The 6 Best Running Apps According to Our Running Coaches!
If you own a smartphone, then you own a powerful science-backed way to get you started on your running goals: running apps. But a quick app store search may leave you overwhelmed and confused about which running app is best for you.
We are here to help!
We are going to share the 6 best running apps for you to get started towards your running goals—whether it’s to get off the couch or run a personal best.
Let’s first answer some basic questions:
How to choose the right running app for you?
When evaluating running apps, you should consider what your goal is.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- do you want to train for a 5k?
- do you need help staying motivated?
- do you have trouble beating boredom on your runs?
- do you want to run a longer distance like a 10k or half marathon?
- do you want to get faster?
- do you want people to see what your running?
These questions will help you figure out what running app is best for you. Some offer guided runs, others offer detailed data, and some connect you with a community of new and old friends so you can cheer each other on—or even compete.
What’s the best app for running?
The most popular app among runners is Strava. Strava acts as both a fitness tracker and social medium specific to athletes. In fact, it is so popular that many ask: “if it’s not on Strava, did it even happen?”
Yet, many runners have decided to get off Strava because it can foster unhealthy comparison with other runners, leading to injury and burnout.
If you have a habit of comparing yourself to others and running farther or faster than your body is ready, a private app may better suit you, such as Nike Run Club.
Now, we will break down the best running apps to fit specific fitness goals, such as the best running app for beginners and the best running app for competitors.
By analyzing app reviews and talking with fellow runners, we feel certain one of these running apps will fit your needs!
Let’s get started!
The 6 Best Running Apps
1. Best Running App for Beginners: C25K 5k Trainer
With millions of downloads and success stories, the free version of the C25K 5k Trainer app gives you the OFFICIAL couch to 5k program to help you reach your goal. It’s been lauded by outlets such as the New York Times, Glamour, WebMD, and NBC News.
This app features an audio coach and alerts that can play with your own playlist. It also maps your distance and integrates with a health app and social media. C25K includes a community to connect with, ask questions, and stay motivated.
The Zen Unlimited Pass’s paid version includes curated music and more data, plus access to other apps created by ALL Zen Labs Fitness. It claims to improve motivation by 35 percent. You can try a week for free.
2. Best Running App for Community & Competition: Strava
Strava is probably the most popular running app available. This free run tracker also tracks other fitness activities such as swimming or cycling.
The two best things about Strava are the community and the metrics. Strava allows you to connect with your friends, giving each other kudos for your runs.
Users can provide commentary and pictures for each workout, just as you may on Instagram or Facebook. There’s also a private space for a personal training log only you see.
Strava also supplies great data for each run, including elevation, pace and distance records, heart rate, and power stats. It even will compare your runs, predict race performances, and rank you in segment leaderboards. Also, Strava now offers 3D maps and running routes.
Note: While it is a great replacement for an expensive GPS watch, it isn’t as accurate as one.
There is a paid version that gives you access to more data, along with access to Strava’s safety feature, Beacon, which allows runners to alert up to three contacts of their location (great for race spectators!).
3. Best Running App for People Who Hate Running: Zombies Run
If you’re one of those people who say you’ll only run if someone is chasing you, then Zombies Run is the app for you.
This running app encourages you to “get fit. Escape zombies. And become a hero!” It includes 500+ unique storylines mixed with pulse-pounding songs from your playlist that immerse you into an audio zombie drama in which you play a starring role. You must run to survive!
More than 10 million people have become runners using this app! You can view your own stats maps and share them on social. The cost of the app is $5.99 a month.
4. Best Running App for Guided Runs: Nike Run Club
Combining expert coaches with a robust running community, the Nike Run Club running app has helped millions reach their goals.
The app offers training plans to help you reach your goals, guided runs, a pace tracker, running log, GPS tracking, and training tips given by running coaches and experts. Pick your runs by distance and effort.
Whether your goal is to get started running or run a half marathon, this app can help you get there with encouragement and guidance from a friendly voice every time. (Note: it does not train you for a marathon).
Sync with your Spotify playlist, create challenges, and connect with others in the Nike Run Club community to keep your motivation going!
Best of all, it’s FREE!
5. Best Personalized Coaching: Runcoach
The Runcoach running app is awesome because it combines savvy technology with knowledgeable coaches to give you customized training to help you meet your running goals, including chasing those PRs.
It will factor in your current fitness level, how many days you can run, the distance you can run, schedule, cross-training, and develop your own unique training plan.
This plan aims to safely building your mileage and speed so you can become fitter. It also gives you access to coaches to ask questions about anything from training to injury. It syncs with other fitness apps like Strava to track your real-time progress.
The personalized coaching is offered through the Gold Membership, which costs $119.95. The basic version is free but doesn’t offer personalized coaching.
6. Best Running App for Treadmill Runs: Zwift
The Zwift app is popular among cyclists and runners alike for entertaining you and keeping you motivated as you workout indoors. The app provides fun video games that up the intensity of your training to increase that heart rate and keep you from mailing it in.
Pair your fitness tracker or GPS watch/Apple watch/Fitbit and foot pod, and it supplies workouts and allows you to train with old friends, make new friends, and even compete. Expert-run coaches create the workouts, or you can create your own.
The virtual experience will take your digital avatar through scenes such as central London, futuristic New York City, or the Mayan ruins. You may even forget your running!
And, the app is free!
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