2014 was the year I started running and actually did the fabled “couch to 5k” running plan and all it took to drop a stone in weight and trim up was 20 minutes a day going up and beyond that. For kicks I’d have RunKeeper in the background so i could see my time and distances ever improving. But RunKeeper is not the only app out there.
Strava Run (Free, Paid version: $5.99/month)
we’re recommending Strava as one of the best running apps you can download from the App Store. Its appeal mainly comes from the fact that the app strikes a good balance that caters to both competitive and recreational runners.
For those who prefer to keep to themselves and avoid the competitive side of running, the free version of Strava Run provides a wide array of indicators that one would expect from a good running app. This includes pace, distance, mapped routes, and training logs that can be reviewed at any time.
For the competitive runner, Strava Run provides a plethora of additional options to challenge and motivate you to go faster and farther. The “segments” feature unique to Strava allows runners to climb leaderboards on popular running routes. With the leaderboard rankings, you can set your own personal record, or compare yourself against your friends and even local pros that frequent your usual training ground.
Strava Premium further expands the list of available features for a monthly fee of $5.99/month or $59.99/year. Premium features include filtered leaderboards according to age and weight, the ability to set weekly mileage or time-based goals, and access to the recently released “Suffer Score” which quantifies your exertion effort during your training runs.
In addition, a quick survey of the most popular running apps on the market actually places Strava on the cheaper end of the premium spectrum making it one of the better options if you are planning to spend a few dollars to gain access to more detailed running metrics to help boost your performance without having to break the bank.
Now with the release of iOS 8, Strava now has the option to integrate with Apple’s Health app so all your health and fitness data can be pooled into a one location. And because Strava data can be collected by other GPS-enabled devices like your Garmin or Timex running watch, you know that your data is uploaded to Strava even if you leave your phone at home.
Overall, Strava Run is a good option whether you are a serious competitive runner or someone who’s into running for the pure joy of being outdoors!
2. Runkeeper (Free, Paid version: $9.99/month)
Runkeeper is one of the first running apps that came into the market a few years back and since then, it has continued to have a strong following among runners especially on the iOS platform. The basic version packs a lot of goodies including running pace, distance, elevation, and estimated calorie burn per activity. Runkeeper can also be pre-programmed with running routes so you can have in-run navigation particularly for unfamiliar routes.
In addition, Runkeeper has a few other extra features that are unique to the app. Runkeeper can use the built-in accelerometers in your iPhone 5 to track cadence and number of steps. It can even be integrated with other fitness apps like MyFitness Pal for calorie tracking, Fitbit for regular daily activity monitoring, and Withings wifi scales to track your weight automatically so you can have a more holistic picture of your health and fitness activities.
For a fee, the app offers the Elite version which includes premium training plans for more serious and targeted workouts. This is complemented by the Goal Coach feature which provides suggestions to help you create training plans specifically tailored to your skill and goals. The Elite version costs $9.99/month or $39.99 for a full year.
Runkeeper is a great running app because of its versatility and simplicity. You cannot go wrong by choosing to download it from the App store today.
3. Endomondo Running Cycling Walk (Free, Paid version for $4.99)
Running can be a very lonely activity. For long training runs, you can be left on your own running for hours on end, and after a while, the loneliness can get to you. Endomondo seeks to change that, and it does a pretty good job at it.
As a running app, it has all the trimmings of a reliable run companion. It automatically tracks your run distance, time, pace, and burned calories with each activity. You also get an audio feedback per mile or kilometer to keep you posted on your progress.
The built-in training diary is also pretty handy for reviewing your previous performance. You can even set workout goals and use the app’s built-in audio coach to guide you with tips on how to beat those goals.
But what sets Endomondo apart from other running apps is its penchant for socializing.
For starters, the app sends out monthly challenges that pit you against other runners all over the world for a chance to win prizes. The app also doesn’t ever let you be alone despite those long and lonely runs.
Your friends can send you real-time audio pep talks mid-run for a much needed boost. You can also return the favor by commenting on your friends’ progress while they are out on the road. And if you need any more motivation to push through, why not try and beat a friend’s personal best and post the results on Facebook?
Endomondo shows that running need not be lonely so if you think you can benefit from being constantly connected with others who share your passion for running, this might just be the app for you.
4. Nike+ Running (Free)
Pound-for-pound, Nike+ running isn’t as packed with features as some of the other apps we have on this list. What it lacks in features, however, it makes up for with simplicity and a “no nonsense” attitude.
The running app tracks the usual running metrics that are important for tracking training progress and measuring your performance. The usual pace and run distance metrics are available, and you even have the option to track the mileage of each of your running shoes. The app also has training and coaching features that can help you run your first 5k or beat your marathon PR.
On top of that, the app also has features that allow you to have some friendly competition with your in-app friends. You can set a target distance and invite your friends to race it in the fastest time. You can do this with a group and rank the results leaderboard-style, or challenge a friend toe-to-toe for bragging rights.
Combined with the ability to select a power song for those “dig deep and push through moments”, and its integration into the Health app, Nike+ is a great option especially because it won’t cost you anything to get it.
5. MapMyRun (Free, Paid version: $5.99/month)
MapMyRun’s calling card is that it’s packed full of features for runners of all shapes and sizes. You can have access to pace, GPS-based route mapping, run distance, calorie counting, route elevation profile, and a selection of average-minimum-maximum stats during your run. Voice prompts also give you a heads up so you don’t have to keep looking at your phone while you’re on the road.
With the paid “MVP” version, MapMyRun gives you access to additional features like personal training plans, route recommendations based on your current location, customized audio coaching, and live tracking so family and friends can see your real-time location to keep them at ease during those very long runs.
All in all, there’s plenty to like about MapMyRun and what it offers for runners of all shapes and sizes.
6. Adidas MiCoach Train and Run (Free)
Compared to Nike+, the Adidas miCoach running app was a late introduction into the market. However, it has more than bridged the gap between its primary rival.
The one thing that sets the miCoach apart is that it allows you to categorize your training plan into two: cardio or strength and flexibility. Based on your selection, it can offer customized training plans to help you achieve your goals.
And the app doesn’t solely focus on run workouts; with over 400 strength and flexibility exercises in its training library, you can also have access to complementary workouts to make you stronger.
Of course, the usual running metrics are still available.
The app tracks your run distance, time, pace, and calories burned. It’s simple but it focuses on the most important aspects so when everything is said and done, you can bet that the miCoach does just as much of a good job as the other running apps in helping you achieve your goals.
7. Zombies, Run! (Paid version: $3.99)
It’s actually surprising that Zombies, Run has not had a bigger following after 2 years in the market. This app is just pure fun. You literally run to save the world, or at least the virtual world where you belong.
Running longer gives your virtual community more rations. The app also takes you through a complex world of epic stories and adventures to continually give spice and spunk to your runs.
If you’re tired of the usual app selections and you want something else, this is the app to download. Trust us when we say it’s the best $3.99 you will spend this year.
8. iSmoothRun (Paid version: $5.99)
Up until this point, our list has closely mirrored the list of best running apps for Android. With iSmoothRun, this is where we take the fork in the road and try out something new. That’s because iSmoothRun is only exclusively available on iOS so Android users will have to wait a little more while before they’ll have a chance to try out this app.
From a performance perspective, the app can hold its own against the apps we’ve already named. It can track the usual running metrics such as distance, pace, elevation, distance, and even heart rate if you pair your phone with BT smart sensors.
Where iSmoothRun gets interesting is its ability to toggle between GPS and pedometer tracking on-the-fly. If GPS is available, it will use that to track your running metrics. If you lose the GPS signal, the app automatically switches you to pedometer to keep your run data intact.
In addition, it leverages the pedometer function to give you important data about your run cadence which can then be used to improve your running form and turnover rate. That’s something unique to iSmoothRun and it’s worth checking out if you want to look at your cadence to help improve your performance.
9. Runmeter (Free, Paid version: $4.99)
Runmeter is another running app that has not made the cross-platform jump to Google Play. Instead, the app has remained exclusive on the App store outside of the reach of Android users. This is probably why the app isn’t as famous as the many others on this list.
From a features perspective, however, the app is fairly comparable with the best on the market. It tracks the normal array of running statistics including pace, distance, and route maps. The app is also unique in that it can display all of these statistics in different ways from pie charts to bar charts.
Runmeter also includes training plans for different race distances as well as the ability to design your own plans. You can then sync your iPhone calendar to display your workout schedule for the day, a really neat feature that other app makers should look to emulate.
Overall, Runmeter has the capability to become a good running app for your daily training needs. Check it out, especially if you are into complex graphical displays of run data, because you’ll certainly fall in love with this one.
10. Charity Miles (Free)
Rounding up our list of the best iOS running apps is Charity Miles. Simply put, there’s just no way we can bring ourselves to exclude this app on our list because such a noble cause attached to running just tugs at our heartstrings every time.
As the name implies, Charity Miles brings our love for charity and mileage together. You can choose from a long list of charities to donate to and as you run, corporate sponsors like Timex and Humana will donate 25 cents per mile to your chosen charity. Not only will that motivate you to put in the training, it also translates into actual help for organizations that can certainly benefit from a little altruism.
Think about Charity Miles if you need extra motivation to run. With Charity Miles, you know every step goes a long way into helping others.