The best running apps for beginners

By Genny Owen
3 min read

Tackling her first marathon this year, she’s done all the legwork so you don’t have to.

Running can be as much of a mental test as it is physically. Whilst the endorphins post run always make it worthwhile in the end, finding that initial motivation can be tough. Sometimes just a little bit of encouragement or evidence that the hard work is paying off is what’s needed to lace up your trainers. Thanks to the nifty world of tech, all this is possible. I’m going to share with you my favourite running apps and trackers to help give you that little extra boost to continue getting out and about running.


Running tech doesn’t necessarily mean expensive and complex. A lot of options out there are actually free and super easy to set up. GPS Running Apps are a prime example. By just downloading the app onto your phone, you can get basic but key info such as distance, speed, elevation and calories burned on your run within seconds. MapMyRun and RunKeeper are personal favourites, also allowing you to track your progress (plus your friends) and set goals so that you can continue to push yourself that extra mile.


For those looking for some guidance, then the NHS Couch to 5k is a fail safe, tried and tested option. Whilst not a GPS Running App, this beginner orientated plan does exactly what it says on the tin: helping you run from zero to 5k over the 9 week course. It’s available to view online for free, with 3 x 30 minute manageable runs, clearly and concisely laid out each week, gently pushing you just that little bit further. The podcasts (which cost pennies) are a great investment for those looking for additional inspo and some words of wisdom too!


Finally, if like me, you’d rather not take your phone out running but still want to track your progress, then a GPS running watch is a great purchase. They are better than your standard fitness trackers like Fitbit (which generally just record your step count, sleep, heart rate etc) as they do all this but are also far more accurate in recording your distance and speed, given their GPS capacity. As an added bonus, a lot of reasonably priced GPS watches allow you to add music, so you can have your favourite running playlist booming away as your run.

In short, the world of running tech doesn’t have to be intimidating, costly or confusing. There are so many really simple and cost effective options out there that can help to inspire you to keep on moving and continue to improve.

Get gear

Garmin Forerunner 35 – The best budget running watch out there in my opinion. Lightweight, with GPS, good battery life, sleep, step and heart rate tracking plus the option to connect to your smartphone for real time notifications.

Garmin Forerunner 235 – For those looking for the next step up and something to help push you a little further, then this watch is definitely the one. On top of all the basics, it also has music storage, provides audio cues on your pace so that you can keep on top of your goals and suggests how long you should rest up before you commit to running round two.

Polar M200 – Why change something that works? Whilst this watch has been knocking about for a while, it’s still a firm favourite for good reason. For a great price it tracks all the key info (speed, distance, calories, sleep, heart rate). It’s also water resistant in case you want to take a dip to cool off post run.

Garmin Vivoit 3 – If you’re just looking for an everyday activity tracker then this will do the job. Steps, calories, distance, activity and sleep are all recorded in this small yet substantial watch.

Get inspired

If you need a little more motivation and you’re a fan of running with music then we’ve got you covered. Head to the Let’s Do This Spotify account for some big beats to get you pumped. Whether you’re feeling rap, rock, relaxing music or remixes, the LDT team has pulled together a selection of your dream playlists to suit your mood!

Let’s Do This