. Report
BIKE4HEALTH 5/6/2018
These are great for running. What suggested apps do you recommend for monitoring and planning other athletic activities? Report
THICK611 5/5/2018
I'm going to try the one that helps get you started running your first 5k. Report
RAZZOOZLE 5/3/2018
Thanks Report
LOSER05 5/3/2018
great. Report
JAMER123 5/2/2018
Thank you for the information Report
KHALIA2 5/2/2018
Great info! Thanks! Report
_CYNDY55_ 5/1/2018
Great, Thanks! Report
MNABOY 5/1/2018
Thanks, even though you left out spouse chasing with a cattle prod Report
AALLEY2 5/1/2018
I like the spark people map tracker Report
DLDMIL 5/1/2018
Great information, thank you. Report
KATHLEEN320 5/1/2018
I have Runkeeper and LOVE IT!! Report
JPELCHAT 5/1/2018
This article doesn’t do Runkeeper justice. It does everything that all the other apps said they did. I paid for the premium because I truly believe in the app. But you get so much from the free, plus no ads. It is totally awesome and I recommend it to EVERYONE. Report
7STIGGYMT 5/1/2018
I have Pacer on my smartphone and I like it. Report
KATIE520 5/1/2018
I like Runtastic's "Road Bike" app to track miles, speed, elevation and map my bike rides. It also has a website for more tracking features. Report
LIS193 5/1/2018
Thank you Report
JHADZHIA 5/1/2018
I don't have a Smartphone, but I do have a Nike Tom Tom GPS watch that works great. Sadly it's just been rendered obsolete as Nike no longer supports hardware and has switched to apps for Smartphone use only. I can no longer see my routes or stats as I can't log in, but the watch still keeps track of distance and pace at least. I guess when it dies I will just have my Fitbit. Hopefully that won't be rendered obsolete with a move focused on Smartphones only. I refuse to spend a lot of money on a device I would use very little. I have a pay as you go basic cellphone that is all I need. When I get out in nature, nature is all I want to see and hear. Report
PICKIE98 5/1/2018
Thank you. Report
AZMOMXTWO 5/1/2018
thank you Report
DMEYER4 5/1/2018
TY Report
RO2BENT 5/1/2018
The Garmin connect app that came with my GPS watch works well also Report
NEPTUNE1939 5/1/2018
TY Report
TCANNO 5/1/2018
I like the Garmin best as it keeps everything in one place Report
OVERDUECHANGE 2/27/2018
Zombies, Run! is my favorite. I used to hate running, but a friend turned me on to it. It intersperses a good story, which prompts you to run, with your own playlist from your phone, so you've got time to zone out or thinking about things. Then you pick up virtual supplies on your runs and build a little base in the app. I'm not even into zombies, and I love the app because the story is so engaging and well done. Report
JPELCHAT 10/9/2017
I love run keeper and use the free app but I am thinking of upgrading and I don’t upgrade anything Report
CORALLA
In my opinion the most powerful and useful app is Runkeeper
https:// www.cleveroad.com/blog/smart-fitnes
s--how-to-build-a-runkeeper-app-and
-become-the-market-leader

Here's really good article about it and it's competitors Report
Nike+ is free now, and absolutely awesome. It keeps me motivated and challenged. Shows my pace, calories burned, time and distance, as well as averages for my daily walk/run. It also does not eat up your cell phone minutes. It seems very accurate, even with my treadmill runs. I know it used to be 1.99. They also have great customer service. Very helpful. They are trying to fix the glitch ti get me my first 25 miles trophy. A lot of work to hire phone staff for a completely free app.vit keeps track of all your runs, overall states, and averages. You have the option of having music turned on or off, and of setting your weight so calories burned is accurate. I can't imagine a scenario where I wouldn't use it or recommend it to others. Report
I like the Nike+ app myself especially since it syncs with my gym equipment Report
I also use the iMapMyFitness/(Walk) app - and when I am saving, it allows me to select other choices - running, biking, hiking etc. I originally got the free version, but had some issues with it and in working with the developer, they couldn't get it to work properly either, and they ended up just upgrading me to the "iMapMyWalk+" model, which I think is around $1.99 or so, plus tax. (I'm not real clear on the difference between the free apps and the "Plus/+" apps which charge more, other than slightly crippled so that the performance is somewhat dicey until you buy the one that costs extra - but in my case, I was upgraded by them several years ago. It's worked much better, even in low GPS penetration situations (extremely cloudy weather which we get a lot of, either with rain or snow), especially after I upgraded from 3G to the 4s iPhone. It's also a lot better integrated with playing music on the iPod on my phone as well. But I'm still toying with the idea of buying one of the Garmin Forerunners - trying to sort through all of their features (I need one with vibration alerts because I can't hear regular watch alerts - too soft/high pitch).

Oh the voice prompts - I have a funny story on that... I toggled that on in my iMapMyWalk+ app - where it would allegedly announce the time, how far I had run, whatever. Well, I took off and promptly forgot what I had done. Then I began "hearing voices" - it would chatter for a bit and then stop, and I had absolutely NO clue what it was saying. I always seemed to be near a street light whenever I heard the voices, so I was thinking the power company had put some kind of sensor on the light pole (why? maybe because they were paranoid about all the copper wire thefts going on?? I dunno why I thought that!). So this went on for several days or nights, whenever I went walking, the poles were "talking" to me... I even approached other walkers and said "do you hear those voices?" and oh, um, no, they hadn't heard anything, sorry (I'm sure they thought I was crazier than a loon!). FINALLY I was looking through the app and looking at the various settings and saw the voice thing, where it was annoucing time and stuff, and lo and behold, it started talking again! Right before my eyes! And sure enough, they stopped abruptly when I switched the toggle to "off". Then I went back on, and got the voice to come back on. Unfortunately it's a robot and just not quite lip-readable enough for me to understand what it is actually saying... but it's just "voice-like" enough for me to recognize it sounds like people talking (the way ALL voices sound, like at a restaurant, just background chatter and noise and I can't understand any one conversation unless I'm lipreading the person!!). *sigh*.

The crazy mental life of being deaf.... fun fun fun!
Report
MARCEL91
I haven't tried running log yet, but the others I've tried and they are all good. I actually think runmeter is the best of the bunch Report
A couple of iPhone apps I can no longer live without:

Nike+ GPS- it's everything you said it is, I track every run with it, worth every penny!

The lolo BeatBurn series: there is one for elliptical and one for running which can be used indoor/outdoor. Also might be a biking one but I'm not sure. These apps have workout programs that are custom fit to your body type and ability and each workout progresses and changes to continue to challenge you so you don't get bored and more importantly you don't plateau! There are motivating voice cues throughout that you can turn off but I found these to be really helpful. The workouts are intense (if you want them to be) and burn so many more calories than a regular workout. BUT the other major cool thing about these apps is they have a beat sync technology so you can input songs from your iPod into their playlist and they will change the beats per minute to match the tempo of the workout and keep you pumped. They also have their own music if you don't want to add your own songs. I can't say enough about these apps!!! They are a little pricey but WELL worth it- it will change the way you look at an elliptical machine or treadmill. I have also used the elliptical app with an Arc Trainer with the same results. You also have the ability to log your workouts and share to Facebook and twitter.
Lolo Ultimate 5K/10K: the same company developed these apps as the BeatBurn series. I swear I am not getting paid, this company just knows what they're doing! These are training apps for either 5K/10K whether you're a beginner or working on a better time. Marathoner Jeff Galoway is behind these apps and he is the voice and coach throughout. I just started using the 10K and absolutely love it. As far as tracking and stats they leave nothing out. You can also download additional coaching/motivational audio and music but once again you can add your own as well. I find the audio cues to be a total game changer and really push me further! This is basically like having a running trainer behind you telling you what to do next and how to improve every step of the way. If youre like me and need the extra guidance and motivation these apps are for you.
Again, can't say enough---All the Lolo apps are worth every penny! Try them out!! Report
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
JWELL2011
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
 
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