Let’s Do This has chosen our favourite running apps that keep us motivated, connected, and can add something a little extra to your training schedule, whether you are a beginner, an experienced runner, or simply a data geek (aka run-nerd).
With the rise of virtual events filling in former race schedules that have been roadblocked by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, having the right technology to be able to participate and connect with these events and the community as effectively as possible is essential.
To do this, you will need a high quality running app that will track your GPS signal to accurately record your distance and time. This ensures that the PB half marathon or 10k that you just ran around your neighborhood is not only tracked, but can also be celebrated by the wider community.
If you have, try to hook up your wearable tech to your running app, this feeds more accurate information to your running app, maximizing the training benefits.
This app has both a free and premium version and is a great tool to add a little more data to your training. The free version is a typical GPS tracking tool that shows users a map of their route, overall time, and pace. The advanced features, unlocked through their premium subscription, add a whole host of easy-to-use features that make even novice runners feel like scientists. One of the downsides of the free version is that it relies on ads to make money, so if you can spare a couple of quid each month then we’d recommend it.
Some of the advanced features include heart rate zones, interval training, cadence analysis, power analysis and nutrition tracking.
- Available on: iOS, Android Wear, and Samsung Gear
- Pros: Loads of useful data, easy-to-use
- Cons: Ads in free version
- Best Suited For: All-round runners who are looking to add more data to their training plans and understand their running styles better.
- Developer: UnderArmour
Strava is great for those multi-disciplinarians out there. They’ve created a platform that collects vast amounts of data for runners, swimmers, and cyclists alike. One key feature that makes it so popular is the users ability to tag certain portions of a run and compare how they did against their friends and family. This is great if you are competing and want to look at the difficulty of a course section, and customize your training schedule accordingly.
Strava’s focus on triathlon disciplines has led them to integrate a number of advanced safety features into Strava Summit (Premium version) such as ‘Beacon’. This feature allows users to share their live location with friends and family when they go out for a run giving everyone a little peace of mind.
- Available on: iOS and Android
- Pros: Lots of data, single source for running/swimming/cycling data, advanced features
- Cons: Extra steps to make use of data, Strava Summit price tag (£6.99 per month)
- Best Suited For: Triathletes trying to centralize data from their running, swimming, and cycling.
- Developer: Strava
3. Nike Run Club:
A few years back Nike revamped their previously very popular running app and the changes were not well received. They have continued to iterate and now have an awesome all-rounder app that offers on-the-run voice coaching and podcasts for multiple distances. Nike’s vast athletic network allows them to integrate the voices of sporting greats to encourage runners as they train for their next challenge. It also offers a slew of social media integrations, allowing you to connect easily with your friends and family and stack yourself up against them on the leaderboards.
- Available on: iOS, Android & Samsung
- Pros: Pro Athlete Coaching, Social Media Integrations.
- Cons: Lack of nutrition tracking and advanced features
- Best Suited For: Runners that like to compete against friends and family to stay motivated.
- Developer: Nike
4. Adidas Running:
Another classic running app that incorporates all the basic functionality that a running app should. This app is a great starting point, but it lacks some of the fancy features that MapMyRun, Nike, and Strava have incorporated. However, Adidas have done a good job of building a dashboard that users can customise – removing all the fluff and focusing on what’s most important to you.
- Available on: Android, and iOS
- Pros: Easy to use, customizable dashboard
- Cons: Basic functionality
- Best Suited For: Entry-level runners who are looking for a straightforward and simple app to track their progress.
- Developer: Adidas Running
5. One You Couch to 5K:
A basic but brilliant app from the NHS that gets you off the couch and into your running shoes. The app is designed for users who have never run a 5K before and are looking to get in shape but don’t know where to start. The app takes users from walking a 5K route to jogging intervals all the way up to running that first full 5K. The app tracks information on distance, speed and route but little else. Users love this app for it’s audio coaching that directs runners on when to walk, jog or rest – taking the thought out of training and making it accessible to all.
- Available on: Android, iOS
- Pros: User-friendly, motivational
- Cons: Basic features
- Best Suited For: Complete beginners who don’t know where to start and have little-to-no running experience.
- Developer: NHS
Overall, MapMyRun scored highest because it integrates a variety of data forms around an individual’s running style easily, it is used by a lot of people making for strong social scores, and is priced fairly. Strava came in a close second because it too incorporates a good amount of data but is slightly more complicated to set up and is priced a little higher than most other apps on the market. Nike+ came in at third with strong social elements and awesome coaching features but lacks some of the more advanced data that Strava and MapMyRun include.
Although there are better running apps on the market, Couch to 5K serves an important role by encouraging less experienced runners to take up the sport. It makes running accessible to everyone, and in our eyes that is one of the most important things an app can do.
Alternatives: Making running fun again
If you are looking to jazz up your running routine then perhaps try one of these awesome alternatives:
- Zombies, Run! (Free): This app has gamified run training. As the name suggests you have to outrun the zombie hoard that’s chasing after you. The faster you run and the more miles you put on the road and the safer you will be.
- Relive: This is a great app for destination running (or cycling) where you can upload GPX files and photos of your run to the app and automatically create a video of the route intertwining your favourite memories from along the way. This app captures speed and distance but not much else, so if you are training seriously make sure to use a more advanced app in conjunction.
- Charity Miles (Free): If burning calories and getting fit isn’t a good enough reason to don your trainers and hit the roads, then Charity Miles is. This app converts your hard worked miles into donations to a charity of your choosing. There are 40 charitable options to select from.
- Run An Empire: This is likely the brainchild of a keen Pokémon Go user. The title gives this one away a little, but the name of the game is to “take over” empires by running or walking through them. The more you run the more points you and your empire are awarded.
So whether you are looking for a classic data-driven approach to training (i.e. MapMyRun, Strava, etc.) or you are trying to breathe life back into your training routine (Zombies, Run!) hopefully you will find something here that works for you.