There are so many different running apps out there to help you track your runs and have successful training sessions! But I know from experience that it can be difficult to pick between them all. Now, I have my own favorite go-to app. But I thought I would gather up a list of the best free running apps because not all runners are the same. We all have different styles, likes, and dislikes when it comes to running, right? So, read through this list and try the app that has the features that appeal to you most and align closest with your running goals.
Why I love running apps:
- Makes it easy to set goals for weekly mileage. Apps make it easier to track mileage trends, so I can see if I make too big of a jump from week to week or if I don’t plan a down week every few weeks.
- Connecting with friends and seeing progress week over week helps me stay motivated!
- Built-in training plans (like Strava)
- I like logging my route my using GPS tracking so I can compare to previous runs. I also like GPS tracking built into apps to let friends and family know where you are. GPS running can seem creepy. So just make sure to set your settings to private so randoms can’t see your go-to route.
- I especially love being able to see my running progress and running splits post-run. It’s a great way to see if I am making progress towards my running goals since in the day to day of training, it can just feel like a grind without seeing improvements until race day.
Most running apps have audio cues that give you time splits or distance markers so you can track your progress in real-time if you find that helpful. I don’t personally use them but I know many people love that aspect! And nearly all running apps will track mileage and calories burned so I tried to highlight the features beyond those, since I consider those baseline features.
Now, the options are endless when it comes to running apps. The hardest part is finding one that fits best with your running goals and style. So I’m breaking them down and comparing some popular options for you today! Let’s get running!
The Best Free Running Apps
I decided to choose apps that were FREE (or at least partially free) because part of the beauty of running is that it’s so easy and accessible to get into once you have good shoes! I also thought I would list apps that are available on both iPhone and Andriod so no one gets left out. If social sharing is your jam, then don’t worry – nearly all of these apps have an easy syncing capability with all the major social media platforms.
I had to list Strava first because it is my absolute FAVORITE running app for tracking my runs. (Hence, you’ll see why that one has lots of notifications on my phone and why I have more commentary on this one!) This app actually originated predominately for cyclists, but quickly became a popular running app too. With its built-in GPS tracking capability, Strava tracks your run in real time which is helpful if you don’t have a GPS fitness tracker like a Garmin watch.
I also really love the way it maps out training on a weekly basis, which makes it easier to monitor progression. (You can see screenshots in this post!) It will even display your heart rate in your run analysis if you wear a a heart rate monitor (my running watch has a heart rate monitor built in). If you do many types of workouts, it also gives the option to log all sorts of workouts, including running, walking, hiking, cycling, weight lifting, etc.
More features I love
Strava also has a popular segment feature that stacks you against other runners on the same run route. If you run a certain designated segment (usually one that’s popular among runners will be flagged as a “segment”) in your neighborhood, Strava will tell you how fast you run it compared to other runners on the same stretch! A little healthy competition to motivate you on your next run, right?
I also like that Strava has a social component within the app, totally separate from Instagram or Facebook. It’s better than those in my opinion! 😉 You can follow coworkers, friends, and family and give them “kudos” or leave a comment when they’ve completed a run or race. And they can do the same for you! I love being able to follow my running friends’ progress, especially after they move away or when I know they’re training for something big.
Strava is free but it has a Premium option where you get more features, including training plans. I used their training plans for YEARS and they helped me PR in the half marathon and PR. I even qualified for Boston the first time using a Strava training plan!
Map My Run
MayMyRun is another popular app (with over 50 million users) and is very easy to use. This Under Armour-owned app integrates well with most wearable fitness trackers including Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple watches. One feature that a lot of people like is that Map My Run seamlessly syncs with MyFitnessPal (also owned by Under Armour) so all of your exercise and diet information is in one place. This really helps when you are keeping track of and monitoring your overall health.
I used Map My Run way back in the day when all they had was a website and I had to manually draw in my running route to see how far I’d gone. Oh how far things have come in the last 15 years, ha!
I loooove the Peloton Digital App! I used this for three months before I decided to buy the actual Peloton bike (more on that in another post!). Their classes are FANTASTIC. Beyond using it for cycling (I just propped my phone up on a spin bike at the gym), they also have running, bootcamp, yoga, weightlifting, meditation and stretching classes.
You can attend live running classes that are streamed from Peloton’s NYC and London studios or you can do classes on-demand, whenever is best for for your schedule. For their running classes, they offer indoor running treadmill classes or on the road running classes. You’ll just want to make sure you have a good pair of headphones since they do cue throughout the workout! (For running, I love Apple Airpods – read my review here.) While I mentioned above I’m not a big audio cue person while running, I do like the Peloton running workouts the best of all the app options.
This app releases new classes daily and you can choose from thousands of live or on-demand classes so you’ll never get bored or feel like things are repetitive. It’s also great for all levels of runners and another awesome part of this app is that if you do happen to have an Apple Watch or other fitness tracker, you can connect for enhanced metrics, like heart rate tracking. If you like a variety of workouts and enjoy guided classes, I HIGHLY recommend this app. (The first month is free and then it’s $15 a month after that.)
I included Runcoach on this list, mainly for its virtual coach feature. This is a great app for setting a running goal and sticking with it. Once you set a goal and input your information into the app, an algorithm will give guidance on how you should start and maintain a solid training plan to reach your running goal. It’s like your own personal trainer – but in an app!
I love Charity Miles. This app takes ‘running for a cause’ to a whole new level. Now altruism and running can be combined every day and not just during annual charity races. For those that love participating and giving to good causes, you should definitely check this app out! Charity Miles tracks your running distance and donates 25 cents per mile to a charity of your choice.
Runner Up Running Apps
Endomondo, RunKeeper, and Runtastic are all great running apps that I couldn’t leave off the list. All three of these apps have GPS tracking, progress checks, route options, sharing capabilities, and can be used for hikes, cycling, walks, or runs.
Like Strava, Endomondo is great for connecting with friends. Runtastic has other more workout-specific apps that can be added to help you meet training goals. RunKeeper is another popular app giving personal challenges that are directly linked to your progress and help you meet your goals.
While all three of these running apps have similar features, the app functions are all different and therefore will attract varied users. That’s why it’s important to try several running apps to see what features and user interfaces work best for you!
BONUS Running App: Zombies, Run!
If you need some external motivation to run or maybe you would enjoy adding a little funky flair to your next training session – then look no further! Zombies, Run! is tons of fun! This app transports you into a virtual reality with missions and stories that will navigate you through a zombie apocalypse. With audio cues – mixed in with your own music – you are given tasks to complete during your run. Your motivation is….not getting eaten! Ha!
I hope this list helps you in choosing the best running app for your style and your goals. If you have any questions about any of these apps – or if you have other app recommendations that I haven’t listed, let me know! I love trying out new apps gadgets and reviewing my experience with them! Happy running, friends!
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